Occupational stress is a term used to describe the emotional strain caused by the inability of an employee to cope with expectations, workload, and other pressures in the workplace.

Simply put, it’s a form of work-related stress.

In the workplace, it manifests as employee demotivation, increased absenteeism, and reduced productivity. Moreover, some demotivated employees may request for multiple sick-offs, either for genuine illnesses or simply due to malingering.

So, apart from lost hours due to absenteeism, occupational stress also costs the company more by requiring it to pay for the medical expenses of the affected worker.

Experts have recognized occupational stress as one of the three conditions that psychologically drain the workforce of its will to work properly. The other two conditions, which are also closely related to occupational stress, are anxiety and depression.

Let’s have a closer look at the causes of occupational stress:

Toxic Work Environment and Occupational Stress

A myriad of factors causes occupational stress. Some of these factors are used as proof of occupational stress, while others are used as evidence to show that the employees have been subjected to work pressures beyond their coping ability.

The leading cause of occupational stress is a poor relationship between workers and their supervisors. Such a relationship leads to poor management of the workplace, taking its toll on the psychological health of the workers. This is one of the hallmarks of a toxic work environment.

Therefore, bad management is costly to the company, both in terms of employee good will and lost productivity.

Occupational stress is also caused by high expectations among workers who lack the skills and capacity to deliver the set goals. This also makes the workers have a sense of unfulfillment, which may make them anxious, or push them to depression.

Moreover, bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace also causes occupational stress.

woman at the desk under stress holding her head

How to Prove

The affected workers must prove that they have suffered psychiatric illnesses, which is considered as a form of a workplace injury. To do so, the workers must prove two things:

  1. They must show that the duty of care aspect was breached by their employer. This indicates that their employer exposed the workers to harm.
  2. The workers must prove that they were exposed to real risk of developing illnesses in their workplace environment, and their employer was unable to mitigate the risks, either intentionally or unintentionally.

This definitely links the occupational stress to the conditions of the workplace, and the workers can now seek legal redress.

If you need assistance with matters concerning the legal aspects of occupational stress, you will need to consult workers’ compensation lawyers, who specialize in occupational stress claims.