Safe, secure but more stressed is how a recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald http://bit.ly/oH0HWj began on the subject of workplace stress.
So what do we know? We know that everyone has the potential to be stressed at work. We know that something acting as a stressor to one person, has no effect upon someone else. We know that different people react to stressors in different ways.
The irony is that today we work less hours and have more hours of leisure than ever before. We have access to greater levels of information, support and assistance than ever before, yet it appears more of us experience greater levels of stress than ever before.
Suicide prevention body R U O K? (Are You Okay?) released research showing that 40% of Australians at work experienced medium to high levels of stress.
Interestingly, while people in high powered roles often report high levels of stress, the most stressed people in the workplace are those near the bottom of the food chain. There is a saying that s**t flows downhill. Those at the bottom of the food chain often have less options, they take upon their shoulders the stress passed on by those higher and they have little control over how they get through the day. This implies those experiencing real stress are blue collar workers, women, casual and part time employees. This in turn makes it difficult for these people to develop and implement effective coping behaviours.
It is important people assess and identify those things that create stress for them. It may be something major or something small. Many people become stressed when late for a meeting or when they are interrupted when busy. Others become stressed when challenged about their behaviours.
Once you understand your own stress ‘triggers’ you can at least begin to anticipate a potentially stressful situation and put in place your own coping behaviours.
Managers, of course have a responsibility to avoid thrusting stress upon those that report to them or upon other staff. All it takes is a moment’s reflection, perhaps a short conversation and a lot of stressful situations can be avoided. Remember staff will not tell you when your actions create stress for them, they simply put up with it till they either explode or resign. As a manager you need to be on the look out for behavioural signs that may indicate someone experiencing stress and then be proactive at having a conversation with them.
How we cope with stress needed be complex. For example, if a particular person has the ability to get under your skin at work, you can anticipate when you will have to interact with that person and identify what you can do to minimise their impact. It could be a simple as moving out of hearing space when they are around or choosing not to respond to their comments unless asked a direct question. Afterwards you will feel better for having been proactive and looking after yourself.