Sources of Occupational Stress among Office Workers-A Focus Group Study

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Jan 19;19(3):1075. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19031075.


Workplace stress remains a major interest of occupational health research, usually based on theoretical models and quantitative large-scale studies. Office workers are especially exposed to stressors such as high workload and time pressure. The aim of this qualitative research was to follow a phenomenological approach to identify work stressors as they are perceived by office workers. Six focus groups with office workers of different occupations were conducted in Belgium and Slovenia. A total of 39 participants were included in the study. We used the RQDA software for data processing and analysis and the seven job-quality indices of the European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) to structure our findings. The results show that work intensity and social environment proved to be main stress categories, followed by skills and discretion, prospects, and working time quality. The physical environment and earnings were not covered in our results. We created organisational (structural/process-oriented and financial) stressors and office workers' physical health as two additional categories since these topics did not fit into the EWCS. While our findings mainly confirm data from existing occupational stress literature and emphasise the multi-level complexity of work stress experiences, this paper suggests that there are relevant stressors experienced by office workers beyond existing quantitative frameworks.

Keywords: focus groups; occupational stress; office workers; phenomenology; qualitative research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Occupational Health*
  • Occupational Stress* / epidemiology
  • Workload
  • Workplace