No self-respecting blog is complete without a Ten Top Tips list – and this is ours. Ten Top Tips for managing workplace stress.
1. Focus on the things you can change or influence
The only thing in life that you can directly control is yourself and your decisions. Focus your valuable energy on the things you can change. You might not be able to change the situation you are in, but you can change the way that you respond to it.
2. Learn to let go
We all hold onto things, whether it is possessions, bad habits, relationships or past mistakes. We revisit these things in our head again and again; we don’t need to. We can let go, allowing our feelings of frustration and regret to float away and acceptance and peace to take their place.
Continue reading Ten Top Tips For Managing Workplace Stress
Does WorkGuru provide a quick fix for workplace stress? No, sorry; but what we do provide is a psychologically robust, long-term change in the way that people respond to stressful situations.
I have yet to see a piece of wearable tech or a downloadable app that provides a meaningful approach to building emotional resilience. Resilience can only ever be achieved in a sustained way through increasing self-awareness, improving flexible thinking and learning active coping skills. If we want to respond to stress differently we need to break old thinking habits and create new ones – and that takes effort and time. WorkGuru provides the insight, the knowledge and the support needed to achieve meaningful behavioural change that will result in a lasting reduction in stress and a sustained increase in emotional resilience.
The stress industry is continuing to expand and continuing to make unrealistic promises. Academic research and clinical practice can tell us what works, but in the translation of that knowledge to the workplace it becomes watered down and ineffective. Take for example Mindfulness meditation – there is a huge and growing body of research to support Mindfulness. But Mindfulness is more than just meditation; it is a philosophy – a philosophy that is challenging. But the stress industry has interpreted the evidence to suggest that a 10 minutes guided meditation on its own will result in a long-term reduction in stress. It won’t – but if taught properly, it can be a useful relaxation tool.
I would love to tell you that we have invented a miracle cure to the epidemic of stress – I’m sorry but miracle cures are just not possible. What we have developed though is an engaging, web-based stress management intervention that uses proven psychological interventions, alongside one-to-one support from our coaches to help people learn the skills and techniques that they need to boost their resilience and manage workplace stress more effectively – skills that will last them a lifetime, not just a lunchtime.
Do you just love your job, or are you a workaholic?
Researchers from the University of Bergen have identified seven criteria to measure work addiction. If you reply ‘often’ or ‘always’ to at least four of these criteria, then there is some indication that you may be a workaholic:
1. You think of how you can free up more time to work.
2. You spend much more time working than initially intended.
3. You work in order to reduce feelings of guilt, anxiety, helplessness and/or depression.
4. You have been told by others to cut down on work without listening to them.
5. You become stressed if you are prohibited from working.
6. You deprioritise hobbies, leisure activities, and/or exercise because of work.
7. You work so much that it has negatively influenced your health.
There is a very strong element of compulsiveness, rigidity and excessiveness in the behaviour of workaholics. This isn’t just about enjoying your work and/or working long hours, or making sacrifices as you build your career or business. This is about compulsive behaviour that damages your relationships and your health. The same core symptoms your see in workaholism you see in drug addiction such as working to escape something, withdrawal symptoms, negative impact on other areas of your life, and problems with relapse.
Workaholism isn’t as yet a formal diagnosis so we don’t have a developed set of treatments to offer people, but the need is certainly there. Studies suggest the prevalence rate for workaholism is somewhere between 5% and 10%.
If, looking at this list, you can see that work is actively damaging you health and your relationships – then it really is time to do something about it. Visit your GP to ask about talking therapies, speak to a mental health professional or visit our website to see how we can help.
Cecilie Schou Andreassen et al (2014) The Prevalence of Workaholism: A Survey Study in a Nationally Representative Sample of Norweigan Employees. PLoS ONE, 9(8)
We here at WorkGuru love our academic research – we think it is really important that that our on-line resilience programme is not only based on years of our experience about what works to reduce individual stress and build workplace resilience but also reflects what academic research tells us works.
This is why we are hugely excited by a recently published guide on employee engagement for HR professionals. NHS Employers have launched a guide which draws on a synthesis of the academic research underpinning employee engagement and concludes that there is strong evidence linking what they call ‘positive psychological states’ and staff engagement – positive psychological states include things such as resilience and self-efficacy.
Resilient staff with high self- efficacy (the extent to which we believe in our own ability to complete tasks and reach goals) are more engaged staff, and there is of course lots of evidence for why having engaged staff is important for the success of your business.
The authors suggest that one way that HR professionals can raise engagement levels within their organisation is through offering resilience and mindfulness training. They write: “some relatively simple techniques, based on the principle of ‘positive psychology’, can help boost employees’ resilience, coping mechanisms, and awareness of self and others”.
All music to our ears. Yet more evidence that as well as the myriad of personal reasons why we should all be increasing our emotional resilience, there are also a myriad of organizational reasons why employers should be investing in resilience programmes for their staff – and of course our preference would be for investment in evidence-based, engaging programmes that are delivered on-line with individual direct messaging support from coaches, with the added bonus of on-line groups. Now where do we know an organization that offers all that? 😉
The German employment minister Andrea Nahles is considering new ‘anti-stress’ legislation, banning companies from contacting employees out of hours. It is already illegal in Germany for employees to contact staff during their holidays.
In France, a deal signed by employers’ federations and unions affecting 250,000 employees require employers to make sure that staff ‘disconnect’ outside of working hours.
But is a blanket ban the right approach for helping us to manage workplace stress?
One of the problems with turning to legislation to help us manage employee mental health is that we are promulgating the myth that the workplace is an innately negative environment that can cause us irreparable damage, and that we, mere helpless employees, need protection from exploitative and draconian bosses.
Yes there is an issue with workplace mental health; 22% of us describe our jobs as extremely or very stressful. Although the research supporting this figure is unclear about whether respondents are using the term ‘stress’ in a negative way (“my work is stressful and it is making me ill”) or whether they are saying it in a neutral way (“my work is stressful but I manage the demands that are made of me”) or in a positive way (“my work is stressful but I am invigorated and motivated by the challenges”).
Stress, the causes of stress and our responses to it are complicated. What causes me untold negative work stress might be perceived by you as a manageable and welcome part of your working day; and what to me might be a much loved part of my job might be a much dreaded element of your job.
We need to tackle workplace stress in four ways (all four elements need to be in place) by:
- Ensuring that protective policies are in place so that there is a clear understanding of our rights and our role within an organisation.
- Encouraging managers to be better at what they do and to lead by example so that they are working in ways that help them to maintain and build their resilience.
- Making sure that we all have the training and the knowledge to help us build our resilience and manage our mental health.
- Providing easily accessible, evidence-based support for people who are struggling.
Yes legislation is important in that it sets out a framework in which all employers must operate (think minimum wage or working time directives) but it mustn’t be so restrictive that it prevents us from making our own decisions about how we work and it mustn’t buy into this myth that restrictive practices must be put into place to protect a powerless workforce from unscrupulous bosses.