The undermined compared to men, especially in the workforce.

The Silent Killer: Stress and Lack of
Stress Management

“It’s not the
load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.” These are strong words
said by Lou Holtz, that accurately depict the status of what it is like to be
living with stress in the Canadian workforce today. Stress which employees carry from outside
of their job also puts a strain on individuals. While some stress can motivate
and help you accomplish tasks more effectively, high levels of stress will do
the opposite, especially stress related to gender related conflicts which may
arise at work. By educating workers on the stark differences between good and
bad stress, employers will find that the state of their employees and business
will be impacted positively. In order to tame this silent killer, stress management is necessary in order to help workers in the
workforce in terms of gender related conflicts in the workplace, conflict
created by other individuals and losses that occur in the business due to
improper stress management.

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Background

According to an article published in 2013, “the term stress was
borrowed from the field of physics by one of the fathers of stress research
Hans Selye. In physics, stress describes the force that produces strain on a
physical body” (History of stress, n.d., para. 1). This means that stress is
not just a part of human nature, but that it is a concept that can be applied
to every little thing in the universe. Not only can it be deadly to
individuals, it can disrupt any physical body.

Significance

In society today, it is a known fact that
stress is impacting the workforce harder than ever before. An article published
in 2015, written by Susan Crompton, actively portrays that stress is very much
on the rise in society:

…public
civil servants’ work-related stress rose from 10.8% in 2006 to 22.4% in 2013
and about one-third of the workforce has taken more than 20 days of leave due
to stress-related ill-health, while well over 50% are present at work when ill
(French, 2015).
These findings are consistent with a report by the International Labor
Organization (ILO, 2012),
whereby 50% to 60% of all workdays are lost due to absence attributed to factors
associated with work stress. (Crompton, 2015, para. 14)

Gender Equality and Stress in the
Workplace

It is not a new concept in society today
that women are drastically undermined compared to men, especially in the
workforce. In an article in The Guardian, published in 2016, psychiatrist dr.
Judith Mohring states that “Women faced
additional workplace pressures, such as having to prove they were as good as
men, not being valued or promoted, unequal pay, and being expected to look the part” (Batty, 2016). This
explains why women are less ambitious, weak, and frail. But to understand that
they are not, one must put themselves into their shoes.

Women Lack Ambition in the Workplace

The stereotype of women not being able to
handle management positions is usually explained by the ambition levels of both
genders, and how women are less ambitious than men when it comes to work,
however, a study conducted by the World Economic Forum shows that:

After a survey of
nearly 30,000 men and women in North American companies, they found that women
and men are almost exactly equal in their ambition levels – 78% and 75%
respectively. This shifts as the job gets bigger: 53% of men want to be a top
executive but only 43% of women do (although that is more than 0%). The
presence or absence of children for women is not the determiner of ambition.
(Liswood, 2015, para. 2)

This means that women are undermining themselves in
the workplace, and because of this their quality of work suffers, which leads
to more stress for them and they do not have any proper stress management
methods accessible to them from their job. This in turn piles more stress onto
these women, and creates issues in their physical and mental well-being.

Too Much Power in the Hands of a Woman

Women are stereotyped as the individuals
who are fragile, and depend on men to survive, however, in most cases this
stereotype is incorrect because in the workplace today women have to constantly
change their forms of communicating ideas to their male colleagues as an
attempt to soften the blow to their egos. “Women have to constantly balance “how”
they say things versus “what” they say. sic Often because of beliefs about
what strong or angry women sound like, she must use some form of disarming
mechanism such as ritual modesty, mitigation, apology, question, or a smile.”
(Liswood, 2015, para. 5). This creates an extra load of stress for women as they now have to watch
their mouths and complete tasks on time on top of other stress that they may be
already carrying. This in turn explains why women are more stressed in the
workplace than men.

Putting on the Shoes of
a Woman

The
World Economic Forum author Laura Liswood, ranks putting oneself into the shoes
of a woman as a necessity in order to slow down the impacts that stress has on
women at work. “To
reduce the stress for women to succeed and attain the highest levels of
leadership we need to start at the micro level. We need to understand what it
is like to live day to day in the workplace.” (Liswood, 2015, para. 9). This
means that to understand what women endure in the workplace that causes them so
much stress, one must place themselves into their position before they can
completely understand.

Conflicts and Lack of
Stress Management

The
workplace is an environment where individuals must interact with one another to
complete tasks, and because of opposing viewpoints, it is not difficult to
bring about an argument. This idea gets worse when the jobs are very high-level
and require large amounts of thinking. In the article written by Crompton, she
states that:

Highly
stressed workers who identified their job or workplace as their main source of
stress were well-educated…and over one-half held white-collar jobs in
management, professional or technical occupations…the largest group (45%)
reported a household income of $100,000 or more; only 17% had incomes under
$60,000. (Crompton, 2015, para. 17)

This means that workers who make higher income are more strained at work
due to their tasks, and they do not have any proper methods of releasing that
stress, as there are no aids provided to them by their employers.

