A certain amount of stress in the workplace is necessary for maintaining focus and achieving deadlines. However, stepping over the fine line can result in poor performance and poor health, with stress related illness becoming the 'new backache'.
Surveys by The European Foundation show that work is becoming more intensive with half of the employees working at high speed for at least 25 per cent of their time. Many employees feel that work and the working environment has got out of control, with fewer breaks or choices of tasks.
Some employers have recognized the need for legitimate time out by introducing the concept of "Duvet Days" where an allocated amount of days can be used to recover from hangovers or whatever, without the need to pretend you have the flu'.
How else can stress in the work place be managed? What can organizations do to minimize the negative effects of stress without losing the benefits of a touch of adrenaline?
I believe one of the best ways of tackling workplace stress is to help people regain control of their lives. I work with people who feel they are stuck on the work treadmill - unable to get off and feeling condemned to work more and more in an effort to keep up.
What is needed is to move people from passive living and working (i.e. out of control) to active living and working. This is done on 2 steps. The first is psychological and looks at the attitudes and beliefs behind the behaviour. Without attitude change any behavioural or practical change will only be temporary. Next we look at the practical and behavioural changes that follow on including tackling those processes most easily lost in stressful situations e.g. decision making, planning ahead, objectivity and focus.
This approach has been highly successful and has a far broader base of appeal than family friendly policies or flexible working which are aimed mostly at women and those with childcare responsibilities.
I agree with the comment by Julie Hurst and would like to add that a similar way of looking at it all is to see it as a balancing act.
Life relies on balance and equiluibrium, we all need to regain the perspective which will allow us to grow and prosper. On the physical level the food we eat, what we eat, how we eat, when we eat. on the mental level what we think, how we think how much we think, how we rest how often we rest. On the emotional level, what we feel, how we feel, do we feel, how do we integrate our feelings how do we share and express our feelings. On the spiritual level the great questions of life, 'whats it all about' why am I going to work anyway? what is important to me ?etc...
Its all a matter of balance. I feel so much of stress is about excess and excess thinking could just be the core problem of all the illnesses which beset us nowadays. balance and harmony, is the way forward.
I also agree that stress stems from ones attitude towards a partiular problem. If you have an attitude of being in control and remaining focused on the task in hand then it is unlikely you will feel swamped and stressed by your workload.I think that the trick is being fairly methodical and seeing things through. Dont agree to tasks that you know you wont be able to complete, knowing you limitations allows you to maintain that feeling of control.