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Deloitte Global 2024 Gen Z and Millennial Survey          

Dealing with Workplace Stressors

The Pursuit of Happiness at Work

According to a recent survey conducted by Happier Me, self awareness platform for a happier and more successful life, the main reason for work stress among employees is too much work. The survey asked 1,000 workers from various industries and sectors to rank four possible causes of work stress: too much work, not enough recognition, conflict in relationships and our attitude to work. The results showed that:

  • 37% of the respondents chose too much work as the main reason,
  • 23% selected not enough recognition,
  • 21% cited conflict in relationships, and
  • 18% attributed work stress to our attitude to work.

According to the survey, these factors can create a sense of frustration, dissatisfaction and anxiety that can impact our physical and mental health. However, work stress is not inevitable, but the causes must be known.

Causes of Stress

Too much work: 37% of people said that they felt stressed because they have too much work to do and not enough time to do it. This can lead to burnout, fatigue and reduced productivity. To cope with this, it is important to prioritize your tasks, set realistic deadlines, delegate when possible and take regular breaks. You can also use tools to organize your work and track your progress. It is important for employers to be mindful of how much they expect of their employees, and not overwhelm them.

Not enough recognition: 23% of people said that they felt stressed because they do not receive enough recognition or appreciation for their work. This can lead to low self-esteem, resentment and lack of motivation. There are two ways to deal with this. Firstly, to realize that expecting recognition is normal, but gives others the key to our happiness. Can we find a way to value ourselves, and let go of this need for external validation which causes so much of our stress? The second way is for employers to step up and recognize staff for their achievements.

Conflict in relationships: 21% of people said that they felt stressed because they have conflict or tension with their co-workers, managers or clients. This can lead to anger, distrust and impact collaboration. To deal with this, it is important to resolve conflicts constructively, listen actively, empathize with others and respect different opinions. Accepting other perspectives as being equally valid is so important. The more we understand ourselves, the easier it is to understand others.

Our attitude to work: 18% of people said that they felt stressed because of a negative attitude towards their work. This can lead to dissatisfaction, boredom and cynicism. We need to shift our mindset to being more positive. Our mind usually takes what we already have for granted and focuses on what we don’t have. With a positive attitude we can see the best in people and situations, and this can make us happier and more productive. We need to bring our happiness to work rather than expecting work to make us happy.

As much as we would like to avoid work stress altogether, that’s not always possible. That’s why it’s important to know how to handle it and respond in a useful way instead of letting it spiral out of control. By understanding the causes and effects of work stress and applying some strategies to cope with it, you can improve your well-being, performance and happiness at work.

Common Work Stress Triggers Reduce stress

Forbes Health online identifies common workplace stress triggers, some of which is out of our control: 

  • Working long hours and mandatory overtime
  • Workplace bullying
  • Unclear or overly-demanding expectations
  • Lack of support, recognition and compensation
  • Fear of being laid off
  • Inability to take breaks during the work-day
  • Lack of time for non-work activities (such as sleep, exercise and social events)
  • Microaggressions and implicit bias in the workplace

Untreated stress

Untreated stress can also cause further physical, mental and behavioral symptoms. Research has linked work stress to:

  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Bodily injuries
  • Burnout
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Aggression and violence
  • Workplace accidents
  • Adjustment disorders (characterized by impaired coping skills and functioning)

How to Treat Workplace Stress

Forbes online identifies the following techniques to deal with stress at work.

Identify your stressors. Write down what stresses you out during the workday and how you respond. Whatever it is, jot it all down, then take time to reflect on how you might respond to each situation in a healthier way.

Practice relaxation techniquesMeditation, mindfulness and grounding techniques, such as deep breathing exercises, can help calm the mind and body. It helps to regularly practice these relaxation techniques so you can more easily use them when stressed.

Set aside time for yourself. Make time to do things that you enjoy, such as spending quality time with friends and family and exploring new or existing hobbies, suggests Dr. Lassen.

Step away from work. Give yourself space to recharge by turning off notifications and not thinking about work while on vacation. If you work from home, close your office door and shutting your laptop to signal to yourself and others that you’re done working for the day.

Maintain a regular exercise routine. Set aside 30 to 45 minutes for a walk during your workday.

Improve your sleeping habits.  Sleep deficiency can cause impaired daily functioning, productivity, focus and judgment, as well as frustration, crankiness and worry— which can exacerbate workplace strain. The goal should be seven to eight hours of sleep each night.

See a therapist. Talk to a therapist about your specific work situation can help address the impact of work stress on your mental health, offer an outlet for your frustrations and provide productive and healthy coping mechanisms. Happiness book

In my experience, the best way to deal with workplace stress is to take a break when it becomes overbearing. If the stress is due to conflicts with others in the organization, I try to discuss it in a calm voice. I don’t want to exacerbate the situation. If all else fails, I would discuss the matter with a mentor, supervisor, if appropriate, or the HR department

If stress negatively affects your health and welfare then it is time to seriously consider whether remaining with the organization is the way to go. You should never let workplace stressors cause wellness problems. At the first sign of such problems, the techniques in this blog should be used including discussing the matter with a therapist. There are many ways to do so such as online therapies such as Better Help and Talk Space. The online publication Very Well Mind suggests others and provides useful information for those trying to effectively deal with workplace stressors.

It will not come as a surprise to my readers that I link happiness at work to ethical behavior. I discuss these matters in my book, Beyond Happiness and Meaning: Transforming Your Life Through Ethical Behavior. The book can be purchased on my website or Amazon  in Paperback for $9.95 or Kindle @ $2.95.

Posted by Steven Mintz, Ph.D., aka Ethics Sage, on June 4, 2024. You can sign up for his newsletter and learn more about his activities at: