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What Is an Occupational Stress Indicator?

By B. Miller
Updated May 17, 2024
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An occupational stress indicator is something that serves as a measure for employee stress in the workplace, or an example of something that has been known to cause stress in the past. Psychologists and researchers have developed these occupational stress indicators to share with business managers and organization leaders, who may then be able to notice these indicators and take steps to reduce the stressors as much as possible. This can help to increase employee health, happiness, and productivity; they may even cut down on work-related accidents. In general, an occupational stress indicator will fall into one of a few relatively broad categories related to an employee's role at work, and his or her relationships with colleagues and management.

It is important to recognize that job stress can come from many different aspects of work. Frequent conflicts with coworkers or managers are one common source, but there are many others. An occupational stress indicator that is often overlooked is an employee feeling that he or she has a lack of control, or that her skills are not recognized, appreciated, or used. An employee who feels undervalued will often experience more stress at work than one who feels that her strengths and skills are noticed, appreciated, and put to good work. This type of appreciation also contributes to a feeling of job security and reduces employee stress.

Another common occupational stress indicator is when an employee feels that his or her role is unclear. This person may not be sure what the job specifically entails, or may frequently receive conflicting information from superiors as to what he or she should be doing. This speaks to overall poor management in the organization. A workplace that provides frequently changing workloads to employees, or that does not appear to be interested in career development or offering employees opportunities for advancement, is also a frequent source of occupational stress.

Unsafe working environments, or even simply unpleasant working environments that are noisy, or otherwise not conducive to productive work, may also cause job-related stress. This is not a comprehensive list of the various occupational stress indicators that may be present in a workplace, but they are some of the most common examples. Workplaces may not be able to directly measure each occupational stress indicator in their employees, but a general knowledge of these issues can make it easier to resolve problems, and ensure a happy and productive workplace.

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Discussion Comments

By Animandel — On Apr 08, 2014

Many employers still don't understand the relationship between occupational stress and poor job performance. In fact, it is still common practice for employers to ignore occupational stress indicators and instead blame workers for not being able to thrive in a hostile work environment.

In addition to causing workers to work less efficiently, occupational stress can lead to health issue that actually cause them to miss time at work, which costs the employer in the long run. Used properly, occupational stress indicators provide a great way for companies to monitor their employees and create a more effective workplace.

For the employee, occupational stress can also affect his or her life outside of the workplace. This means that the worker's family and friends will probably be exposed to the stress in negative ways.

By Laotionne — On Apr 07, 2014

I just want to express my agreement with the section of this article that talks about receiving conflicting messages and different instructions from the people who supervise your work and how this causes occupational stress.

There have been times when one of my managers would compliment me on a job well done when I completed a particular project. This of course would make me feel good about my qualifications to hold my position, and the encouraging words also made me feel good about myself.

Then, at some point, another manager would come to me and explain to me why the exact work that I had been complimented on was not acceptable. This is so discouraging, and when this happens you are always looking over your shoulder waiting for the ax to fall.

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