Workplace stress is extremely common and the sad truth is that it’s on the rise. Most professionals would admit to suffering from stress at busy times of the year, particularly when deadlines and targets come into play. Recent figures from Friends Life showed that last year alone, 5 million workers were affected by stress – and the reality is, it doesn’t have to be this way. Anna Pitts of the Graduate Recruitment Bureau explains what to do if you’re stressed, and more importantly what your employers can and should do to alleviate their employees of this burden.
1. Keep communication channels open
Stress can be intensified by a lack of communication or unclear instructions, and this is particularly the case for professionals who have the added pressure of deadlines, targets and client expectations. Ambiguity on tasks or lax detail surrounding important projects or deadlines only serves to heighten stress levels. You are entitled to a clear brief about each project and you should be supported by your team and employer throughout each venture.
Having an accessible and supportive manager will drastically decrease stress levels, and the reverse is also true. If you feel like there is a lack of communication or brief between you and your boss then ask if you can speak to them about it. Ask for the channel of communication to stay open as you need access to them to do your job properly.
Even little things such as not answering emails, failure to sign off on tasks outside of your control or even lazy instructions can all contribute to an unnecessary level of stress. The chances are your boss hasn’t realised they aren’t helping things as they are busy themselves, so a gentle nudge should improve the situation.
2. Don’t overload yourself
Another major contributor to workplace stress is work overload. You’re a person, not a machine and sometimes the powers that be can forget this. You may find that the to-do list keeps growing until it’s a terrifying length. This isn’t right. It is ok to turn down extra tasks if you physically have no time in the day to do them. Politely explain that while you would love to work on this extra assignment, you actually have your hands full with the other three that you are currently working on. Additionally, it is ok to ask for help from your colleagues and manager. There’s no shame in being too busy and your employers would rather you spoke up before you have to be signed off for stress.
3. It’s all about give and take
It is important that everyone on your team pulls their weight. If you’re a great worker, and everyone knows this, you can get roped in to doing more than your fair share. Having a good team around you takes a massive weight off your shoulders, so make sure that your colleagues are putting in the same amount of work and effort as you. If you seem to be the only one working and as a result are suffering from stress, then something needs to be done. Have a meeting with your line manager to raise the issues concerning you. Make sure you take some form of evidence along just in case, but the chances are they will know what a valuable asset to the company you are and respect your opinion and worries. There’s no harm in going above and beyond your job description, but make sure you aren’t doing everyone else’s job for them.
Clear communication is key in a working environment; a lack of this, combined with an excessive workload, unrealistic deadlines and unmotivated colleagues all send stress levels soaring. The good news is these can all be solved. Stress needn’t rule your life, and it shouldn’t. Make sure if you start to feel weighed down and depressed at work that you nip it in the bud as soon as possible. Your manager, colleagues and HR department are all there to support you. Solutions are available and, if utilised, stress will be a thing of the past.
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