What Causes Organizational Stress And How Can It Be Combated?

The Symptoms Of Organizational Stress

Uncertainty, complexity, volatility, and ambiguity are a few of the main factors leading to organizational stress that costs American companies over $300 billion a year. Individuals usually can’t manage their stress and end up feeling tired, with increased palpitations and tense muscles. Over time, stress can weaken one’s immune system, leading to headaches, high blood pressure, insomnia, an upset stomach, and depression. Additionally, excessive stress can lead to procrastination, decreased attention span, and poor execution of work-related tasks. As a result, employees require extra time off from work. Some people may even resort to unhealthy habits, such as excessive drinking, to treat their anxiety.

The Most Common Causes And Consequences

Excessive Workload

Many companies bestow on their employees too many responsibilities and tasks, overwhelming them. Tight deadlines push people to work long hours without necessarily receiving monetary gains. As a result, workers are constantly stressed and may even experience burnout. Their physical and mental health suffers, and they may be absent more frequently to try and treat their stress. Sleep deprivation is also a direct consequence of anxiety, which makes employees unable to be fully productive and innovative at their work. Therefore, mistakes are a common issue, and the overall quality of their work drops significantly.

Inadequate Resources

For any individual to be efficient and successful, they need two types of resources: personal and organizational. The first type refers to attributes like resilience, self-efficacy, and a personal sense of optimism. The second type is about manager support, clear objectives, social support, and safe working space. When organizations are unable to offer their employees the structure and support they need at work, individuals have a hard time feeling confident and free to do their jobs. For example, missing necessary technology and not receiving adequate training can make people feel alone and abandoned, while upper management often expects top results.

Lack Of Control

When employees are micromanaged or are not adequately trained to perform their daily tasks, they may feel like they don’t have control over their work. Excessive bureaucracy can also make them feel like they can’t make their own decisions or fix their schedule. As a result, they feel helpless and stuck in situations that are out of their hands. Stress takes over their bodies and minds as they feel powerless in their workplace. Additionally, employee morale is affected, too, and they don’t believe their professional growth is encouraged. When they don’t feel entrusted to do their job independently, feelings of stagnation arise, and they may decide to look for different opportunities.

Job Insecurity

Individuals feel insecure at work due to a variety of factors, including inadequate income, fear of being laid off, stressful working conditions, and an unstable working environment. For example, someone who works for a company that keeps firing people and hiring replacements keeps them in constant fear for their position. Not knowing if they’ll be employed next month makes people worry about whether they’ll cover their monthly expenses. Lastly, unstable workplaces and constant changes also lead to organizational stress. Downsizing, mergers, and restructuring leave people wondering whether their position will be maintained.

Poor Leadership

Every employee needs a manager or supervisor to be in regular contact with to discuss daily tasks and issues that arise. When leadership doesn’t exist, though, workers don’t receive any feedback or support. They proceed to conduct their daily responsibilities, not knowing whether they are successful or not. This may also mean that they don’t understand what the company expects of them. As a result, employees feel confused and stressed regarding their position and their performance. Their well-being is highly affected, and they are less motivated to do their job. Also, not receiving any sort of recognition for their accomplishments makes them feel undervalued.

Poor Work-Life Balance

A good work-life balance means that employees disconnect from anything work-related as soon as they exit their workplace. However, on many occasions, people answer emails, contact clients, and work from home way past their work hours. To do this, they might cancel plans with friends and family and lock themselves in their bedroom while their family is enjoying a relaxed evening. Not being able to disconnect from work creates excessive organizational stress that affects anyone’s well-being.

How To Effectively Treat Organizational Stress

Increase Physical Activity

Eliminating stress isn’t possible, but managing and diminishing its effects is doable. Through regular exercise, individuals who suffer from stress relieve fatigue and improve alertness and concentration. Their cognitive function improves, and they can be productive in their daily tasks. Aerobic exercise, in particular, decreases tension, stabilizes one’s mood, and improves sleep and self-esteem. But exercising doesn’t strictly refer to highly energetic activities. Yoga is a wonderful solution, promoting relaxation and breathing techniques that calm one’s brain and bring peace. Some people may even choose a laughter yoga session, where they release tension through laughter.

Keep A Stress Diary

Stress journaling is a great way to vent and release built-up anxiety on a piece of paper. It helps people clarify their emotions and thoughts, giving them a clearer picture of the things that trigger them. Also, this practice can help them review their problems and stress sources and think of possible ways to overcome them. When people write down their feelings, they reframe them and view them from a different perspective that may be more sympathetic and calm. It’s okay to have bad emotions, and accepting them will help people regain power and not be judgmental of themselves.

Increase Communication And Support

Organizations are responsible for training their managers to stay in frequent contact with employees and guide them through their daily needs. Being clear about personal and team goals and giving timely feedback helps employees get a sense of belonging and feel valued. Managers should refrain from micromanaging their teams and instead offer them the freedom to express their opinions and make decisions. By feeling ownership and pride in their work, employees reduce organizational stress and feel supported. Support will be further promoted through weekly check-ins, where both sides will share their thoughts and get to know each other on a more personal level.

Develop Corporate Wellness Programs

Wellness programs are becoming more necessary as the years go by, and employees admit to suffering from stress. Individuals who are mentally healthy and stable are more likely to stay with their employer for longer. This means that their satisfaction levels increase, and they can focus more efficiently on their job instead of worrying about the various stressors. A few elements companies can incorporate into their wellness programs include nutrition education, health risk assessments, biometric screenings, stress management programs, and gym memberships. Offering personalized options will help each employee feel valued and appreciated in their position.

Redesign Jobs And Set Realistic Goals

Employees are often placed in positions with extremely high demands and responsibilities that may require additional colleagues to complete. These positions may also feature unrealistic goals that no individual on their own can achieve within the given deadlines. Organizations should monitor employees to notice any weaknesses or poor performance. Maybe they need to recruit extra personnel and redesign this position to remove some responsibilities from it. Also, they should rotate people based on their strengths. Lastly, targets should be realistic, and employees must have a logical time frame to reach them. Otherwise, they will work themselves to exhaustion.


In the fast-paced world in which people live and work today, stress is unavoidable, but organizations and individuals can act fast to diminish it. Implementing resourceful strategies and taking care of one’s health can improve workforce morale and create better work-life balances. No employee is productive when work takes up all the space in their mind and they are overwhelmed by their responsibilities. Investing in personal habits and developing corporate tactics can tackle organizational stress and improve team dynamics.

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