With 25% of all prescription drugs provided to patients used for psychotherapy; more than 11% of all occupational disease claims related to stress (and rising); and 42% of all absence citing stress as the major cause, workplace tensions have never been worse.
Pressure on business success, especially to meet the demands of stockholders, seems to translate itself all the way down the hierarchical chain to the many at the sharp end. Managers are shifting their pressures as quickly as they can, understandably. as their pressures are no less.
Characterized by symptoms such as:- irritability with others; fear; lack of hope and pessimism in general; lack of interest; lack of self-esteem, boredom; feelings of failure; frustration; anger, to name but a few, more employees are taking the time out today, for longer, than ever before, with paid absence as their support structure.
This stress, of course, goes all the way home at the end of the day, putting a greater strain on all the relationships at home, more than ever before.
In organizations, large and small, stress and consequent under performance and absence causes a significant impact both financially, running into billions of dollars a year and, especially with smaller businesses, threatening their very survival.
It’s very easy for employees to blame the organization of which they are a part, yet there has never been a better time to drag senior business management kicking and screaming to ensuring workplace practices change, for the better, for the future.
Indeed, making better use of employees is not only good business sense, but it ensures engagement, creativity, involvement and loyalty, reduced absenteeism as well as improved retention of more people for longer.
So what can the average employee do?
There are two main options that will make a difference and for each of them, the employee has the choice to make, whether they want to engage and change to organization or, a quite reasonable choice, to walk away and try something different.
If the first option is chosen, any employee has the potential to change the face of the workplace in their (and the organization’s) favor. This is no win-lose situation. Happy, engaged and enthusiastic employees are very much an asset to a business, driving sales, building great client relationships, contributing into the business, rather than sucking out their earnings and nothing more.
To make this sort of contribution, it’s time for employees to speak up constructively, replacing a complaining style with solution-based feedback with on every occasion. Once organizations recognise contributions as positive and value-creating, a stronger and more balanced two-way even, relationship will evolve.
For the second option, if an employee decides, after bashing the constructive feedback and ideas-based relationship to death, with little return, then it’s time to haul up the drawbridge and move on. In fact, taking a stance to make for a better workplace experience, rather than the stressful one they already have, can itself be even more stressful. Not exactly the result they would wish for at all.
In moving onto something new then, one of the biggest challenges is to ensure that the new role is one that will provide the positive experience they found so lacking in their last job. Truth is, many disaffected employees jump ship straight into another, similar role, with results that are, understandably, pretty much the same!
Balancing the need for reward with their personal needs for an enjoyable job, anyone can make better decisions when they are in the process of moving on. Taking into account that it’s far more pleasant when working in a role that plays to their individual strengths, this needs to be the first objective.
Closely followed by the workplace environment; energised co-workers; a lively and fun bunch of people, as well as a management culture which is developmental, encouraging, challenging and supportive. All in one!
Is this perfect vision possible? Well, it is. And, it does depend on you! You making decisions that can change your existing workplace around for the good of you and the others around you (works even better if a ‘team goal’!) – or ultimately, making a decision that will move you out of there and onto something much better.
Now that’s a stress-buster!