Workplace stress

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Stress can be good and stress can be bad. Good stress can help you work harder and make your job more challenging and interesting. Bad stress can be like a 'work-caused disease' and make you feel anxious or depressed. It can also lead to physical health problems like headaches, muscular tension and chronic fatigue.

If you're feeling the effects of the bad kind of stress you need to make some changes at work. Talk to your employer or human resources manager and let them know how you feel. Ask if any changes can be made to your working arrangements in order to minimise the stress you're experiencing. You can also contact WorkSafe Victoria or your union.

What causes stress?

Lots of things can cause you to feel stressed at work. High demands at work + low control over them = stress.

Here are some examples:

  • You're given too much work to do or there aren’t enough people to share the work
  • You haven't received enough training to do your job
  • You're working long hours
  • You're worried you’re going to lose your job ('job insecurity')
  • You're having trouble communicating with someone you work with
  • You're being bullied or harassed

How to avoid stress at work

Stress prevention should be tackled by workers and employers together.

Workers can bring their concerns to the attention of their employers, and suggest ways that things could be changed. Employers can make changes to workers' duties and the workplace. In this way stress reduction becomes a mutual undertaking.

Things that can help to reduce work stresses include:

  • Creating a safe and healthy work environment
  • Consulting about changes to job roles or workplace practices
  • Minimising unpaid overtime
  • Taking a reasonable amount time between shifts and taking regular rest breaks
  • Sharing workloads fairly

What can you do?

As well as thinking of ways to change your behaviour at work, or ways to improve your workplace, there are other ways of staying healthy and avoid stress, like:

  • Eating well and regularly, make sure you take your meal breaks and rest breaks
  • Exercising (this will help you sleep better and give you more energy)
  • Trying some relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation
  • Sleeping for at least seven or eight hours each night
  • Making time to see family and friends

Links to more information about stress at work

OHS Reps - What is Work-Related Stress?
Find out more about work-related stress and its effects

ACTU Worksite
Fact sheet on fatigue, stress and injury in the workplace

WorkSafe Victoria
Information and advice about health and safety at work