Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Under Pressure: How to Endure Work Stress

It is not uncommon for people to complain about how stressed out they are. In a 2007 poll taken by the American Psychological Association (APA), nearly 1/3 of all Americans claim to suffer from stress.

Within the past few years, due to a failing economy, people across the country have had to deal with losing their jobs because of company layoffs. It's no wonder why some feel they have tremendous pressure on their shoulders. For some people a large amount of their stress comes from their jobs. There are employees that have to endure a heavy workload due to lazy co-workers, or having a boss that is unreasonably demanding, dealing with workplace violence, sexual harassment, and gender/racial bullying. Such factors can affect an employee's self esteem and in turn lead to low company morale.

But another source of stress can be feeling unappreciated at work. Some employees feel no matter what extra effort they make it goes unnoticed. They can feel as if it doesn't matter whether they give 110% because they won't get a pay increase, a promotion, or at least some kind of recognition. They say to themselves, "I've worked myself to the bone for this company for years-- stressing myself out for no reason because it hasn't gotten me anywhere." This attitude can eventually lead to a lack of motivation to be at their job. This in turn can lead to having a "clock in, clock out" mentality; meaning the employee coasts thru their tasks by doing the bare minimal of what is required of them to complete their job and nothing more. How can you prevent lack of motivation at work? 

Usually addressing the matter to the boss or manager of your department can help. Managers that are aware of the lack of motivation in their employees will do their best to remedy the problem. They do so by communicating with the employee or team to find ways in boosting their moral, rather than assuming the employee has lost motivation to be at work because of having problems at home. It is commendable to have a manager that has a hands on approach to keeping the lines of communications open between higher ups and subordinates. Yet not all employees have an approachable type of manager. There are some managers that have the old school method of installing fear in their employees and not really caring what input they have to share. If someone is afraid of you, more than likely they will not tell you if they have a problem. This can affect the lines of communication, where employees no longer trust managers and vice versa. This can make an employee feel trapped in an unhappy environment.

There might be some who will read this article, and depending on their culture or type of job, will feel this topic of dealing with stress and feeling unappreciated at work does sound absurd. "If you have a problem at work, you suck it up and deal with it. There is no such thing as being stress free and happy to be at work," such a person would reason. Yes it may be true that problems at work can not completely be avoided, but the burden of not addressing a problem can cause a person to repress their anger and they may end up taking it out on their family, or turning to vices to cope with the problem. This can eventually lead a person to one day snap. In a survey conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that over the past 5 years, from 2004 to 2008, an average of 564 work-related homicides occurred each year in the United States. Wouldn't you have to agree that unhappiness and stress at work did play a major part in these violent incidents? That is why it is important to correct the problem immediately before it is too late.

In situations where an employee has done all they can to address the problem(s) with higher ups and try to come to a solution but to no avail, than perhaps it is best to remove yourself from that unhealthy work environment. This is not to say quit your job tomorrow and hope for the best, but takes the steps necessary to look for something else. However, if you notice that no matter what company you work for the same problem keeps coming up then maybe it's not the company but you yourself that needs to have a change of attitude. Sometimes we may not realize we have a problem until someone brings up the issue to us.

In the meantime there are positive ways you can learn to cope with stress at work. Some have turned to meditation to reduce anxiety and panic attacks. Others exercise or have a support group consisting of friends and family members where they can blow off steam by talking out the problems they are having at work. We have a choice of how to respond to stress at work by either fixing the problem or continue to ignore it.

No matter what some may say job satisfactory is possible. Psychologist Abraham Maslow theorized that a person can achieve high success in life only if their motivational needs have been met. "Maslow's model places motivational needs in a hierarchy and suggests that before more sophisticated, higher-order needs can be met, certain primary needs must be satisfied" (Maslow,1987). One of these basic needs can be what our body depends on a daily basis; such as food, water, sleep, and so forth. This is the first step, then following that is our Safety needs (being in a safe and secure environment), then feeling Love and Belongingness (the need to give and receive affection). After fulfilling these steps, a person will strive for self-esteem and after doing so he will be able to accomplish the highest-level needed and that is Self- actualization. This is when a person comes to realize their high potentials for success. 

Written by: Bridget Campos

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