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The Top 5 Causes Of Stress In The Virtual Working World : Mental Well-Being

Mental Wellness has been the talk of the town ; it is not because it is a fancy jargon but a real state that many are experiencing. Stress can be defined as both a psychological and physical state that usually indicates that an individual is unable to cope with pressure and demands of the situation.

The cause of stress do not happen overnight, it tends to be an accumulation of several factors/causes that tests that employees' coping skills. In many unreported cases, when employees experience any form of change (positive or negative), stress levels will increase and they are pressured to show that they are able to cope even though they are not coping well. For example, employee A, john, is stressed and overworked due to talking on 3 person's responsibility and when asked by manager or leader, john shares that he is able to cope due to the fear of being replaced. Unfortunately, this causes suppression of emotions in john and what is likely to happen next? poor performance? high stress?

The degree of stress experienced depends on the functioning of two protective physiological mechanisms:

c “Alarm reaction”. When confronted with a threat to our safety, our first response is physiological arousal: our muscles tense and breathing and heart rate become more rapid. This serves us well when the threat is the proverbial bull in the field rushing towards us. We either fight or flee. Present day threats tend to be more psychological—for example, unjustified verbal attack by a superior at work. It is usually not socially acceptable to act by “fight or flight”, and an alternative means of expressing the resultant emotional and physical energy is required. This falls in the arena of assertive communication.

c “Adaptation”. The second adaptive mechanism allows us to cease responding when we learn that stimuli in the environment are no longer a threat to our safety. For example, when we first spend time in a house near a railway line, our response to trains hurtling past is to be startled, as described above. Over time, our response dwindles. If this process did not function, we would eventually collapse from physical wear and tear, and mental exhaustion.

What are the causes of stress?

#1 : Job Factors

The job factors are outlined as follows: poor physical working conditions, work overload, time pressures, physical danger and many more. Here are examples of the factors :

Physical Working Conditions :

In the context of working from home, having a poor working environment (e.g. crying from kids, renovation noises, knocking on doors etc) may affect a person's mental well being as the ability to focus diminishes. If you would like to know more about how colours can affect productivity, click here

Work Overload and Time Pressure The sudden increase in workload and time pressure creates stress for employees especially when the work requires a lot more time outside of the working hours or when the work given is out of their competency region.

#2: Organisational Roles

Every employee is expected to perform their roles and responsibilities, however, when there is role ambiguity and conflict, the employee becomes lost and confused. This in turn increases the stress levels of employees, and causes the "alarm reaction" . Unclear work or conflicting roles and boundaries can cause stress, as can having responsibility for people.

#3: Career Development

Development is held strong for many employees as many would be more likely to stay and flourish in an organisation when there are developmental opportunities available. In some cases, employees would experienced over-promotion due to close proximity with leaders or because there was no other person available to take the role. On the other hand, under-promotion occurs when an employee has been taking on roles that requires skills and competencies of his manager and yet the employee is not being recognised with a promotion.

#4: Work Relationships

Have you experienced being happy when you have a bad relationship with the people around you? Have you witnessed your ex-colleagues having a tough time communicating with the boss?Work relationships are important and it is the fundamental of how team work arises when people trust other people to perform their roles and duties.

In a research by Gallup on the effect of having a best friend at work

“Those who [have a best friend at work] are seven times as likely to be engaged in their jobs, are better at engaging customers, produce higher quality work, have higher well-being, and are less likely to get injured on the job.

#5: Organisational Culture

How is decision making being shared in your organisation? Do people have a say in meetings? Are voices being heard when suggestions are given?

If the answers to the questions above are not positive, then the cause of stress could stem from your organisational culture. The culture of an organisation can be defined as the way that people do things, impacts the thoughts, behaviours and action of employees. When office politics stand in the way of meeting deadlines, it causes a huge rift between employee and the team members. This in turn increases the amount of stress for employees.

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