The Many Kinds of Stressors in the Workplace

Work stressors are often identified in relation to the company itself. However, they're also associated with the individual and their own position in the company.
The Many Kinds of Stressors in the Workplace

Last update: 17 August, 2021

It’s an unfortunate fact that stressors in the workplace are pretty frequent. In fact, they’re far more common than you probably think. This is an important fact, as your performance and well-being can be significantly affected by them.

Although the causes aren’t always clear, in most cases, these stressors can be easily defined and even solvable.

Firstly, it’s important to distinguish between specific and sustained work stress. In other words, it’s one thing to suffer extreme stress due to a particular project or a temporary excessive workload. However, it’s another for anxiety to accumulate and extend over time. As a matter of fact, this can be dangerous and could even lead to serious illness.

In episodes of work stress, the worker may feel anxious by the idea that the demands of their environment greatly exceed their capabilities and resources. In fact, something that theoretically should be easy to solve isn’t always the case. Particularly if the requirements of the employer and employee don’t really match.

Consequently, the reasons for work stress can be several and diverse. For example, an excessive workload is an extremely common cause. Also, insignificant (or non-existent) reward, the toxicity of bosses or colleagues, a feeling of stagnation,  lack of motivation, professional development, or personal control over tasks, etc

Work stressors

Job stressors are multiple

The different types of work stressors tend to fall into three main groups:

  • Related to the organization itself.
  • Related to the workplace.
  • Generated in the individual.

Let’s take a look at them in more detail.

These kinds of stressors occur in a “bad” kind of organization. In other words, a company that inadequately designs work, or promotes an unproductive or motivating work environment, etc. In this kind of scenario, the following problems might occur.

  • Role conflict. The employee doesn’t know exactly what’s expected of them, receives contradictory orders, and isn’t clear about their responsibilities.
  • Overload. With this bad distribution of work, the employee is forced to take on responsibilities that don’t concern them or for which they’re not prepared.
  • Inadequate communication. There are communication problems between the parties, a conflict between departments and unclear or contradictory orders, etc.
  • Lack of development. The management of a company doesn’t help in the development of the professional and educational career of the worker. Consequently, the employee feels dissatisfied.
  • Structure. Communications from the hierarchy don’t successfully reach all employees.
  • Climate. Excess control or tension in the work environment may even result in extreme situations such as mobbing or burnout.
  • Services. Insufficient services are offered to the employee. For example, no cafeteria, minimal parking, etc.

The workplace itself can also be a work stressor for a number of reasons. Let’s see under what conditions this undesirable situation can occur:

  • Insecurity. Precarious work is a source of stress.
  • Mental Burden. Employment that requires long-term mental effort can be risky.
  • Control. The employee doesn’t control the tasks to be carried out. Therefore, they can’t organize their schedule and everything depends on third parties.
  • Complexity. The task to be carried out is complicated or monotonous.
  • Identity. The worker doesn’t know the effect of their role in the organizational context. In fact, they consider that what they do is of no real use.
  • Relationships. Relationships in the work environment, both with colleagues and with other departments, aren’t satisfactory.
  • Physical conditions. The workplace has inadequate lighting, is excessively noisy, or is too hot, etc.
  • Materials. The employee doesn’t have the appropriate materials to carry out their task.
  • Risks. The employee may have to take physical risks. For example, those related to long hours of monotonous work, poor posture, excessive weight-bearing or having to deal with toxic materials, etc
  • Shifts. Excessive shift changes have a negative psychological and physical impact on the employee.
  • Remuneration. Insufficient remuneration has a negative impact on the employee.
  • Hours. Both the long working day and a lack of breaks and vacations are extremely harmful to the employee.
Stressed woman

Finally, there are the work stressors that depend directly on the individual themselves. They usually appear due to the imbalances of demands in relation to the employee’s own abilities and their personality :

  • Emotional control. The employee loses their ability to remain calm in certain situations and can’t maintain balance.
  • Empathy. They’re unable to empathize with colleagues, bosses, subordinates, etc.
  • Self-motivation. A lack of it appears in employees who are unable to make sense of the task they do.
  • Lack of determination. It appears due to the lack of organization and systematization of the employee’s tasks.
  • Stability. The emotional state of the employee influences their performance.
  • Habits. A lack of healthy habits is harmful. For example, a good diet is necessary, as well as correct behavior, and sufficient rest.

These are the most common stressors that experts have discovered. Do you recognize any of them in yourself?

It might interest you...
What Makes You Vulnerable to Work-Related Stress?
Exploring your mindRead it in Exploring your mind
What Makes You Vulnerable to Work-Related Stress?

you don't know quite how, but you're able to complete everything. But then the next day comes and you suffer a new setback that gives you even more...

 



  • Buendía, J. y Ramos, F. (2001). Empleo, estrés y salud. Madrid: Ed. Pirámide.
  • Del Hoyo Delgado, M. A. (2001). Estrés laboral. Madrid: Instituto Nacional de Seguridad e Higiene en el Trabajo.