Work stress: the causes

When talking about stress at work, we must remember that work does not only respond to a material need (to feed ourselves), but also to a primordial need to recognize its value in society: we need to provide a job that we judge useful, where we have the feeling to bring something, a work in which we can recognize ourselves.

Work is therefore an essential component of our identity. Since a job takes on average one-third of the life of an asset, it is easy to understand that stress at work quickly becomes exhausting and cumbersome.

Causes of work stress

Contrary to what one often imagines, no situation is stressful in itself: the stress, it is always the result of two evaluations : " what is one asking me? And " what resource do I have " to achieve what is expected of me?

Part of the causes of work-related stress is therefore more or less subjective, linked to the perception everyone has of his working conditions:

  • the amount of work, and in particular the "cost" and the effort that the execution of the work requires from the employee,
  • feeling of sloppy work: failing to reconcile the objectives that are set - quickly and well, in general, gives the feeling of never doing a good quality job,
  • the authority of a chief,
  • lack of recognition: the feeling of doing a job that does not matter to anyone,
  • too heavy responsibilities,
  • (too) repetitive tasks,
  • tasks that are opposed to our values, our ethics, our temperament,
  • uncertainty about the future of the company ...


At the same time, there are certain factors that can affect our ability to deal with stressful situations, for example:

  • the atmosphere at work, the social support (support of colleagues, the chef ...),
  • the possible reward for the efforts provided (increase, premium, job security),
  • the gaze worn by others on his work,
  • autonomy, the degree of freedom the employee has to perform his work,
  • the possible reward (increase, job security ...),
  • the appreciation of the hierarchy, ...

Let us give two examples:

  • A large workload is easier to manage when there is a lot of room for maneuver in the organization of one's work.
  • The pressure (for example an important file to be treated urgently) is easier to manage when one feels supported by his team.

Good relationships with colleagues are a great help to cope with stress at work. While a bad agreement, the moral harassment (law of 2002 in the code of labor) or sexual can quickly turn into a nightmare in its relation with others.

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