There is no such thing as workplace stress!
There are no stressful workplaces!
Right now you may be thinking “What the hell are you talking about Tony?”
Hear me out.
Stress is NOT a thing it's something we experience
Remember stress is not a tangible thing, it's a mind/body experience - a cocktail of physical, cognitive and emotional symptoms.
If stress was a thing, then all an organisation would need to do, in order to create a stress free workplace, would be to gather up all the stress in the building and deposit it in the nearest skip. Hey presto! No more stressful workplace.
No organisation can do this because, the reality is: workplaces are not full of stress.
What organisations are full of, is people who are experiencing some level of stress.
Why do we experience stress?
For most people stress is a 24/7 experience
We carry stress in our bodies. This means if we are experiencing stress, we carry it to work, we carry it home from work, and we carry it back to work again. For most people stress is a 24/7 experience, not just an experience confined to work or home.
There are no universal workplace stressors
There are no universal stressors i.e. there are no people, situations, or things that cause each and every one of us to experience stress when we are exposed to them. That's because each of us creates our own version of reality based on our unique interpretation of the data we've received from the environment.
Say for example on top of everything else we have to do, our boss gives us a joint project to complete by Friday. I may perceive this new assignment as a threat, because I believe I don't have the resources necessary to meet all the demands placed on me. My stress response will be activated and my stress level will increase. You may perceive the additional assignment as a welcome challenge and as a result experience excitement. The same situation - different reaction.
While there are no universal stressors, studies have identified a number of situations that, when present in the workplace, the majority of people perceive as threats to their physical and/or emotional well-being.
One such study performed by business psychology company Robertson Cooper, identified the following six key areas that have the potential to cause a high percentage of employees to experience stress:
- Resources and communication
- Control and autonomy
- Balanced workload
- Job security and change
- Work relationships
- Job conditions
For more information on each of these key areas click here.
Why should an organisation help its employees to control the level of stress they experience?
It's in an organisation's best interests to help its employees develop the skills necessary to control their stress because, the impact of stress on the health and vitality of the individual is directly and financially reflected in the health and vitality of the organisation. From an organisation’s point of view, by the time someone goes on stress leave or sick leave due to a stress related disease (e.g. repetitive colds and flu, migraine headaches, high blood pressure, asthma, insomnia, ulcers, heart disease, cancer) the condition has already produced significant cost in terms of impaired performance and reduced productivity, and it may have been that way for years.
What can an organisation do to help its employees control the level of stress they experience?
Because each of us creates and experiences stress in a unique way it's impossible for any employer to prevent its employees from experiencing stress. However, an organisation can invest in action to help each employee develop the life skills they need to enable them to reduce and control the level of stress they experience. I'll explore this is more detail next week.
Helping people to reduce stress and gain control over their stress level is my passion. If you'd like to explore how I can help you to become calmer, more productive and healthier, let's have a chat. Contact me now on 021 056 8389 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Wishing you a calm, productive week in your workplace.
Tony helps individuals to harness the power of their mind to achieve success and well-being in life, work and business. Tony's particular area of expertise is in helping people perform under pressure and gain freedom from worry, anxiety and stress. Tony’s solution focused approach to coaching uses a range of techniques drawn from the fields of co-active coaching, hypnosis, positive psychology and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP).
Contact Tony today to discuss how he can help you, or if you think Tony could help someone you know, you might like to encourage them to get in touch with him.