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Stress on the job – these are the things you need to be aware of

Stress! Who doesn’t know? Whether at home or at work – its consequences, such as mental illness, have increased dramatically in recent years [1]. Especially at work, there are many stressful factors that contribute to the dissatisfaction of employees [2]. The work performance decreases [3] and in the course of this some employees may even think about a dismissal [4]. Stress can be understood as an imbalance between the demands and the pressure on a person and the individual abilities [5] and coping possibilities [1]. But what exactly are workloads?

Stress and stressors

“Psychic stress is the totality of all detectable influences that come from outside to man and have a psychological effect on him” [6]. The reasons for the development of workload are sometimes quite varied: lack of social support, social and collegial conflicts, poor work organisation, poor working conditions or lack of perceived control [7] are among the most frequent stressors in the working world, as are time pressure, lack of recognition or too little room for manoeuvre [8,9]. Under- and overstrain, work interruptions [10,11,12], job insecurity [13], role conflicts and role ambiguity [14] can also trigger stress reactions.

Excessive work demands are one of many stress factors in the job that can lead to stress.

Stress and stress consequences

“Mental stress is the immediate (non-long-term) effect of mental stress in the individual (…) including individual coping strategies [6]. Employees experience stress when job requirements exceed individual performance [15]. To adapt to the respective demands [1,16] our body reacts either with attack or flight, with anger, fear or anger or with mental coping [17]. Similarly, the effect of stressors manifests itself in lack of concentration or fatigue, absenteeism, increased accident rates, counterproductive work behaviour or a reduced or lacking willingness to cooperate [5]. Reactions to prolonged stress result in increased tension, exhaustion and irritability or serious physical health problems such as cardiovascular or musculoskeletal disorders [15,18].

All these stresses and strains describe individual components, i.e. How stress affects individuals ultimately depends on how each of us deals with (job-related) stress factors [17]. Stress per se does not always have to be negative!

Evaluation of stress

As you can see, even if you experience stress, it doesn’t necessarily have to be bad. Pay attention professionally (and privately) to how you deal with stress and how you evaluate it. Can you manage a dangerous or threatening situation on your own in the long run by activating your resources and coping possibilities? Or do you need support?

Because only when you can demand something positive from a stressful situation and evaluate it positively does the chance increase to deal with such situations more calmly.

Tips for stress reduction

If you notice that you cannot cope alone in a stressful situation, get help: Ask your supervisor or your colleagues for their support! Often there are stressful factors that you cannot avoid at first (such as shift work, insufficient service plan design, demanding customers, etc.). In order to prevent you from feeling stressed in the long run, we give you the following tips:

  • Identify recurring stressors – if you know which factors trigger stress in you, you can evaluate them accordingly and counteract them with your individual resources.
  • Strengthen your resources through relaxation exercises (e.g. progressive muscle relaxation), mindfulness exercises (breathing exercises, yoga, …).
  • Make yourself a balance to your job – fill your free time with things that do you good, such as travelling with friends, sport, but also time only for yourself can help to strengthen your mental resilience (resilience).

Identifying stressors through CompanyMood

We will be happy to assist you in recording job-related charges. Use CompanyMood to assess mental hazards and identify stress factors in the workplace. Please also read our article on psychological risk assessment.


[1] Ducki, A. (2009). Theoretische Grundlagen. Stress- und Ressourcenmanagement. In C. Busch, S. Roscher, A. Ducki, & T. Kalytta (Hrsg.), Stressmanagement: für Teams in Service, Gewerbe und Produktion – ein ressourcenorientiertes Trainingsmanual (pp.15–26). Heidelberg: Springer Medizin-Verlag. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-02372-9

[2] Karasek, R. A. Jr. (1979). Job demands, job decision latitude, and mental strain: Implications for job redesign. Administrative Science Quarterly, 285–308. doi:10.2307/2392498

[3] Gilboa, S., Shirom, A., Fried, Y., & Cooper, C. (2008). A meta-analysis of work demand stressors and job performance: Examining main and moderating effects. Personnel Psychology, 61, 227–271. doi:10.1111/j.1744-6570.2008.00113.x

[4] Spector, P. E., & Jex, S. M. (1998). Development of four self-report measures of job stressors and strain: Interpersonal conflict at work scale, organizational constraints scale, quantitative workload inventory, and physical symptoms inventory. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 3, 356–367. doi:10.1037//1076-8998.3.4.356

[5] Leka, S., Cox, T., & Griffiths, A. (2003). Work organization & stress: Systematic problem approaches for employers, managers and trade union representatives. Abgerufen über

[6] Joiko, K., Schmauder, M., & Wolff G. (2010). Psychische Belastung und Beanspruchung im Berufsleben: Erkennen – Gestalten. [PDF-Version]. Abgerufen über

[7] Folkman, S., & Lazarus, R. S. (1980). An analysis of coping in a middle-aged community sample. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 21, 219–239.

[8] BKK Bundesverband (2005). Krankheitsentwicklungen–Blickpunkt: Psychische Gesundheit. BKK Gesundheitsreport. Alfeld: P. Dobler GmbH & Co KG.

[9] Semmer, N. K., Jacobshagen, N., Meier, L. L., Elfering, A., Beehr, T. A., Kälin, W., & Tschan, F. (2015). Illegitimate tasks as a source of work stress. Work & Stress, 29, 32–56. doi:10.1080/02678373.2014.1003996

[10] Rau, R., & Buyken, D. (2015). Der aktuelle Kenntnisstand über Erkrankungsrisiken durch psychische Arbeitsbelastungen: Ein systematisches Review über Metaanalysen und Reviews. Zeitschrift für Arbeits- und Organisationspsychologie A&O, 59, 113–129. doi:10.1026/0932-4089/a000186

[11] Semmer, N. K., & Mohr, G. (2001). Arbeit und Gesundheit: Konzepte und Ergebnisse der arbeitspsychologischen Streßforschung. Psychologische Rundschau, 52, 150–158. doi:10.1026//0033-3042.52.3.150

[12] Treier, M. (2015). Gefährdungsbeurteilung psychischer Belastungen.

[13] Sverke, M., Hellgren, J., & Näswall, K. (2002). No security: A meta-analysis and review of job insecurity and its consequences. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 7, 242–264. doi:10.1037/1076-8998.7.3.242

[14] Rizzo, J. R., House, R. J., & Lirtzman, S. I. (1970). Role conflict and ambiguity in complex organizations. Administrative Science Quarterly, 150–163. doi:10.2307/2391486

[15] Psychosoziale Risiken und Stress am Arbeitsplatz – Sicherheit und Gesundheitsschutz bei der Arbeit – EU-OSHA (2018). Abgerufen über

[16] Selye, H. (1956). The stress of life. New York USA: McGraw-Hill Book Company.

[17] Krauthahn, G. (2004). Psychologisches Grundwissen für die Polizei: ein Lehrbuch (pp. 85–91). Weinheim: Psychologie Verlags Union.

[18] Lampert, C. (2013). Hotel- und Barpsychologie.

Stephanie Wörz

Als Master-Psychologin mit dem Schwerpunkt der Arbeits- und Organisationspsychologie bin ich im Bereich Business Development tätig. Ich stehe meinen Kollegen bei der Entwicklung von CompanyMood mit psychologischem Fachwissen zur Seite.

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