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10 Symptoms of Workplace Stress

It is no secret that stress and related disordersare the most frequent cause of employee disability(National Institute for Occupational Safety andHealth). As far back as 1992, a United Nationsreport called job stress a "world wide epidemic.

Control of workplace stress is a leadershipresponsibility. Good leaders who recognize thesymptoms of stress can control situations tocreate more desirable workplaces and to improveboth productivity and the bottom line.

Corporate leaders who have served in the militaryrecognize employee stress when they observesymptoms such as:

1 Anxiety

2 Indecisiveness

3 Irritability

4 Complaining

5 Forgetfulness

6 Loss of self confidence

7 Argumentativeness

8 Insomnia

9 Rapid emotional shifts

10 Physical exhaustion

Symptoms such as these cost companies billions ofdollars each year in health care costs,absenteeism, accidents, quality control, personnelturnover, and various interpersonal relationshipproblems.

Some managers mistakenly try to control stressfulproblems by increasing demands and supervisingdetails. Increased urgency and focus on detailstypically generates even more stress. The problemsshift from slight distractions, such as back pain,headaches, and inattention, to more drasticreactions such as absenteeism and medicalproblems, both good indicators that stress levelsneed attention.

Just as in the Army, most business leaders must betaught to manage stress and to observe fornegative stress reactions. All managers need tounderstand the importance of positive stress inmaximizing accuracy and productivity. And theyneed to know how to control the negative stressfor the benefit of those involved and the bottomline.

If you don't have qualified staff in your company,outside consultants and trainers can help youevaluate current stress levels and train everyoneinvolved. Remember, stress control is aleadership responsibility.

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Copyright 2005

You may edit this article for length or contentto fit your space and audience requirements andpublish electronically or in print free of charge. Include my full byline and add a hyperlinkfor web postings. When you publish, please senda courtesy link or email to

Dale Collie (, author, and former US Army Ranger,CEO,and professor at West Point. Selected by"Fast Company" as one of America's Fast 50innovative leaders. Author of "FrontlineLeadership: From War Room to Boardroom," and"Winning Under Fire: Turn Stress into Success theUS Army Way." (McGraw-Hill)

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