Workplace Issues – A Common Source of Stress

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People spend nearly one third of their adult lives at work, and workplace issues are a common source of stress for many. It is impossible to have a workplace where everyone’s roles, expectations, and personalities work perfectly together, without conflict. As such, certain workplace issues may cause negative psychological symptoms.

Research shows perceived stress onboard a commercial vessel or in the workplace, for example, is associated with a higher prevalence of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Workers may find discussing their workplace stress or challenges with a trained mental health professional is helpful to them both professionally and personally.


Common workplace issues that crew and other employees face include:

  • Interpersonal conflict
  • Communication problems
  • Gossip
  • Bullying
  • Harassment
  • Discrimination
  • Low motivation and job satisfaction
  • Performance issues
  • Poor job fit

The workplace is typically an environment in which people with different personalities, communication styles, and worldviews interact. These differences are one potential source of workplace issues and can ultimately lead to stress and tension for those involved. Although all employees have the right to be treated fairly and to feel safe in the workplace, some employees face bullying, harassment, and/or discrimination.

Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTIQA+) community, specifically, remain unprotected in the workplace by a national non-discrimination policy. Additionally, some employees may experience dissatisfaction with their work, struggle with their performance on the job, or have difficulty finding a job that fits their abilities and interests.

Workplace issues can lead to decreased performance and productivity, loss of job/termination, decreased satisfaction/happiness, stress, and a wide variety of mental health issues. Harassment in the workplace can also lead to legal troubles. The psychological associations note that job insecurity and lack of support at work can exacerbate workplace issues.


Some jobs involve a particularly high degree of stress. One theory, known as the job demand-control (JDC) model, posits that high degrees of work stress are prevalent in jobs with many demands and little control over working conditions. Some jobs known to be particularly stressful include vessel Master, firefighter, airline pilot, enlisted military personnel, police officer, and event coordinator.

Additionally, some jobs such as deckhands, health care worker, teacher, social worker, and administrative support worker have been associated with increased levels of depression. Elevated rates of substance abuse are prevalent among employees who work in mining, construction, and the food service industry.

Work-related stress is a significant problem, with an estimated 40% of workers describing their job as very or extremely stressful. In addition to mental health symptoms, work-related stress can cause physical health problems such as heart attacks, hypertension, pain, and insomnia.

Managing workplace issues can be difficult especially on commercial vessels that may be at sea for extended periods. Catch rates for commercial fishing vessels is also a high stress factor. For charter vessels passenger numbers can also present a major issue for owners and/or operators.


The decision to disclose a mental health condition to an employer can be a difficult one. Although there is legislation in place that prohibits employers from firing employees with mental health conditions as long as they can perform the functions of their job, employees who make a disclosure may still face negative consequences such as not getting promoted, being treated differently, or even being fired. For this reason, many employees may not feel safe disclosing their mental health condition.

While informing a supervisor about mental health issues can help an employee get additional support or necessary accommodations at work, there is also the potential for stigma and other negative effects. Ultimately, the decision to disclose is a personal one.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Our primary recommendation is to ensure you as an employer, vessel Master or workplace manager understand the workplace issues you are facing. Once you understand them you can then set about managing them in the right way.


If you discover that any of the workplace issues listed herein you need to take immediate action to mitigate them as much as possible. It is better to deal with them straight up rather than let them linger and hope they go away.

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