Many of us like to maintain a positive work life balance with minimal levels of stress. So when I have a client who wants to discuss stress at work it’s important to first understand:
What is causing the stress and
Why they are finding it stressful.
When assessing occupational stress, it can be helpful to focus on two variables:
• Workload – Job demand that covers the amount of work, effort and challenges
• Control – The amount of freedom to prioritize or schedule work oneself
If somebody has a high workload and low control, they do not have a choice over their schedule of work or how they deliver it. They could be moving from over worked to under worked without the ability to regulate or manage what is happening. In other words, by not having control over their workload. When these two factors are combined, stress at work will normally be at its maximum.
Workplace managers can play a key role in raising or reducing levels of stress at work for employees. They are the ones who normally have control over what work takes place. It is therefore important to consider if the manager is supporting their team or if they are actually contributing to workplace stress.
Some of the key questions I consider when coaching a client around workplace stress are as follows:
• How is the work being allocated?
• How clear are the instructions?
• What other priorities are there now or next?
• What exactly is expected and by when?
• If there is a skill gap, what training is available?
• What resources are available to help get the work delivered?
Other factors to consider (as they also cause stress at work), could be the type of role an individual has. Are they a Police officer or frontline health care worker in the Emergency Department? or is the location or environment in which they work stress-inducing like a cramped office without natural lighting or circulation of air.
On the other hand, if my client has a high sense of control over their work, they will normally feel secure from the adverse consequences of stress at work.
If they are themselves a manager or somebody who is self-employed, they can certainly have an often-heavy workload that must be “self-managed”. However, as they are also relatively free to manage their priorities and schedules, they will generally feel more in control and less stressed.
Having the role of a manager is also not without stress. Managing a large team, making difficult decisions or being responsible for something not being delivered on time will all bring their own type of stress. So it is important to check how this stress is managed too and if any of it is being diverted onto the team?
We know all occupations will have some level of stress and it’s normally when we have demands on us, that exceed what we feel we can cope with. So when my client wants to talk about workplace stress, I generally try to establish the volume of workload (and the amount of control they have) to check if they are in a ‘subordinate’ role. Because having a limited sense of control over what is happening, will induce stress. Especially if they have to submit to orders, they do not always agree with.
Dealing with stress
Stress enables us to describe in a single word, the range of issues and difficulties we face when adapting to changes and challenges within our everyday life. Some people will have a natural ability to manage stress and many others gain support and assistance by employing the services of a professional life coach.
With the help of a life coach, they can learn to recognize what is causing their stress, acknowledge their stress triggers and how best to manage it.
Many strategies do exist to help all of us deal with stress and understand how we react to it, so we can learn to cope with what may initially appear insurmountable challenges.
Do not delay in seeking that little support today by calling Nuala at 087 2532675