Career advice, insights & tips for HR professionals
Feeling the pressure at work? 26/10/2012
All of us have experienced pressure and work-related stress at some time during our careers, and the majority will agree that stress is not conducive to a good and productive working environment.
Click to jump to section
Managing work-related stress
Executive support staff are often exposed to a high degree of stress in their jobs and it is important for both employees to know how to combat stress and reduce its effects, and for companies to work towards creating a less stressful working environment. A healthy working environment will help firms with both the retention of current staff, and the attraction of new hires.
It is estimated that in the past 30 years, the stress levels of people living a western lifestyle has risen by up to 45%. Stress in the work place is a significant health and safety issue and in many instances can affect performance and personal life.
While some argue that stress in the workplace is required to help employees perform tasks to an acceptable standard, ongoing and intense levels of stress can lead to reduced morale, lessened productivity and high levels of absenteeism.
In addition, staff turnover can increase due to the lack of support networks and programs in place to help employees decrease and prevent stress levels from rising. The cost of an empty seat is often more than what employers would have to pay to retain staff.
It is necessary to note that work-related stress is a genuine problem and is a significant health and safety issue. More often than not, there is a stigma attached to seeking help for various reasons. Being affected by work-related stress is not a sign of personal weakness.
Stress prevention & alleviation
Tools to prevent stress go hand-in-hand with the ones to alleviate stress. In order to prevent stress occurring, look at the key physical aspects of the work area. Is the work environment safe and comfortable? Are work hours including overtime, shift schedules and breaks observed strictly and encouraged?
On a personal level, do you often find yourself working on a project at work while also thinking about several other tasks you must complete before you leave for the day? ‘Living in the present’ is a concept that focuses on purely dealing with what is in front of you. Projecting yourself into the future and consuming yourself with impending tasks produces a lack of focus to the task at hand, which in turn reduces the speed and accuracy to which you complete your current task.
Here are a few tips to help alleviate stress and reduce its long-term effect on your health.
- Sleep – a minimum of seven to eight hours sleep every night is the key to recharging your body after each day
- Eat – well and eat regularly. A balanced diet at regular times throughout the day can affect the way your body deals with stress and allows your body to refuel after particularly busy periods
- Exercise – regularly. Exercise can help to combat negative physical symptoms associated with stress; it can help to improve your sleeping habits, decrease fatigue and generally reduce the body’s response to stress
- Relax – don’t wait for your holiday to relax; relaxation has been to shown to ease your body’s response to stress
- Improve – your work environment. If you are working in an environment that is causing you stress due to a lack of resources or ineffective management, you may need to consider your career options and find an environment where you can be more effective and content
- Communicate – with work colleagues and friends. Stress is often caused by people trying to take on too much responsibility without asking for help. Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance or discuss your workload, this is not a sign of weakness.
Creating a prosperous workplace
It is important that work-related stress is recognised as a significant issue by employers and employees alike. Putting the necessary steps in place to both proactively combat stress and prevent it intensifying should contribute to a healthy work life balance and, as a result, a prosperous and productive workplace.
Cheryl Ann Szetoh, manager of commerce finance division, Robert Walters Singapore
Cheryl Ann Szetoh, manager of commerce, finance division, Robert Walters Singapore