Lack of Autonomy at Work Linked to Workplace Stress, Cardiovascular Problems


Aug 28, 2019


In her essay on millennial burnout for Buzzfeed, Anne Helen Petersen wrote, “Why can’t I get this mundane stuff done? Because I’m burned out. Why am I burned out? Because I’ve internalized the idea that I should be working all the time.”

Workplace stress or job burnout is the physical or emotional exhaustion caused by conditions in the workplace. This type of stress also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.

Base causes of workplace stress include no control over your work, discomfort with the type of employment, dysfunctional workplace dynamics, social isolation or bullying, too much monotony or chaos and work-life imbalance. For millennials, rising prices, college debt and low salaries can create the need to take on extra jobs, which leads to poor work-life balance. Constant connectivity to work via portable devices is also a reason for poor work-life balance. Plus, people who work freelance, or take up multiple jobs or ‘gigs’ at a time, do so without employment benefits like paid sick leave, which can also be a cause of stress.

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We Judge Other People for Being Stressed Out

According to various surveys compiled by the American Institute of Stress, 42% of respondents claimed yelling and other verbal abuse was common at the workplace, 29% had yelled at coworkers because of workplace stress and 10% said that physical violence had occurred in the group they worked at due to a highly stressful atmosphere. While the same people likely to respond to a stress institute survey are perhaps also likely to be stressed, the ill effects of said stress noted in these surveys are alarming.

Better communication and a clear job profile that matches the employee’s competence are pivotal ways an employer can contribute to reducing workplace stress. Research states that giving workers some latitude to make decisions reduces absenteeism greatly and increases the level of performance at work, while no freedom to make decisions is a risk factor for cardiovascular problems. Another study states that manager behavior has a significant impact on employee health outcomes.

As for individual management of stress, according to the American Psychological Association, tracking the situations that cause the most stress, developing healthy responses to stressful situations, establishing firm work-life boundaries, taking time off to recharge and relax, communication with friends and loved ones, and active dialogue with one’s supervisor can help manage workplace stress.


Written By Aditi Murti

Aditi Murti is a culture writer at The Swaddle. Previously, she worked as a freelance journalist focused on gender and cities. Find her on social media @aditimurti.


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