Understanding, managing stress for a healthier, happier workplace

By Michelle Ann Zoleta

Law360 Canada (November 6, 2023, 1:09 PM EST) --
Michelle Ann Zoleta
Michelle Ann Zoleta
Workplace stress is a growing concern in today’s fast-paced world, and it’s a hazard that can significantly impact the health and productivity of employees. If left unaddressed, stress can lead to various challenges in the workplace, including absenteeism, decreased performance, and higher employee turnover. It’s crucial for employers to be aware of the effects of workplace stress and the importance of managing it effectively.

Recent statistics show that workplace stress is a common issue. A survey conducted by Statistics Canada revealed that at least 20 per cent of the employed population in Canada, approximately four million people, experienced “high or very high levels of work-related stress.” This alarming figure underscores the urgency of addressing this issue.

The primary cause of job-related stress, affecting nearly a quarter of employees, is a heavy workload, according to StatsCan. This finding highlights the need for employers to understand the signs and effects of workplace stress and take proactive measures to minimize its impact on their businesses.

Recognizing the signs of stress is crucial in implementing effective strategies and providing support for employees dealing with this issue. Common symptoms of workplace stress include mood swings, a feeling of being overwhelmed, increased irritability, and even physical symptoms like headaches. However, not all stress-related symptoms are easily noticeable by colleagues or managers. Therefore, it’s essential to educate employers about the long-term effects of poorly managed stress and encourage them to seek help when needed.

Workplace stress can have various causes, depending on the nature of the job and how individuals handle stress. However, there are common factors contributing to the feeling of stress and being overwhelmed. These include excessive workload, a lack of work-life balance, limited recognition for employee’s efforts, and a lack of career development opportunities.

Addressing workplace stress is not only a moral responsibility for employers but also a strategic move to reduce employee turnover and boost workplace morale. There are several effective approaches to achieve this.

1. Assess workplace stress risks: Employers can start by conducting risk assessments to identify stressors within the workplace. This step is crucial in understanding the specific stress factors affecting their employees.

2. Cultivate a well-being-orientated culture: Building a workplace culture that prioritizes employee wellbeing is essential. This includes providing stress management resources and creating a supportive environment.

3. Recognize and reward good work: Acknowledging and appreciating employees for their efforts can significantly reduce stress levels and boost staff morale.

4. Normalize conversations about workplace stress: Normalizing this conversation can help employees feel more comfortable seeking help and resources.

It's important to note that while workplace stress cannot be completely eliminated, employers can play a vital role in creating a safe space for employees to voice their concerns and access resources that can help them navigate through their stress. By addressing workplace stress effectively, employers can not only improve the overall wellbeing of their staff but also enhance the success and sustainability of their businesses.

Michelle Ann Zoleta is health and safety advice manager at Peninsula Canada.

The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author’s firm, its clients, Law360 Canada, LexisNexis Canada, or any of its or their respective affiliates. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.  

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