Employees Need More
Decisions to Make

When
things are decided for an employee, it becomes difficult for them to understand
the information that is being given to them. The academic journal written by
Susan Michie states that “…work related strain and risks to health are most likely to
arise when high job demands are coupled with low decision latitude (that is,
low personal control over work and limited opportunities to develop skills).”
(Michie, 2002, para. 15). Because some jobs require more work and less decision making, this can
lead to conflicts between employers and employees, which can result in too much
stress that may impact the quality of work if not handled properly.

Stress Due to Serious
Conflicts

A small
argument over an idea that was shared over the conference room table is a
healthy conflict, as it shows that different people have different ideas about
how things should be done. But when a conflict leads to something beyond that,
such as ignoring a colleague, that becomes mistreatment. The academic journal
written by Sharon Glazer and Cong Liu states that “typical
workplace mistreatment behaviors include gossiping, rude comments, showing
favoritism, yelling, lying, and ignoring other people at work (Tepper &
Henle, 2011).”
(Glazer & Liu, 2017). These behaviors can emotionally drain an individual and lead to stress.
If not handled correctly it can also lead to more conflicts. This means that
the stress management options in the workplace are not adequate to help an
individual in this type of situation.

Losses that Occur in
Businesses due to Stress

Time is
money, and if employees are taking days off work, that means that there is
something wrong in the way that the business is being run. Karen Higginbottom,
a professor in London, explains that “absence levels were also
influenced by stress with highly stressed employees taking an average of 4.6
sick days per year compared to 2.6 days for employees reporting low stress
levels.” (Higginbottom, 2014, para. 6) The logic here is, the more sick days a worker
takes, the more stress the worker is under. This means that the productivity
for the business suffers a loss because the employees cannot be at work due to
the mental strain they have been put under, not to mention the employee who now
must combat the stress they have been put under in order to complete the task.

Government Funding for
Sick Leave

Because
of being under constant stress, employees can develop chronic stress which if
not dealt with properly, can lead to serious health issues. An article on CBC
news, written by Andre Mayer, concludes that “it
is estimated that between compensation to sick workers and lost productivity,
mental health issues cost the Canadian economy $50 billion a year.” (Mayer,
2012, para. 17). Instead of
the government taking actions to increase stress management programs, they are
paying huge costs to employees to aid their mental and emotional stress. While
this may be helping to reduce stress in the workplace, it is not enough to just
pay for the expenses of mental health issues caused by stress, prevention is
they key to limiting the amount of stress found in the workplace.

Impacts of Stress
Management to a Business

In a
business where the main source of income is from clients, it is important that
the first impression of the business be that it is a stress-free environment
where employees are allowed to work at their own pace. As according to Amy
Vetter, “…happy employees create
happy clients and are the foundation for making your business successful over
the long run.” (Vetter, 2016, para. 11). If workers are better taken care of, this means
that they will put in more effort to do work, which means that the company will
make more money which will in turn benefit the business.

Stress Creates a Better
Working Environment

Some
argue that stress in the workplace is a necessity if employers want employees
to get things done. Brute force is never truly the best way to fight a war, and
it certainly isn’t the best way to complete tasks at work. Belle Beth Cooper
argues that “study showed that the body’s stress
response actually becomes more healthy when we believe it can be beneficial to
us.” (cooper, 2016, para. 19), in a survey that she conducted, and she also
found that “…the
participants who had the lowest risk of dying during the study were not those
who experienced the lowest amount of stress. In fact, they were the people who said they didn’t believe stress was
harmful to their health.” (cooper, 2016, para. 18).

The Validity of the
Opposition

Stress
has too many side effects to just look at one positive outlook of being
stressed, when there is a limited amount of stress it may be beneficial,
however if there is too much going at once, it is always harmful to the
individual. When talking about positive impacts of stress, there are very
limited health benefits that come along with it. While it may improve blood
circulation in certain individuals, it also creates high blood pressure and
anxiety in others. This means that depending on the person, stress can have
different symptoms.

Conclusion

To
conclude, stress management is important in a work environment, as it can come
from many different areas, whether it be gender inequality, conflicts, or
stress over loss of business or employees, however, when dealt with at the
right time, it can change the outlook of both the business and the employees.
Because stress management is very uncommon in Canada, it is not something that
is talked about very often in the workplace. Workers are often left to deal
with it themselves, or contain it so that they can continue to do their work.
This is turn causes many problems, both for the individual and for the business
which they work for.