Workplace stress is the physical and/or emotional reactions you may have to unrelieved and intense pressures in your workplace. It creates risk to personal and workplace health and safety.
A certain level of stress can be useful: your adrenaline kicks in and you become motivated to meet a challenge and perform at your best.
But when that is constant and the pressures are overwhelming, your physical and emotional responses build up, your judgment and wellbeing can be affected, which can lead to serious health effects and safety issues.
Health/personal effects of stress
People can experience stress in different ways. Different personalities may be more resilient than others, but this does not lessen the significance of stress as a work health and safety issue.
Stress can cause people to:
- experience anxiety, low self-esteem, depression, aggression, lack of motivation
- drink or take drugs to cope
- experience (in the short-term) muscle tension, headaches. Increased blood pressure and heart rates
- potentially develop cardiovascular disease, reduced immunity, or have existing health problems aggravated.
Workplace effects of stress
If you have high levels of stress in your workplace, you may see:
- increased incidents and injuries: stress can affect concentration and judgment, and be the underlying cause of incidents and mistakes
- increased absenteeism or staff turnover, reduced productivity.
You can manage stress in your workplace just as you do any other hazard. If you’re a person conducting a business or undertaking, you have a duty to ensure the health and safety of your workers, and this includes their mental health and safety.
Our Mentally healthy workplaces page details workplace strategies for identifying and managing causes of mental harm, and these apply to workplace stress.
If you’re experiencing stress
Our Mentally healthy workplaces page details strategies for managing mental harm, and these apply to workplace stress.