Written by Intern Psychological Counsellor,
What is work-related stress?
Stress is all around us! It is unavoidable even in the workplace. Work-related stress is a harmful emotional and physical response that occurs when workers are presented with work demands and pressures that do not match the resources, capabilities, or needs of the worker and challenge the worker's ability to cope (World Health Organisation, 2020; National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, n.d).
Work-related stress can lead to poor health and injury (NIOSH, n.d).
What causes stress in the workplace?
There are a wide variety of factors that influence how workers react to conditions in the workplace. Workers bring their personalities (disposition, beliefs, traits and behaviours) to their workplace; this affects how they respond to stress and which factors influence these reactions.
According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (2018), several factors within the workplace trigger feelings of stress in workers, namely, career development, roles in the organisation and interpersonal relationships at the workplace.
Career development stressors include workers’ overall job satisfaction, job security and job insecurity and lack of development and growth within the organisation. (CCOHS, 2018; WHO, 2020 ).
Another stressor is the roles workers have in the organisation, and this can include workers feeling uncertain of their roles within an organisation or possessing conflicting roles (CCOHS, 2018; WHO, 2020).
Interpersonal relationships are another stressor within the workplace. These stressors include conflicts between supervisors and coworkers and a lack of trust workers might have in the supervisors and coworkers (CCOHS, 2018; WHO, 2020).
How does stress affect us?
According to the Canadian Centre of Occupational Health and Safety, stress affects us negatively; and our bodies deal with all different types in the same way: with a set of automatic responses. Therefore, dealing with stress for long periods is even more harmful.
Common physical effects include headaches, chest pains, muscle pain, digestive issues, and fatigue. Common mental and emotional effects include increasing forgetfulness, anxiety, irritability, defensiveness and hypersensitivity (2018).
How can employers reduce your stress at the workplace?
Corporate Wellness Magazine classifies workplace stress-reducing interventions into three categories primary, secondary and tertiary (n.d).
Primary interventions are measures preventing stress by removing or reducing potential stressors and focusing on physical and psychosocial stressors.
Secondary interventions are about altering how workers view and respond to stressors and are aimed to improve the workers’ ability to cope with and detect stress early.
Lastly, tertiary interventions for workers already experiencing stress.
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (2018, December 18). Workplace Stress - General. Retrieved February 15, 2023, from
Corporate Wellness Magazine (n.d.). Workplace Stress: A Silent Killer of Employee Health and Productivity. Retrieved February 15, 2023, from
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (n.d.). Stress At Work. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved February 15, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/stress/default.html
World Health Organisation (2020, October 20). Occupational health: Stress at the workplace. Retrieved February 15, 2023, from