Stress in the workplace is a growing concern for employees and employers in Australia. Figures show that while compensation claims made by Australian employees have fallen significantly over the past few years, the number of stress related claims have almost doubled.


Workplace stress is the response people may experience when presented with
work demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope.

Left unattended chronic stress can produce both physical and psychological symptoms. Chronic stress can look like depression, disorganisation, lack of caring or an attitude problem and cause a number of physical side effects such as tension pains, sleep deprivation, appetite disturbance and nausea.

Respite, Relaxation and Sleep are the only natural ways to relieve the stress symptoms. Chronic stress can reduce quite quickly once some relief from the main stressors is achieved. Once the energy reserves have recovered somewhat, it is important to address the stressors in some permanent way, or the process repeats itself within a short time. 

The Facts

In 2008 Medicare reported:

- Workplace stress is costing the Australian economy $14.81 billion a year

- Stress related presenteeism and absenteeism are directly costing Australian employers $10.11 billion a year

- 3.2 days per worker are lost each year through workplace stress
 There are two key types stressor to look out for.

External Stressors consume much energy and reduce the  opportunities   for relaxation and replenishment. These may  include crises, traumatic events, abuse, conflicts and major  changes, to everyday family and work commitments or just an over packed schedule. Exercise is a powerful remedy for accumulating stress, but often we do not leave enough time or energy in our day to allow our bodies the benefits of exercise.

Internal Stressors include our own expectations, ideas, beliefs and memories. Basically whenever there is a big difference between reality and what we expect, this creates inner tension. Sometimes what we expect is much worse than what actually happen, so we suffer exhausting amounts of needless anxiety. Often it is our idea of what 'should' be that leaves us feeling angry, guilty, anxious, or hurt much of the time. We can trap ourselves in difficult situations feeling we 'shouldn't' or 'couldn't' adopt an otherwise obvious solution.

Often the hardest thing is to step outside your situation and see what is causing the problem. Changing attitudes or habits is very hard, especially when they date back to your youth or childhood, and special strategies are sometimes needed to bring about new options and making them 'stick'. Training in assertiveness, problem solving or decision making can also do much to smooth your path towards achieving a less stressful life.

The burden of workplace stress on employers is significant and represents an area in which preventative measures may produce strong economic and productivity gains for the employer and the broader economy. To minimise the detrimental effects of stress on both employees and organisations, employers should make a conscious effort to identify and address the causes of stress in the workplace.

For a quick way to check stress levels in your workplace check out our Life Event Stress Scale.

This information was provided by Clinical Psychologist, Anette Renneflott for more information you can contact her on 07 3206 6866.