Issues: workplace

People spend nearly one third of their adult lives at work, and workplace issues are a common source of stress for many. It is impossible to have a workplace where everyone’s roles, expectations, and personalities work perfectly together, without conflict. As such, certain workplace issues may cause negative psychological symptoms. Research shows perceived stress in the workplace, for example, is associated with a higher prevalence of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Workers may find discussing their workplace stress or challenges with a trained mental health professional is helpful to them both professionally and personally.

COMMON WORKPLACE ISSUES

Common workplace issues that employees face include:

  • Interpersonal conflict
  • Communication problems
  • Gossip
  • Bullying
  • Harassment
  • Discrimination
  • Low motivation and job satisfaction
  • Performance issues
  • Poor job fit

The workplace is typically an environment in which people with different personalities, communication styles, and worldviews interact. These differences are one potential source of workplace issues and can ultimately lead to stress and tension for those involved. Although all employees have the right to be treated fairly and to feel safe in the workplace, some employees face bullying, harassment, and/or discrimination.

Members of the LGBT community, specifically, remain unprotected in the workplace by a national non-discrimination policy. Additionally, some employees may experience dissatisfaction with their work, struggle with their performance on the job, or have difficulty finding a job that fits their abilities and interests.

Workplace issues can lead to decreased performance and productivity, loss of job/termination, decreased satisfaction/happiness, stress, and a wide variety of mental health issues. Harassment in the workplace can also lead to legal troubles. The American Psychological Association notes job insecurity and lack of support at work can exacerbate workplace issues.

HIGH STRESS JOBS

Some jobs involve a particularly high degree of stress. One theory, known as the job demand-control (JDC) model, posits that high degrees of work stress are prevalent in jobs with many demands and little control over working conditions. Some jobs known to be particularly stressful include firefighter, airline pilot, enlisted military personnel, police officer, and event coordinator. Additionally, some jobs such as health care worker, teacher, social worker, and administrative support worker have been associated with increased levels of depression. Elevated rates of substance abuse are prevalent among employees who work in mining, construction, and the food service industry.

Work-related stress is a significant problem, with an estimated 40% of workers describing their job as very or extremely stressful. In addition to mental health symptoms, work-related stress can cause physical health problems such as heart attacks, hypertension, pain, and insomnia.

HOW PSYCHOTHERAPY CAN HELP WITH WORKPLACE ISSUES

There are various ways in which therapy may be useful to help resolve workplace issues. Therapy can effectively treat depression, anxiety, and other mental health symptoms that result from workplace issues. Therapists can also teach healthy coping skills that employees may use to manage work-related stress and other issues. 

For example, cognitive behavioural therapy helps people identify and change unhealthy thoughts, which often results in improved mood and overall well-being. Mindfulness, meditation, and other stress management techniques can be taught in psychotherapy. Therapy can also be useful for improving an individual’s assertive communication skills, as well as other conflict resolution skills. These skills can then be applied in the workplace to improve one’s experience at work.

Some employers offer counselling to their employees at no cost through employee assistance programs (EAPs). These counselling sessions provide an opportunity for employees to discuss any issues that may be affecting their work performance with trained professionals.

Many thanks to the good people at www.goodtherapy.org who kindly gave permission for their excellent analyses of psychological and therapeutic issues to be reproduced here.

REFERENCES AND FURTHER READING

  1. Bush, D. M., & Lipari, R. N.(2015). Substance use and substance use disorder by industry. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved from http://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/report_1959/ShortReport-1959.html
  2. Hash, K. M., & Ceperich, S. D. (2006). Workplace issues. In D.F. Morrow, & L. Messinger (Eds.), Sexual orientation and gender expression in social work practice: Working with gay, lesbian, bisexual, & transgender people. New York: Columbia University Press.
  3. Rubino, C., Perry, S. J., Milam, A. C., Spitzmueller, C., & Zapf, D. (2012). Demand-control-person: Integrating the demand-control and conversation of resources models to test an expanded stressor-strain model. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 17(4), 456-472. doi: 10.1037/a0029718
  4. Szeto, A. C., & Dobson, K. S. (2013). Mental disorders and their association with perceived work stress: An investigation of the 2010 Canadian community health survey. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 18(2), 191-197. doi: 10.1037/a0031806
  5. The most stressful jobs of 2015. (n.d.). CareerCast.com. Retrieved from http://www.careercast.com/jobs-rated/most-stressful-jobs-2015
  6. Tugend, A. (2014, November 14). Deciding whether to disclose mental disorders to the boss. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/15/your-money/disclosing-mental-disorders-at-work.html?_r=0
  7. Weir, K. (2013). Work, stress and health. Monitor on Psychology, 44(8), 40. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/09/stress-health.aspx
  8. Workplace stress. (n.d.). The American Institute of Stress. Retrieved from http://www.stress.org/workplace-stress
  9. Worth, T. (2016, September 28). Ten careers with high rates of depression. Health.com. Retrieved from http://www.health.com/health/gallery/thumbnails/0,,20428990,00.html