Stress at Work

Image by the Detroit Publishing Co. Photochrom print of an elderly Irish woman at a spinning wheel. Notice how much work has changed from the age of the crafts person, who had control of both their time and their work.

Conditions at Work That Lead To Stress 

There are a number of causes that lead to stress in a typical workplace  (CDC, 1999).

Environmental Conditions

Image Creator: Roger Price. This is a building where trains were once repaired.

Unpleasant or dangerous physical conditions such as crowding, noise, air pollution, or ergonomic problems. Example: David is exposed to constant noise at work. 

Design of Tasks


Heavy workload, infrequent rest breaks, long work hours and shift work; hectic and routine tasks that have little inherent meaning, do not utilize workers’ skills, and provide little sense of control.
Example: David works to the point of exhaustion. Theresa is tied to the computer, allowing little room for flexibility, self-initiative, or rest.

Preventing Burnout Can Boost The Bottomline. The last thing you want to do is burn out. Unfortunately, most employers lack any kind of sense of responsibility for the endless hours that cause burn-out. Still, some employers are making a difference (Noguchi, 2014)

Career Concerns

Image by: Jeroen Pulles. National Career Lamp
Image by: Jeroen Pulles. National Career Lamp

Job insecurity and lack of opportunity for growth, advancement, or promotion; rapid changes for which workers are unprepared. Example: Since the reorganization at David’s plant, everyone is worried about their future with the company and what will happen next. 

Work Roles

Woman worker in the Douglas Aircraft Company plant (Oct 1942). This girl in a glass house is putting finishing touches on the bombardier nose section of a B-17F Flying Fortress, Long Beach, Calif

Conflicting or uncertain job expectations, too much responsibility, too many “hats to wear.” Example: Theresa is often caught in a difficult situation trying to satisfy both the customer’s needs and the company’s expectations. 

Dominant Leadership Style

Portraits of Napoleon I


Lack of participation by workers in decision- making, poor communication in the organization, lack of family-friendly policies.
Example: Theresa needs to get the boss’s approval for everything, and the company is insensitive to her family needs. 

Your Boss Is Bad For Your Health? According the Anna Nyberg, “If you are working under a boss who stresses you in a destructive manner, and your possibilities or chances to change the situation are limited, you should try to change jobs as soon as possible.” The reason has to do with the fact that you increase your risk of a heart attack, the high blood pressure and increase risky behaviors such as smoking and alcohol use (Shannonhouse, 2014).

Interpersonal Relationships

Quote_Latin Proverb_Don't_Dont_Let

Poor social environment and lack of support or help from coworkers and supervisors. Example: Theresa’s physical isolation reduces her opportunities to receive help from them.


441px-ElderlyspinneraSurvey: Work Place Stressors from a poll that was done in USA Today in 1987.

64% — Type of Work Done

50% — Lack of Communication

46% — Understaffing

44% —Employer Demands

38% — Preoccupation with work

32% — Incompetent Supervisors

32% — Co-workers

31% — Too many hours

29% —Incompetent Subordinates

An interesting statement but clearly Beecher is not correct.



Centers For Disease Control (1999). National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Stress . . . At Work, Publication 99-101.

Noguchi, Yuki (2014). Preventing Burnout Can Boost The Bottomline. National Public Radio, September.

Shannonhouse, Rebecca (2014). Is Your Boss Making You Sick? Washington Post, October. 

Leadership Skill Development