We have labeled workplace stress as “normal” because these sources of problems are so widespread as to be virtually universal, at least in the human services.
- DOWNSIZING: Research on downsizing has shown an array of negative results and minimal positive results for organizations, confirming a decline in job satisfaction and organizational commitment among those who survive the layoff.
- WORKLOAD AND JOB COMPLEXITY: Another major contributor to stress-related problems is workload: both too heavy and too light a workload can be stressful. However, in the case of the social service system, conditions leading to too light a workload are presently difficult to imagine.
- ROLE OVERLOAD: Determined by how many different roles a person has to fulfill, role overload becomes stressful because it creates uncertainty, ambiguity, and conflict about an individual’s ability to perform. In social service settings, it is at the level of the frontline staff that problems with role overload, role ambiguity and conflict, and the burden of role responsibility is most likely to surface.
- INTERPERSONAL CONFLICT: Interpersonal conflict is a serious source of job stress and has been demonstrated to interfere with job performance.
- INADEQUATE TRAINING AND CAREER DEVELOPMENT: The slow translation of science into practice is particularly striking in areas of evidence-based practice, an understanding of the widespread exposure to adversity in childhood and what it means for evaluation and treatment; attachment-based research; addictions; and recovery. A large body of knowledge about the impact of traumatic experience on a wide variety of psychological, physical, and social problems has been researched and is by now well-established and yet there is still relatively little application of this science to standard practice.
- REGULATION, PAPERWORK, COMPLIANCE: Increases in paperwork were among the five most significant toxic changes noted by social work practitioners across all behavioral health settings 
- ETHICAL CONFLICTS: Ethical conflicts are one of the most underestimated, but chronically unrelenting sources of stress in today’s human service delivery environment. The literature clearly demonstrates that the combination of uncertainty and the likelihood of change, both favorable and unfavorable change, produces stress and, ultimately, affects perceptions and judgments, interpersonal relationships, and the dynamics of the work itself
Excerpt from Bloom, S. L. and Farragher, B. (2010) Destroying Sanctuary: The Crisis in Human Service Delivery Systems. New York: Oxford University Press.