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Occupational Stress

Viimati uuendatud: 11.10.2019

Occupational Stress

Occupational stress is treated as a state of tension which occurs when a person senses a disagreement between the working environment challenges and their possibilities of coping.

A moderate amount of occupational stress could be motivating and impelling, but the situation becomes serious if the stress is too high or long-term and there are little coping resources. In a new or tense situation, and in highly stressful circumstances, the human body releases the adaption or stress reaction. This is a neurochemical process which, for example, increases the heartbeat rate, quickens the breathing and sharpens the way the person senses their surroundings. These are important reactions in a situation with only two choices of coping – fighting or flighting. Adaption, which has proven to be useful before, does not justify itself in the case of long-term stress, so common in contemporary working environment – the body tires, mental and physical health disorders appear.

Consequences and Prevention of the Occupational Stress

Occupational Stress Consequences

The following health disorders in humans are associated with occupational stress:

  • cardiovascular diseases;
  • anxiety disorders, depression, post-traumatic stress syndrome;
  • gastric ulcers;
  • metabolism disorders;
  • skeletal and muscular complaints.

Several risk behaviour is often characteristic of a person in stress:

  • smoking;
  • excess use of alcohol;
  • using drugs;
  • little movement and sedentary lifestyle;
  • unhealthy diet.

A clear determination of the occupational stress is complicated because stress and related damage depends on several circumstances. A situation that creates an uncomfortable tension on one person may be stimulating for another; a task which is manageable on one day could seem overwhelming due to some personal problems, or a conflict between employees which influences the feelings and work performance. Therefore, frank communication between the employer and employee is crucial. If the employee senses a strong pressure that triggers fatigue and other negative phenomena, the employer must be informed so that the employer could adapt work accordingly. If the employee does not wish to talk to the employer directly, they can turn to the working environment representative.

The following problems related to the high stress level occur in the organization:

  • low creativity, work ability and commitment of employees;
  • high level of incapability to work;
  • great staff turnover;
  • increased risk of occupational accidents;
  • quality problems that generate costs emanating from the dissatisfaction of customers.

Occupational stress more broadly also influences the society:

  • an employee in stress could take it out on their family and co-citizens, increasing the aggressiveness in society;
  • the society’s productiveness suffers;
  • the national health insurance system must bear the majority of costs related to the occupational stress;
  • if the employee is not capable to return to work due to stress, the pension system bears costs.

Prevention of the Occupational Stress

Working conditions preventing the occupational stress and burnout offer:

  • feasible workload, freedom of choice and a sense of being in control;
  • recognition and remuneration;
  • a sense of community;
  • justice, respect and legitimacy;
  • meaningful and appreciated work.

Stress sensed in life is not, in general, limited only to the workplace and drawing the line between occupational and personal life tensions is often complicated or even impossible. Illness of a family member, children’s going to school or a breakup probably influence the employee’s capability to work. Even though such circumstances are out of the employer’s responsibility for the employee’s health, a good employer could consider supporting the employee in such circumstances, thereby preventing the likely transition of problems into the working life.

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