10 Main causes of stress in the workplace

10 Main causes of stress in the workplace

An estimated 83% of employees in the United States say they live with work-related stress. The causes of stress in the workplace can widely vary, from demanding deadlines to difficult coworkers. Being stressed is more than just causing tension, though. It often results in exhaustion and psychological issues when not appropriately addressed.

Why should you care? Employee well-being is directly related to productivity, motivation, and, ultimately, reduced employee turnover and higher profits —so it’s worth looking at the causes of employee stress at work and what you can do about it, whether it be providing therapy for employees or reducing workload. 

The bottom line is that organizations of all sizes and industries need to take the time to understand the common causes of stress in the workplace so they can provide employees with job stress management tools

Read on to learn the top 10 causes of workplace stress (and what you can do to combat it!).

1. Stringent deadlines

Having tight deadlines can cause incredible pressure on employees. It can make them feel overwhelmed and stressed as they try to stay on top of an excessive workload while trying to manage other work demands or expectations. 

How to address it: Look at the processes and expectations you have in place to ascertain if deadlines are reasonable. For example, how long does a worker take to complete an assignment? Are they given enough time or do they need further aid, support, and resources to do their job effectively? 

2. Working long hours

Many jobs require long hours, which could be detrimental to achieving a healthy work-life balance. Multiple studies suggest a correlation between long working hours and depression. In addition, demanding work schedules put extra mental and physical strain on employees, leading them towards employee burnout quickly if left unchecked.   

How to address it: Ensure enough downtime between shifts, so employees don’t become overworked and can make time for their personal life. Make managing stress and work-life balance a priority and a company-wide philosophy. 

3. Heavy workload

When given too much work without proper guidance or resources, it can leave employees feeling like they have no control over their job situation, resulting in increased stress levels due to a lack of autonomy.

How to address it: Consider restructuring workloads so each employee has manageable amounts of work at any given time. Offer additional training or support where needed to help prevent employee burnout.

4. New roles & responsibilities

Before taking on new roles or responsibilities within a company, employers should ensure staff is adequately trained and feel equipped and ready for the task. Proper guidance before anyone takes on new duties or roles can help reduce anxiety and other potential workplace stressors. 

How to address it: Provide adequate preparation before any new roles are assumed. This might include things such as offering structured training sessions or comprehensive onboarding. Then, employees can hit the ground running and have a better chance of success in their new role.

5. Ineffective or non-existent communication

Organizations must implement effective communication strategies — this applies to daily routines and messaging, as well as when making significant changes — to ensure everyone involved understands what’s happening and how they may be impacted. 

How to address it: Make sure teams have the tools to communicate quickly, effectively, and efficiently to improve employee engagement and prevent a potentially stressful situation. Use communication software and apps that make it simple for teams to stay in touch and up-to-date with news and information. 

6. Job insecurity

Job insecurity can be a significant source of emotional stress for employees, leaving them anxious about their prospects and placing an added burden on the existing worries related to job performance. Research shows people are overwhelmingly worried about their jobs — in fact, 43% of people surveyed in one study said they worry about job security. 

Tools like Talkspace mental health services offer employees peace of mind knowing someone is available 24/7 if things become overwhelming. This proactive approach helps alleviate stress levels while empowering individuals to get the help they may want and need rather than turning to unhealthy behaviors.

How to address it: Companies can provide stability through initiatives such as career development programs that keep individuals up-to-date on current industry trends so they can move up within their organization and feel valued in their roles. Offering mental health resources can help an employee reduce anxiety surrounding job insecurity, too.

7. Unsafe environments

Organizations must foster a safe environment that encourages open dialogue to address potential conflicts arising from miscommunications or misunderstandings. According to Talkspace research, 32% of people quit their job due tp a toxic work environment.

Creating an atmosphere where employees can openly express their concerns and grievances can help alleviate tensions among coworkers, enabling them to concentrate on tasks more efficiently.

How to address it: Providing resources such as counseling services through Talkspace can give employees a sense of calmness within stressful working conditions, knowing that someone is available 24/7 should things become overwhelming. This proactive approach can reduce stress levels and empower individuals.

8. Unclear policies and procedures

Managers and supervisors can intervene early on by implementing policies and procedures that give staff members a sense of ownership and power over their assigned projects. Having a clear understanding of expectations and protocols will help prevent frustrations from building up over time which could eventually lead to feelings of depression or helplessness if left unchecked. In addition, employees can be empowered to move forward with their objectives without hindrance, having the assurance of control over their work tasks.

How to address it: Make policies and procedures clear and consistent. Post policies and reference them often. Be consistent in the enforcement — resist the urge to play favorites or bend the rules for certain employees. 

9. Daunting commutes

Spending large chunks of the day commuting to and from the office wastes valuable energy. It adds an unnecessary burden to daily routines, often turning a simple trip into a dreaded event that can cause mental fatigue to take hold faster than usual. Encouraging employees to use public transportation whenever feasible, carpool, or use ride-sharing apps can simultaneously cut costs and reduce environmental impact.

How to address it: If feasible, offer employees a flex or work-from-home schedule. Also, set alternative start and quit times for those who need to be in the office to avoid commuter hours that tend to have more traffic and make commutes longer. 

10. Unfair pay

Being underpaid relative to skill level and position can be a demoralizing experience, draining motivation slowly until an employee eventually decides to quit altogether. Low pay is cited as the main reason for 57% of all workers leaving their jobs.

How to address it: This is where HR departments come into play, offering competitive salaries and benefits packages to attract and retain a talent pool while keeping morale high at all times, even despite economic fluctuations or market forces beyond their control.

Give your employees the tools to manage workplace stress

Equip personnel with resources to cope with the work environment’s strain. Stress can cause physical and mental health problems — anxiety disorders, depression, and emotional depletion are all commonly associated with work stress. It can also impact productivity by reducing motivation and focus.

Organizations should take proactive steps toward helping employees manage work-related stress and reinforcing that setting boundaries and helping them identify anxiety symptoms is also essential.

Access to therapy for employees is essential, and it’s easy to secure through online resources like Talkspace, which offer evidence-based solutions for managing workplace stress effectively. Treatment is well-received, too — an estimated 70% of employees say they’d be comfortable talking to a mental health professional. 

Get to the root of stress in the workplace 

Excessive workloads, unclear or ineffective communication, hostile environments, and more can lead to stress and anxiety in the workplace. Getting to the root of workplace stress ensures a healthy, productive work environment. 

Talkspace provides mental health services designed specifically for organizations that want to offer helpful resources to their employees. This allows people access anytime, anywhere while protecting their privacy simultaneously. By utilizing Talkspace, you can quickly achieve organizational objectives related to helping improve employee morale and productivity with minimal effort invested.

Take proactive steps to reduce workplace stress today by offering comprehensive mental health services for your employees. Invest in their well-being and empower them with the necessary resources to thrive. The reward you’ll get back will pay you in dividends. Take a big step towards preventing the effects of stress in the workplace by working with Talkspace today.


  1. Mazur, Caitlin. “40+ Worrisome Workplace Stress Statistics [2023]: Facts, Causes, and Trends.” Zippia 40+ Worrisome Workplace Stress Statistics 2023 Facts Causes And Trends Comments. Zippia, March 1, 2023. Accessed March 18, 2023.
  2. Zadow, Amy Jane, Maureen F Dollard, Christian Dormann, and Paul Landsbergis. “Predicting New Major Depression Symptoms from Long Working Hours, Psychosocial Safety Climate and Work Engagement: A Population-Based Cohort Study.” BMJ Open 11, no. 6 (2021). Accessed March 18, 2023.

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