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Strategies for Managing Workplace Stress

strategies for managing workplace stress
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Strategies for Managing Workplace Stress

In today’s fast-paced and demanding work environments, stress has become an unwelcome companion for many employees. The Australian HR Institute has conducted a survey detailing the principal stresses Australian employees face coming into 2024. The survey was conducted among 600+ senior HR professionals and decision-makers across Australia’s private, public, and not-for-profit organisations.

Causes of workplace stress include:

Cost of Living Pressures

Employees often experience stress when their income struggles to keep up with the increasing housing costs like the increasing rent prices and mortgage repayments, utilities, transportation, healthcare, and other essential expenses. Employees feel the financial strain, which leads to concerns about meeting basic needs, saving for the future, and handling unexpected expenses, creating a constant source of anxiety.

Poor WorkLife Balance

The boundary between work and personal life has become increasingly blurred with the presence of technology in our daily lives. Constant connectivity through emails, messages, and calls can make it challenging for employees to detach from work even during non-working hours. This lack of separation contributes to stress as individuals struggle to find time for relaxation, hobbies, and family.

Excessive Workloads

Employees often juggle multiple tasks and responsibilities, leading to burnout and heightened stress levels. Unrealistic expectations, tight deadlines, and constant pressure to deliver can create an environment where employees feel overwhelmed and unable to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Unattractive Work Roles

Jobs that involve monotonous and repetitive tasks without much variety can be perceived as unattractive. Lack of diversity in daily activities may lead to boredom, reduced motivation, and a sense of unfulfillment.

Assigning employees to roles that do not align with their skills, interests, or career aspirations can result in dissatisfaction. Individuals may find it challenging to stay engaged and motivated when the job does not align with their personal & professional goals.

Poor Management & Leadership

The role of management and leadership regarding employee well-being cannot be overstated. Poor communication, lack of support, and ineffective leadership styles can create a toxic work environment. When employees feel misunderstood or unsupported by their superiors, it can increase stress and decrease job satisfaction.

Insecure Work

In an era of economic uncertainty, job security plays a pivotal role in the mental well-being of employees. The fear of layoffs, restructuring, or job insecurity can lead to chronic stress. This constant anxiety about the stability of one’s position can impact performance, job satisfaction, and overall mental health.

So what can you do to manage the above?

Here are some individual strategies for managing workplace stress. You must find what works for you as an employee, as no one person is the same. We all have different personalities, life experiences, and tolerable stress levels.

6 Strategies for Managing Workplace Stress

Keep to a Strict Budget

You need a budget to deal with the current cost of living pressures. Create a family budget by identifying income and expenses going out. Put everything into an Excel spreadsheet and stick to the budget. Many don’t know how much money comes into the household and what they spend it on. It is simple to do, but you need to develop self-discipline to stick with the budget you have set.

Establish Boundaries & Self Care Practices

If you have a poor work-life balance, determine what is important to you first. Set clear boundaries between work and personal life and how much time you spend within each. Communicate with colleagues and supervisors about expectations for after-hours communications.

With the latest ‘right to disconnect‘ amendment to the Fair Work Act, 12 February 2024, know what your rights are as an employee should the boundary be crossed by your employer.

Prioritise self-care activities, including sufficient sleep, regular exercise and a balanced diet. Keep your general health in check with regular visits to the GP for blood pressure, etc.

Engage in hobbies and activities outside of work that give you joy and happiness. This will help you recharge and maintain a positive mindset.

Learn to Delegate & Learn Time Management

When you have excessive workloads, you are not inclined to say you need help. Take a step back and recognise if there are tasks you can delegate. Trust colleagues willing to help and collaborate to get on top of the workload.

Utilise time management techniques such as the Pomodoro Technique or the Eisenhower Matrix to enhance your productivity. Create to do lists and schedule breaks to maintain focus and prevent burnout.

Review your Career Development

If you have been working in a boring role, start to be proactive with your Career Development. Work out what motivates you at this point in your career journey. Approach your supervisor/manager and ask for tasks that will align with your personal and professional goals you have set for the next 6 to 12 months.

Take advantage of training and development opportunities to enhance your skills.

Open Communication

When you are working under poor leadership this can be very frustrating for an employee. Initiate open and honest communication with your manager or leader. Express your concerns, share your perspective, and provide specific examples of issues you’ve observed.

Keep a record of specific instances where poor management or leadership negatively impacted the team or the organization. Include dates, details, and any relevant information that can be useful if the need arises to escalate the issue.

Know When to Move On

If efforts to address poor management consistently prove unsuccessful, evaluate whether staying in the current role aligns with your long-term career goals and well-being. In some cases, exploring opportunities elsewhere or thinking about a complete change of direction may be necessary. This option may also help if you are stressed about insecure work and thinking about how to minimise your risk.

Remember that you spend a huge amount of lifetime at work. Being aware of the causes of stress, as well as having strategies for managing workplace stress, will allow you to make some sound decisions for your mental and physical well-being.