Work Stress

Work Stress

Pressure and stress in the workplace.

Is work stress affecting yout? Economic effect has taken its toll with stress affecting the Irish workforce. Long hours and multiple roles can put pressure on the best of us, but constantly updating technology and the lack of job security as well, a lot of people are reaching their break point.

Today, the workplace environment demands mean that having to cope with newer ways of communication, which didnt exist a few years ago. The modern environment is now supplied with data by email and a lot of staff also have to be available 24/7 on a mobile phone. While the rewards can seem to be greater, the stress is too. Not being able to relax or have a break, can result in burning out.

Travelling at rush hour, work, finances, the kid’s future – all leading causes of stress


Everyone might admit to feeling a bit stressed at work sometimes, but only few people perhaps are aware of maybe just how stressed that they are. Impact of stress might often be hidden in other symptoms, for example, physical symptoms. Perhaps you have trouble sleeping, feel a bit run down, bad eating habits or have just lost a lot of your enjoyment the last while, chances are that you might be suffering from stress. Certain level of stress is a good thing and is needed for us all to perform good. Actors chat of being physically-ill before a big performance. Heading into a job interview or having to speak in front of a large group is not easy and also can cause stress. However, it is the manageable stress that will help the performance in these cases.

Occupational stress increases worldwide every year. Over 35% of Americans do experience enough stress on a daily basis to impact their work performance at work. According to the US CDC, over half of all deaths up to the age of 66 result from stressful lifestyles. In fact, a 1/3 of adult Americans state that living less stressful lives is one of their New Year commitments.

Ireland is also suffering from stress than ever. In 2013, the ‘Sunday Independant’ conducted a comprehensive survey of occupational stress in Ireland. The newspaper compared their findings to those of a similar study 10 years earlier. It highlighted that stress levels in certain jobs had increased significantly over the last decade or so. The armed forces and social workers show greatest increases in the stress levels, followed by teachers, ambulance workers and HSE nurses.

Stressful occupations

The researchers also found which jobs are the most stressful. Measuring on a scale of one to ten, each of these jobs rated eight or higher. People working in these jobs face significant stress situations regularly in their working day. Top of the list in Ireland are prison guards, followed by gardei, social workers, teachers, ambulance drivers, doctors and nurses.

In Ireland, the majority of the work force in every industrial sector claim to suffer from stress. According to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions 85% of the voluntary sector employees consider their job to be very stressful. Teachers (89%) and employees in the health service (83%) report high stress levels. Construction workers suffer the lowest levels of stress at 64%. Basically this means, regardless what job you do, the likelihood is that it will stress you. Of course, people handle stress on an individual basis differently and so one person may perform badly under stress while another needs it to drive them on to work better.

Physical pain

By the time most have been referred to a clinic, the patients have recognised their stress problem but have been unable to deal with it.

Most have tried solutions that have not worked, like exercise and herbal remedies. For people under real stress, there is the part of having to keep up the appearance of being ok and an acceptance that in work one has to be under stress to get a job right.

Stress is difficult to single out and can be difficult to treat since it tends to be caused by a wide range of external pressures built up in time. Introduction of constantly shifting technology is part to blame for the increase in job stress levels, but it is not the only reason.

“Tech may not be the only culprit”, says Carole Spiers of International Stress Management Association. “However there are many other reasons that can lead to stress in the workplace. These can be overload work schedules caused by downsizing, increased hours, bullying, pressure to deliver and lack of a job security”.

Causes of stress

These are the most commonly reported factors of occupational stress, according to Irish congress of Trade Unions:

  • Lack of time to complete the job properly
  • No definitive job description or structure
  • Little recognition or no reward for doing well
  • Too much responsibility with not enough authority
  • Unco-operative teams
  • Lack of job security
  • Prejudice or racism in the workplace
  • Unpleasant or dangerous working conditions
  • No opportunity to employ personal talent and your ability effectively

If its left ignored, workplace stress may have a knock-on effect with personal relationships, and with the family. Workplace stress can cause stress spilling over into all aspects of your life. International Stress Management Association surveyed work force in Ireland which situations or roles they found stressful. Their answers, below, highlight how a proportion of employees can even become stressed thinking about shopping and taking holidays.

Rush Hour Travel – 46%
Work – 35%
Managing the balance between work and home – 32%
Children’s future – 32%
Financial planning – 34%
Paying household bills – 28%
Shopping – 29%
New technology – 24%
Domestic relationships – 28%
Housework – 19%
Holiday trips – 18%