Stress seems like an inevitable part of modern working life – I look around my workplace and I see nothing but stressed-out workers! They are dealing with stress at work, they are coping, but they are not happy. The really unlucky ones are not even coping. Something is not right with this picture. Constant stress is not, and should not be, a normal state.
Believe it or not though, there are a few rare and happy souls who seem to float effortlessly through, winning all the time – how do they do it?
There is so much to cover on this topic, that this is just part one of a series. Don’t worry, we are going to look into this in much more depth, but for now, here are 10 key areas for you to consider. If you are stressed-out at work, have a think about these things. If you can get to the root of your stress, you can start to tackle it.
1. Are you stressed because you are in the wrong job or career? Do you basically like what you do? Does it play to your skills and values? Is there a total mismatch between what you like and enjoy doing and the activities your job involves?
2. Boredom. Are you stressed because you are just plain old bored? Is there any challenge or stretch in what you do? Do you grow, develop and learn new skills, or is your job stuck in a rut?
3. Remuneration. Do you love your work, your colleagues, and your firm, but you just aren’t paid enough for what you do? Are your terms and conditions rubbish? Do you skip into work, but feel resentful, and find yourself saying things like “and all that for X an hour”?
4. Culture. Is it a case of right job, but wrong workplace or company? Do you like your firm? Are they good to you? Is it a positive, happy workplace? It is a hostile and awkward environment to be in? Is everyone else around you happy and smiling, or is morale generally on the floor?
5. Commute/convenience. Do you love everything except the location and hours of your work? Do you have a life that work is inconvenient to? Does your work give exceptional support to your life, but you hate some other aspect of it? Is your commute just sheer hell?
6. Prospects. Do you love everything about your work…now. But you are really, really worried about changes that are happening or you think are going to happen. Is your work happy, but going nowhere? Do you think “ I don’t want to be doing this forever”?
7. Struggle. Are you just over-whelmed? There is just too much to do, and no one to help? Do you feel you are personally well organized, or are you always battling to find information, finish tasks in a timely fashion, focus on a task or generally achieve.
8. Schedule. You feel you are always running from meeting to meeting, email to email, receive so many queries you cannot finish one before the next, or are generally so over-whelmed with activity you feel you are getting no where. Too many deadlines?
9. People. You are stressed because one or several colleagues who are important to your role are either not doing what they should, preventing you from achieving, hate you, are in severe conflict with you. Are there people who need to be there, but no one will fill those posts? Too many new people who are not up to speed?
10. Inconsistency. Are the goalposts constantly shifting on you? Do you feel baffled and frustrated about what is expected of you? Are you forever doing work and then having to re-do it, or find it was to no effect, because priorities have been changed on you yet again?
Which of these workplace stress points is your biggest problem? Reading this list do you relate to multiples of these? If so, I have been there, and I feel your pain. Go through the list and put them in order with the thing that causes you the biggest pain at the top, and the thing which is least problematic, or good at the bottom.
Then flip it – I actually encourage everyone who is dealing with stress at work to do this anyway – there is hopefully something you do enjoy about your work. Put a mark from 1 – 10 against each item, (with 1 being awful and 10 being brilliant) and rank them the other way – from the best thing, to the worst thing. How does everything stack up overall?
In the next article – we look at item 1, career mismatch in more detail.
Love to hear your thoughts – please post or comment below – which item on my list is causing your main stress at work?