Psychosocial risks and stress at the workplace

Psychosocial risks and work stress are among the most difficult problems in the field of health and safety at work. They significantly affect the health of individuals, organizations, and national economies.

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Around half of European workers consider stress to be a common element in their workplaces, contributing to around half of all lost working days. Like many other issues related to mental illness, stress is often misunderstood or stigmatized. However, if psychosocial risks and stress are presented as an organizational problem, and not as a personal defect, they can be managed like any other risk like Locksmith Scarborough to health and safety at work.

What are the psychological risks and stress?

Psychosocial risks derive from deficiencies in the design, organization and management of work, as well as a low social context of work, and can produce negative psychological, physical and social outcomes, such as job stress, burnout or fatigue. Depression. Some examples of working conditions that pose psychosocial risks are:

  • excessive workloads;
  • Contradictory demands and lack of clarity of the functions of the position;
  • lack of participation in making decisions that affect the worker and lack of influence in the way the work is carried out;
  • poor management of organizational changes, job insecurity;
  • ineffective communication, lack of support from management or colleagues;
  • Psychological and sexual harassment, violence by third parties.

When analyzing job demands, it is important not to confuse psychosocial risks such as an excessive workload with situations that, although stimulating and sometimes challenging, offer a work environment in which the worker is supported, receives adequate training and is motivated to do your job to the best of your ability. A supportive psychosocial environment fosters good performance and personal development, as well as the mental and physical well-being of the worker.

Workers experience stress when the demands of their work are greater than their ability to cope. In addition to mental health problems, workers subjected to prolonged periods of stress can develop serious physical health problems, such as cardiovascular disease or musculoskeletal problems.

For the organization, the negative effects translate into a poor overall performance of the company, increased absenteeism, “presenteeism” (workers who go to work when they are sick but are unable to perform effectively) and higher rates of accidents and injuries. Leave tend to be longer than those from other causes, and work-related stress can contribute to higher rates of early retirement. The costs that it entails for companies and society are considerable and have been estimated at billions of euros at the national level.

The World Health Organization proposed stress as one of the diseases of the 21st century. From pioneering studies, stress was defined as General Adjustment Syndrome (GAS) or defensive response of the body or psyche to injury or prolonged stress.

Subsequently, numerous authors have tried to define the state of stress. There is no doubt that the most complete conceptualization of stress came from McEwen who considered it as: “a mental state that arises in the face of a real or supposed threat to the physiological or psychological integrity of an individual and results in a physiological and/or behavioral response.

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