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Stress in the workplace

In 2015/16 over 480,000 people in the UK reported that work-related stress was making them ill (Health and Safety Executive; HSE). This accounts for almost 40% of all work-related illness.

Obviously there are many things that can cause stress in the workplace; sometimes if there is a high amount of stress in our personal lives, it can spill over into work if there isn’t enough support in place. However, sometimes work itself can be the cause of stress. Reasons for this may include:

High demands placed on you
This could be a heavy workload difficult to do within the allocated hours, being asked to do something that you do not feel adequately skilled or trained to do or being instructed to undertake tasks that were not initially expected within your role.

Having little or no support from those senior to you
For example, not being able to meet regularly with your line manager to discuss any difficulties or not having a formal appraisal process may mean that you do not have the opportunity to raise and problem solve concerns.

Where there are incidents of bullying and harassment
Work can become a scary and abusive place to be.

When change is implemented within an organisation and isn’t managed effectively
This is particularly important when this relates to significant changes in structure and role. This can cause uncertainty and a sense of insecurity.

If you feel unclear about your role or task within the team or organisation
It is key to ensure that you know what is expected of you and how to do this in order to feel like a valued member of a service.

Although there are many things that you can do in order to manage your own personal symptoms of stress, it may be that you need something from your workplace. For example, training and guidance on how to complete newly allocated tasks, an appraisal to understand where your role fits within the organisation or formal procedures to manage harassment and bullying.

Larger organisations may have access to Occupational Health and Human Resources departments. You may also be able to access support from a union representative. The important thing is to find others who can support you as well as finding things that help you manage in the short term.