Work Stress Sources

Work stress is real, you feel it every day, but you can rarely identify its sources.

The things that cause stress are countless. They can take many forms and can come from many sources. Stress can be positive. Sometimes. But, as with too much of anything, too much stress is never a good thing.

The same goes for job stress.



Too much stress doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a constant, continuous accumulation of factors and stressful situations. Some people seem to know better how to deal with them. They know how to switch off and “hit refresh”.

But, more and more people these days seem to have lost the awareness when it comes to what causes us to feel stressed, and, as a consequence, they have lost de capacity to deal with stress in an effective manner (pause, reflect, relax, recharge, start again with a better perspective).

In this article, we take a closer look at what could be the most impactful sources of job stress.




1. Heavy workload

If your work days are like a sprint, when you give everything for a short period of time, and you can take a moment to relax afterward, at the end of the day you’re happy and full of positive energy. You achieved something and you can even take a moment to admire the results of your work.

But if your work days look more like a marathon? When you keep grinding with no pause. And if we add to that the feeling of having worked the whole day without having done too much, the image is rather grim, right?


2. Failing to take enough time out and relax

See point 1. above. Are you a marathon runner or a sprinter? Can you effectively change your working style from working around the clock with no pauses to do highly focused work for shorter periods and take breaks in between?




3. Random interruptions

Being interrupted often causes not only a higher level of stress but also a lower quality of our actual work. Deep, highly focused, high quality work is becoming rare these days.


4. Lack of control over the outcomes of your work

You poured all your heart into it, but there are so many factors that influence the process, that you can’t seem to have any impact on the final result. Frustrating and, of course, stressful.


5. Mistrust, unwritten office policies and politics, low team morale

You can’t see time going by when you work with an enthusiastic, high energy team. I will let you imagine the speed of time with the opposite type of team.




6. Juggling work and personal life

Heavy workload, little or no time for admin work and personal life, the nagging feeling of so many things left on the to-do list, end up by taking their toll.


10 job stress causes


7. Being unappreciated

How did you feel the last time you did a good job and nobody seemed to notice it? And the time before? And the time before?


8. Lack of two-way communication, an inconsistent review process

When was the last time you received constructive feedback? Other than the annual review? (provided that could be considered constructive feedback).




9. Career and job ambiguity

This is more a consequence of the previous two points above. But let’s think about it for a moment: how would you feel to have a pretty good idea about how your career will look like in, say 5 years (or even 1 year) from now? Relaxed, right?


10. Unclear company direction and policies

Same as above. Just at a bigger scale.


If you want to learn how to better manage work stress:

Jon Kabat-Zinn – Full Catastrophe Living (Revised Edition): Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness

Robert M. Sapolsky – Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers

David Allen – Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity




You might also like:

quotes on change management

Quotes on Change Management from 15 Famous Change Makers

A collection of 15 wise change management quotes from some of the most well-known change...
Leadership Books - The Busy Lifestyle

5 of the Best Leadership Books – Older but Not Obsolete

When you choose the next book to read, do you choose the newest and shiniest...
Lean manufacturing principles

From Lean Manufacturing to Lean (Almost) Everything

You can argue that the Lean Manufacturing concept had its glory days, and that there are a lot of limitations to it (some of them resulting from our own limited understanding of the fundamentals of the concept), but still: it’s not all bad.

For those who still wonder what lean manufacturing is

Lean manufacturing (or lean) is a systematic way of reducing waste while continuously improving the quality of the product, in accordance with the values desired by the customer.  

The origin of lean manufacturing

Surprisingly, Henry Ford was not the initiator of the lean manufacturing.

The origins of lean manufacturing go back as far as 1450s at the Arsenal in Venice.

In the modern era, Henry Ford brought back to life the idea of integrated manufacturing processes, by standardizing the parts and the sub-processes involved, and creating the “flow production” – the (in)famous assembly lines.

The lack of variety in his product-offering was one of the reasons Ford’s model worked so well.

As soon as companies were trying to add some variety in their production processes, this model started to show its limits.

Taiichi Ono and Kiichiro Toyoda were those who found a way to put the two elements together: increased product complexity without compromising the quality of the final product and insuring the continuity in the process flow.

They called their invention the Toyota Production System.

