Stress in the workplace

Målgruppe: Medarbeidere Tema: HMS
Tagger: hse stress

You can take steps to eliminate the most common sources of stress in the workplace. Examples of such steps could be to take practical measures to increase your control over your workday, increase the quality of and access to necessary information, make sure to take care of positive personal relations, make priorities, etc.

Norsk versjon - Stress på arbeidsplassen

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What is stress? #

Stress is a condition often experienced as negative. Stress occurs when we experience that the requirements for an external situation is beyond our ability to cope with the current situation.

What creates stress? #

We all react differently to incidents and challenges encountered in life. For instance, some people might experience a lot of stress from a transitional period at work, whereas others are looking forward to meeting new people and the challenges that the transition might bring.

The stress level depends on the relation between a primary and secondary assessment we make. The primary assessment is an assessment of something that has already happened, a potential future threat, or whether one sees the situation as a challenge or a potential advantage. The secondary assessment is the assessment of whether one has adequate resources to handle the situation in question. In situations with a significant threat or damage, where we perceive our ability to handle the situation as low, we will experience a high level of stress. When we consider the threat to be low and our ability to handle it high, we experience a low stress level.

Even if we react differently, there are some workplace conditions that generally increase the risk of long-term stress, for instance:

  • The combination of high demands, little control and low access to social support
  • Negative or missing social relations
  • Sustained time pressure
  • Conflicting demands from home and work
  • Role conflicts
  • A perception of lacking coherence and meaning, diffuse objectives
  • Lack of variation
  • Responsibility for others

How to take action against stress? #

You can take steps to eliminate the most common sources of stress in the workplace. Examples of such steps could be to take practical measures to increase your control over your workday, increase the quality of and access to necessary information, make sure to take care of positive personal relations, make priorities, etc.

At the same time, leaders can also work to reduce the risk of excessive stress among employees, by focusing on aspects like:

  • Increasing employees' predictability in terms of tasks and leader behaviour
  • Presence – leaders being available and providing feedback and social support is significant
  • Making sure that employees have a clear understanding of their role
  • Equity in personnel treatment and executive work
  • Opening up for partaking and participation
  • Empowering employees
  • An active workplace policy giving employees flexibility in different phases of life
  • Professional and personal development of employees

Practical advice #

  • Physical activity and exercise
  • Rhythm of life – the ability to balance rest and strain. Awareness and priorities. How should I utilize my time?
  • Set aside time for social gatherings
  • Skills development
  • Distractions: Holidays, play and relaxation
  • Time management: Plan your work, do not postpone important/demanding tasks

Stress management courses and help #

The HSE Division offers courses and guidance in managing stress related challenges. The courses are available as full-day classes or two/three hour classes over several weeks.

Stress assistance is provided on all levels and to individuals, groups and leaders.

Contact #

HSE Division employees – Organizational and psychosocial working environment (in Norwegian)

HSE Division employees – Occupational Health Services (in Norwegian)

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