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6 min read

The complete guide to managing work stress

Manage your work stress with our complete guide. Discover practical strategies to enhance productivity, boost well-being, and maintain balance.
From Team '23

Tempo Team

You’ve probably seen the negative impacts of work stress firsthand – damage to your health, relationships, and career. But there are ways to manage stress so it doesn’t negatively impact your professional projects or your personal life.

When stressful situations at work aren’t managed, project leaders and teams experience burnout, anxiety, lower-quality output, and an overall hostile work environment. This fallout can then affect the project, leading to poor outcomes.

However, not all stress is negative. Positive stress gives you the extra adrenaline to meet deadlines and accomplish goals. It also helps with motivation, mental alertness, and efficiency.

Negative stress, on the other hand, has many negative implications, including anxiety, decreased productivity, and worsening physical and mental health.

Effectively coping with work stressors fosters a productive workplace and promotes work-life balance. Read on to learn about work stress and how to manage it using project management tools alongside relaxation techniques like mindfulness. 

What is work stress?

Work stress occurs when employees’ job requirements exceed their resources or capabilities. This can significantly impact team members’ overall well-being and productivity, causing physical and mental issues such as illness, cognitive difficulties, and irritability.  

6 work stress symptoms

Work stress manifests in various ways, impacting physical, emotional, and mental well-being. If you recognize the signs before they escalate, you can take steps to manage your team’s stress. Here are six symptoms of work stress: 

  1. Irritability: When stressed, some people feel short-tempered or get frustrated easily. Irritability can strain interactions between coworkers, leading to a hostile work atmosphere.

  2. Aches and pains: Work stress can manifest as physical health issues like persistent headaches, muscle tension, and unexplained aches, as well as fatigue and digestion problems. 

  3. Reduced concentration: If your employees can’t focus on tasks, make decisions, or remember details, they might need to start taking breaks. Cognitive issues can directly result from stress. 

  4. Difficulty sleeping: Stressful work environments can also cause sleep issues, such as difficulty falling asleep, waking up frequently, or not feeling rested. Poor sleep can also exacerbate stress, creating a cycle of negative feelings. 

  5. Depression and anxiety: Chronic stress at work can contribute to mental health issues like persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or excessive worry. 

  6. Drop in work performance: Stress can negatively impact work quality and productivity. Your employees might need help finding the motivation to meet deadlines or produce high-quality work.  

Causes of workplace stress 

Various factors cause work stress in project teams. Recognizing them is the first step toward creating a healthier workplace. The causes of stress at work include the following:   

Micromanagement 

Closely monitoring team members may reduce their trust in leadership. Excessive oversight stifles workers’ creativity, leaving them feeling undervalued and trampled on. To avoid micromanaging your team, give employees the freedom to set their hours and workloads, trusting that they’ll finish their work on time.

Inadequate training

Many employees feel overwhelmed when they haven’t received adequate training to perform their roles. Employees who lack the necessary skills and knowledge to meet the company’s expectations may experience frustration and stress. Offset this by offering comprehensive training programs. 

Excessive workloads and overtime 

Burnout happens when employees are overworked, constantly juggling long hours and too many tasks. When employees are overburdened, they become less motivated, less efficient, and more stressed. Balance your team’s workloads by setting realistic deadlines and encouraging regular breaks. There’s no need to race to the finish line.

Lack of control  

Stress levels increase when employees feel powerless over their work and performance targets. To avoid this, foster a supportive workplace culture. Empower employees to voice their concerns and contribute to the company’s decision-making. 

Unsupportive work relationships 

Tension in the workplace raises stress. Conflict between colleagues or supervisors creates poor relationships and a toxic work atmosphere, making it harder for employees to effectively collaborate. Plan team-building activities to strengthen workplace relationships and reduce friction among team members.

Poor communication 

Work stress is often linked to poor communication from management, such as a lack of clear instructions to complete tasks. To avoid stressful misunderstandings and mistakes, practice effective communication with your team via regular check-ins and accessible communication channels, such as a public, threaded discussion board. Effective communication empowers team members and reduces the likelihood of unnecessary and costly errors. 

Job insecurity 

Worries about job stability and layoffs can overwhelm employees. To mitigate this stress and alleviate team members’ fears about losing their jobs, be transparent about the company’s performance and long-term goals. Regular professional development and training opportunities will go the extra mile to help employees feel secure.  

How to deal with stress at work: 6 tips  

As a project manager, stress management will yield happier employees and clients. Here are six practical tips to mitigate stress:

  1. Recognize the signs of stress: Watch your team for indicators of stress, like changes in behavior or increased absenteeism. Encourage staff to communicate with leadership and each other about their stressors so everyone feels more comfortable and supported. 

  2. Encourage well-being practices: Promote activities that support your team’s physical and mental health. These can include everything from mindfulness meditation to taking paid time off, going to the gym, eating healthy meals, and stepping out for breaks during the workday.  

  3. Be a working project manager and democratize project information: Get involved in the projects you’re managing. Ensure your team has all the information they need to collaborate during every step of the process, from brainstorming to project delivery. 

  4. Use tools to manage stress: Leverage project management tools like a prioritization matrix to organize tasks. This framework uses a two-by-two, four-quadrant grid to identify critical project tasks. Use workflow automation to automate tedious tasks and save employees from arduous and repetitive work.

  5. Plan ahead: Time management and organization are crucial for preventing work stress. Set realistic deadlines, prioritize tasks, and allocate time for unforeseen challenges. Planning ahead helps you distribute workloads evenly and avoid last-minute rushes that can cause significant stress.

  6. Maintain work-life balance: Encourage your team to establish clear boundaries between their work and personal lives, and do the same yourself. Set a positive example by disconnecting after work hours, getting enough sleep, and making time for your hobbies.

Is project management stressful?

Stress is inevitable for project managers and other leadership or management professionals. Fortunately, you are uniquely positioned to minimize and mitigate stress for yourself and your team. Although there’s no one-size-fits-all stress management approach for project teams, improving your team’s communication and collaboration skills will go a long way.  

Use Tempo to get the most out of your projects 

Streamline project management – and manage work stress – with Tempo’s suite of tools. Use Strategic Roadmapsd to make boardroom-ready project roadmaps that minimize uncertainty within your team. Or leverage Portfolio Manager to project risk and allocate resources efficiently, ensuring balanced workloads. Keep stakeholders updated and boost communication with Custom Charts for Jira, which maximizes project insights.