How To Deal With A Stressful Job

How To Deal With A Stressful Job

How To Deal With A Stressful Job

By Mark Wager

I've noticed a strange trend in the business world. It seems that when a company has an employee that is a high performer and is getting through a large amount of work, the only way the company knows how to reward them is by giving them more work. Usually more difficult and challenging work too. Yet across the office is most likely sitting a co-worker who is struggling and not performing so well and what typically happens to that individual is they have work taken away from them. 

In today's business world the better we are at work the more work we get given and the worse we are the less work we have. Businesses are fundamentally flawed in how they treat employees so 

its not surprising that a large number of people are highly stressed at work.

Each and every year employees are becoming more and more stressed at work. A workplace survey has been carried out by Business New Zealand and the Southern Cross Health Society. It's  the third such survey and the results clearly demonstrate the rise of stress and anxiety at work, with stress up by a net 22.9% across businesses. This is a worrying sign not only for employees but also for employers who by their very actions are making their most valuable resource, their people, stressed and even physically sick. They are damaging what drives their company, their people.

It's important to recognise that stress in itself is not a bad thing, in fact every top team I have ever worked with have a stressful environment but what they also have is a high level of belief, a belief in their own ability, the ability of those around them, belief in a shared set of values and belief in the leadership of the organisation. It's the lack of belief and not the stressful environment that causes people to become stressed. As part for my role I put together and facilitated employee satisfaction surveys for companies and in my experience the two most common causes of employee dissatisfaction and stress are when the employees don't see their personal values reflected in the actions of the company and when the employees don't feel valued and both of these are morale killers and cause great stress in the workplace. So what can the employees do about this.

Focus on what you can control 

This is easier said than done. It's natural to be impacted by your environment but it's not an excuse, you and nobody else controls how you feel regardless of the level of influence. There are many things about your work environment that you can't control. The decisions the company makes, the people you work with etc. Many of us spend more time with our work colleagues than we do with our own partners and we don't get to choose our work colleagues! Focus on what you can control and spend your time on those tasks. Anytime  spent on anything else is wasted time and will just lead to more stress.

Get rid of the assumptions 

A significant step to deal with any issue is to get rid of any assumptions and to gather together the facts. When we face anything that is unknown it's a natural reaction to augment a negative outcome, it's part of human nature and is why the human race has survived so long. Knowing the facts allows us to be better prepared for any situation but while this worked very well when we were in danger of being eaten by wild animals everyday, in today's world it doesn't serve us as well. If you are worried about something get the facts so at least you know whether it's worth worrying about. In my experience a lot of times people find out it isn't.

Don't confuse incompetence with bad intent

The number one reason why people leave their job is because of a poor relationship with their boss. I often get emails from people who are struggling with this issue. My boss doesn't like me, they are out to get rid of me, he or she doesn't value me, are some of the common things I hear. When I go into companies to deal with this type of issue it's incredibly rare that the boss is deliberately trying to be rude or trying to demotivate the employee. I would say that it's less than one in twenty times that I've seen this. In the vast majority of times it's the boss lacking leadership and people skills and they are most likely unaware of the impact they are having on the employee and probably the wider team. When the employee sees someone acting with bad intent the reality is that it's most likely the result of incompetence.

Check out your options 

Its better to stay at a job and try to work things through rather than seek employment elsewhere. Ask yourself what is the type of person that you want to be remembered as. Is it someone who quit when times got tough or someone who stood their ground and tried to make things better. Despite me saying that, if stress continues then you do need to make yourself aware of your options. Take time to consider how easy it would be to get employment elsewhere, at the salary and conditions that you want and would life be less stressful. We are far more than our job and it's easy to allow our career to define us but remember the purpose of work is so that we can live, we don't live so that we can work.

Unfortunately it seems that stress is a fixture in today's work environment but as I mentioned already it doesn't have to be a bad thing. Stress is not the issue it's how we deal with it that makes the difference. If you are unhappy the only solution is action. Sitting around moaning about it doesn't help. You need to take action. What is the problem? What  can you control? Is it incompetence or bad intent? Finally, what are your options? Focus on these tips and you will start seeing a difference in your life.

Posted: Monday 16 October 2017

Make an Enquiry

  Training Options


A range of 1-day leadership workshops available near you



Attend a high quality leadership workshop at your own premises 



Spend time with one of the world's top leadership experts