Acknowledging and addressing your workplace stress
If you’re feeling wound-up and overwhelmed as you’re reading this, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Symptoms of burnout are on the rise and if you’re to be effective at work, you need to know how to manage them.
The COVID pandemic has left a trail of destruction in its wake. Remote working processes which were hastily thrown together are coming apart as some companies fail to meet employees’ needs. A recent study by McKinsey finds a quarter of employees in our part of the globe are at the end of their tether, and that includes leaders.
According to Jo McFadden, General Manager at PEP, if you’re burned out it’s likely you’re feeling a lack of control at work and you might be experiencing a lack of inclusion.
"The companies we work with are increasingly clear about the need to empathise and support their people. In this job market, a failure to identify and address causes of stress among staff is a serious and expensive one. At PEP, we help people resume control and find their happy, productive place."
The problem with stress
If you’re in any doubt about whether you’re suffering burnout, AUT business school’s ongoing Wellbeing at Work survey has a checklist: emotional exhaustion, a lack of emotional control, indifference to work and trouble staying focused.
And with that load on your shoulders, you may not feel like talking about it either. In fact most people feel a huge amount of stigma attached to stress-induced anxiety at work. McKinsey says normalising stress is a key issue in the workplace.
Stressed people often fail to take breaks. They’re multi-tasking so much they’ve lost the ability to concentrate. High-achievers put more pressure on themselves than anyone can exert externally. And working under pressure for too long means the valves will blow at some point.
The World Health Organization says that "a negative working environment may lead to physical and mental health problems, harmful use of substances or alcohol, absenteeism and lost productivity."
The benefits of wellbeing
If you’re feeling better, it’s likely you’ll have a positive impact on those around you. Your sick or stress leave will reduce and the whole environment will feel different, more energised. Managing workplace stress in the office builds a positive workplace culture where you’re more likely to feel safe and valued. That means more time on the tools, enjoying the job and a greater likelihood you’ll stay on, rather than leave in a cloud of negativity.
It’s no fun feeling stressed, but half the challenge is in identifying it. Self-awareness means you can start to respond to the problem and identify what you can control. PEP programs support employees to pay attention to their emotions and take proactive steps to support their mental health and wellbeing.
The truth is, a lot about stress reduction is up to you and how you manage your thinking patterns. You can improve your self-talk and live a less anxious life. HR Digest has a list of positive affirmations for employees but advises you to be realistic. Don’t set yourself up to fail with some mantra you don’t believe in.
Emotional awareness and social connection are key to wellness, according to Jo, especially developing meaningful relationships.
"Building your emotional awareness by noticing how you feel day-to-day is an important skill to support mental wellbeing. We call it the “authentic check-in” and encourage teams to do it at least weekly. Whether it’s you with yourself or your leader in a meeting with the team, taking time to consider how you and others feel and how you want to be feeling is invaluable."
A PEP program also teaches good communication skills. Being able to tell your colleagues when you’re stressed and address your workload together makes a big difference. Forming team agreements on processes and things like managing interruptions really help. As does the ability to prioritise work that is clearly linked to company objectives.
"Ensuring you know the why, how and what of your business is grounding when you’re in a whirl. Having clear goals reduces mental overload and distraction," says Jo.
Remember you’re not the only one feeling overwhelmed at work right now and it’s OK to acknowledge your stress. PEP programs can help you take back control over your job and find the joy again.
Find out how PEP can help you harness the power of working well by getting in contact with us here.