James P. Womack analyzed the thought process that created the lean concept in The Machine That Changed the World.


The 5 Lean Manufacturing Principles

Later, in his other book Lean Thinking, he identified the 5 lean principles as follows:

1. Identifying and defining the value desired by the customer

2. Mapping the value stream (and trying to eliminate the waste-generating process steps)  
time management tips

Time Management Tips – 19 Busy Leaders Share Theirs

You're doing a good job managing your busy schedule. You know by now a lot of time management tips and tricks. But there are moments when you feel like you could do an even better job if you knew how to improve your time management techniques.

So you start reading books. The books give you the time management tips, strategies and resources you are looking for. And they even work, sometimes, and most of the times, not that much.


But there is still this nagging question:

What is the time management tip that could make your time management strategy the perfect one?

What do others do? What do busy leaders do? How do they manage their time to be able to balance their personal and professional lives? By adding more value to their lives and professional activities.


We have asked 19 business leaders and entrepreneurs these 2 questions:

A. What is the activity that you do on a regular basis that adds value to your company?

B. What is the activity that you do on a regular basis that adds value to your life?

They will be talking about business development, understanding the needs of their customers, networking, reading, learning, improving themselves so they can better improve their business, "me" time, family time, quiet time, "off-the-grid" time, health, balance, and, quite unexpected from busy people, physical exercise.


Because the answer might be that, instead of squizing more activities inside your day, you should be selective with the activities you focus your attention on. And by selecting the most important activities, and doing them on a regular basis, you could add more value to your life and professional activity, than by just mindlessly adding more activities to your to-do list.

Think of this as time management tips with a twist.


1. Susan Goldsworthy

Founder, Goldswolf & Associates

A. What is the activity that you do on a regular basis that adds value to your company?

Continuous, connected, curious learning - gifts from caring, daring & sharing with others.

B. What is the activity that you do on a regular basis that adds value to your life?

3Ms - Mini Mindfulness Moments


2. Guillaume Pahud

CEO and Founder, Dot Stories

A. What is the activity that you do on a regular basis that adds value to your company?

The main activity that brings value to the company is the social media - posting, looking at what people and prospects are saying online.

B. What is the activity that you do on a regular basis that adds value to your life?

I go out and run - I try to stay fit and go out running a few times per week.


3. Arnaud Barray

Ambassador and Partner, uKonect

A. What is the activity that you do on a regular basis that adds value to your company?

I think about our product and what problems we are solving for our customers. It helps me to make sure we have a market and to see if our product is fit to answer the needs of our users.

B. What is the activity that you do on a regular basis that adds value to your life?

The activity that I do on a regular basis is networking. Whether online or through events or meetings you learn from people and it is a way to improve yourself and your business. Meeting new people will always bring us more opportunities.


4. Tafsir Ba

Co-Founder, Wild Dots

A. What is the activity that you do on a regular basis that adds value to your company?

The biggest problem I face is the fact that, too often, one ends up drifting into non added value tasks that drown resources without generating opportunities.

Entrepreneur mindset - the busy lifestyle

Entrepreneur Mindset: You Fight Stress by Knowing Its Sources

The entrepreneur mindset is a way of life. It's not easy going, it's not glamouros. It's fulfilling, but it's also incredibly stressful.

Stress as an entrepreneur is different from stress in the office, but it's stress nevertheless.

If you are an entrepreneur, you already know entrepreneurs are stressed too. You might have been experiencing all of them by now (and some more). Even if your entrepreneurial mindset says you can cope with it, sometime it's worth identifying where stress is coming from, so you can better fight it.

For those dreaming about an idyllic life as a start-up entrepreneur, the reality is a little different. The purpose of this post is not to dissuade you from becoming an entrepreneur. It's just a warning sign for what lies ahead.


This is article is also meant to be a warning sign for those who dream about becoming an entrepreneur one day.

It might be a good idea to compare the sources of stress in the office and the sources of stress for an entrepreneur. Before jumping ship, ideally.


1. Financial matters

Finding funding, collecting receivables, payroll, burn rate, cash flow.

All are very well known expressions for the entrepreneur. And also, all are very well known sources of stress.


2. Sales issues

And all the factors affecting sales: economic downturn, a customer loss, finding new customers, dealing with demanding customers, etc.