Stress is a rather vague term. We’ve all heard it, and use it in many different ways. Stress can be physical (for example, running puts stress on knee joints), and it can be emotional. At work, we may experience 10 major kinds of stress. Having a little bit of stress can be motivating, but too much can impact our health and jobs. Knowing the cause allows us to take steps toward minimizing “bad stress.”

These are the top 10 types of workplace stress:


#10 Competence Perception

If you’ve ever felt unprepared for a role or task, you may have felt some stress. Competence Perception is simply the feeling that you may not have the knowledge, skill, or preparation to be effective. This may occur if you’re just starting a new job or position, taking on an unfamiliar project, or even if you’re not getting any feedback for your work. You may question your abilities if you don’t receive feedback, which can create anxiety.


#9 Role Clarity

Stress can also occur if you’re unsure of your responsibilities in your role, or unsure of how you’re performing in your role. This is stressor is likely to be prevalent in individuals who “wear many hats” in their organization, or have a high level of workload that is difficult to prioritize. It can be difficult to get things done for the organization if you’re not sure what you need to do.


#8 Culture Alignment

Every organization has a culture. If there’s a conflict between your personal values and what you’re expected to do, you might feel this type of stress. For example, if your organization’s culture is that of fast, responsive service, while you’d prefer to take your time and provide the highest quality of service at a slower pace, you’ll feel misaligned.


#7 Alignment of Expectation

Receiving conflicting requests is one way to create a misalignment of expectations. For example, if your boss expects a task to be completed to a certain standard, but sets an unrealistic deadline, you will probably feel some stress.


#6 Workload Level

Workload Level stress can be easy to identify. If you have too much on your plate to do everything and do it well, you will feel this kind of stress. The task list never gets any smaller; in fact, it may grow with each completion.

The impact will vary depending on the individual. Some may try to work harder and faster, leaving quality to decrease. Others may not be able to get certain things done in order to maintain some form of quality or process, missing deadlines.


#5 Resource Availability

It can be stressful trying to get tasks completed when you’re missing something essential to completing the task. If Resource Availability is a source of stress, it can be about a lack of equipment, or even a lack of information available. High stress in resource availability may indicate a communication issue, or might simply be tight budget times for the organization.


#4 Work-Life Balance

Just like it sounds, our Work-Life Balance can be a source of stress. Everyone has a balance that works best for them, and it’s important that we get enough of both in our lives to feel comfortable. If one interferes with the other, it causes you to feel stress. When addressing your work-life balance stress, it’s important to determine whether it is caused by work or caused by your home life.


# 3 Role Potential

Most people crave growth. If you don’t see future potential for yourself in your role or organization, you may begin to feel stagnant, bored, and frustrated.  High stress due to a lack of role potential can cause individuals to lose interest in their work, decreasing the quality or output. This stress may also motivate individuals to begin looking for new opportunities, whether they are within the organization or outside.


#2 Team Support

Stress caused by a lack of team support can make individuals feel isolated. Individuals with this kind of stress may feel like they’re being left out of decisions, or that they can’t ask for help. It may even feel as if the company is moving along without them. Poor communication, or a complete lack thereof, is often one of the causes.


#1 Role Shift

High stress due to role shift comes from not feeling fully utilized. Either your responsibilities were decreased, or you simply have much more you can offer than what you’re currently doing. Similar to Role Potential stress, individuals who experience Role Shift stress may feel bored and stagnant. Their talents exceed their current responsibilities, and they want to do more for the company.


Each of the 10 stressors can impact each other as well. Typically, there is a top “trigger” that acts as the lead domino for other types of stress. Measure your stress to find out your trigger stressor. By focusing on reducing that source of stress, the other stressors will likely decrease as well.

High stress, especially in multiple dimensions, is not healthy. Not only will it impact the individual’s work and organization, but it will affect their health as well. Knowing the source of stress and minimizing its impact will lead to healthier, high performance people and organizations.