What if my job is adding to my stress?
Because we spend a significant part of each day at work, our work environment can have a significant impact on our emotional and mental health. A positive environment can enrich our lives and provide us with support in difficult times; a negative environment can cause or contribute to existing problems. Yet, because of the nature and demands of working in a fast paced and highly complex environment, it is likely that even the most positive environments are subject to periods of stress that can challenge employees.
Work stress can come from many different sources:
- a heavy workload
- lack of clarity in roles or responsibilities
- difficult relationships with colleagues
- conflict with your supervisor
- discontent with your career choice
- lack of balance between work and home
- a non-supportive environment
Some of these stressors may be mild or temporary and, therefore, endurable; others may be severe or long-lasting and present major challenges. When stressors are of the latter nature, we become concerned about their effects on emotional and mental health.
Because these organizational stressors interact with mental health problems in complicated ways, it isn’t possible to provide a single solution or a simple answer for addressing them. However, you might find the following suggestions helpful in your search for solutions:
- A first step is to clarify your concerns with your supervisor to see if they can help you arrive at a satisfactory solution.
- If you don’t believe your supervisor can help, or if you are reluctant to talk with your supervisor, it can be a good idea to talk with your unit-based or University HR representative.
- If you don’t think talking with either your supervisor or HR representative would be helpful, or if you are looking for guidance before talking with them, we strongly encourage you to talk in confidence with counselors at either FASAP or UMHS EAP. While they have no authority to make changes in your work environment, they can help clarify your concerns, identify and explore your options, and support you while you work at resolving the difficulties you are experiencing. They will provide coaching for difficult conversations, and in some cases, with your consent, talk with your supervisor or HR representative to try to help work things out. FASAP and UMHS EAP services are free and confidential; their records are not part of the Care Web system and are not accessible to individuals outside their own systems.
- If you are experiencing relationship difficulties with a co-worker or your supervisor, you can explore the option of mediation through Mediation Services for Faculty and Staff. Faculty members can also consult with the Faculty Ombuds for advice.