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What are stress and psychosocial risks?

Manager talking to employee
Worker supporting a colleague

Work-related stress is not an individual fault, but an organisational issue. It is one of the most important outcomes of a poor psychosocial work environment.

Psychosocial risks arise from poor work design, organisation and management, as well as a poor social context of work. They may result in negative psychological, physical and social outcomes.

Working conditions such as the following may lead to psychosocial risks:

  • excessive workloads or time constraints;
  • conflicting demands;
  • lack of clarity over the worker’s role;
  • ineffective communication;
  • badly managed organisational change.

An unhealthy social context is characterised by situations where there is/are

  • lack of support from management or colleagues;
  • poor interpersonal relationships;
  • harassment, aggression and violence;
  • difficulties in combining commitments at work and at home.

Psychosocial risks should not be confused with a healthy, stimulating but supportive work environment in which workers are highly motivated and encouraged to perform to the best of their ability.

Check out our infographics on the causes & perception of work-related stress and the cost of work-related stress to business and key warning signs

Learn more about work-related stress and managing psychosocial risks at work on the EU-OSHA website.