Sinking or swimming? : Dealing with stress at work
A recent CIPD study found that about a third of employees say they are under excessive pressure at work either every day or once or twice week. As the employer or the employee it is important that stress is handled; fast. The repercussions of ongoing stress can be vast and yet, with the majority of our time spent at work it seems unnecessary that work should be anything but an enjoyable experience. So if stress is ruling your workplace, how can you take back the reigns? Try these simple steps for a calmer work week.
What to do when work follows you home
How’s your home life looking? Does it look a little too much like you’re at work still? There should be a distinct difference between work ending and your evening starting, but for many the line gets blurred. For management especially, a heavy work load can make it difficult to switch off, but it is important that you do so. Try turning off your emails and setting an automatic response outside of work to indicate to people when they can expect to hear from you during work hours. This way you can manage their expectations and ensure if they do hear from you outside of work that they know this is the exception rather than the norm. Senior staff can aid this by choosing to not email other staff outside of work. This reduces the feeling of obligation for employees to respond to you and ensures there is a positive work/life message being passed from senior staff downwards.
What to do when work offers no peace
No doubt, if you’re experiencing work-related stress, then you’re also subject to the mysterious case of ever-increasing work load – an occurrence which results from the perception that you are available 24/7 and can complete tasks exceptionally at break neck speed. Unfortunately, none of us are superhuman and if we fail to leave our desks then we will always be on the receiving end of an unmanageable flow of tasks. The way to combat this is simply by counter acting the view that you are available for any work, at any time. Leave your desk at lunch and at any assigned breaks you have. This is good for you, fresh air, exercise and a change of scenery will refresh your mind, but also indicates to co-workers that there are designated points in the day when you won’t be there to accept more work. By limiting your availability to other staff you will find that many will do the work themselves rather than off handing it and the tasks you are approached with will become only those of relevance and importance.
What to do when you’ve got too much work
If as management you’re workload is becoming stressful or as an employee your manager is under estimating the amount of work they’re giving you, you’ll need a strategy for keeping the to-do list under control. Ultimately, quality will always triumph over quantity so prioritisation is key. Speak to your manager and gather from them which of your work tasks are of the greatest importance, this way you can put to the side the rest of your to-do list and work only on the most important things at any one time. Consider suggesting a weekly priorities meeting with your team and management. This way everyone will be aware if you’re sinking under your work load and you can manage expectations as to which tasks you will realistically complete that week. As management, take the time to address your staff individually and reduce or delay their tasks when they’ve got too much on.
Finally, trust your gut. If you’re role really is too stressful and you can’t see it improving then the grass may truly be greener elsewhere. For details on vacancies or advice on your next best move, feel free to contact Sanderson and see how a different role might suit you better.