Results are in from the American Psychological Association’s Stress at Work survey. It’s not pretty. The worst part is how different stressors amplify one another. If you’re feeling high levels of stress at work, it’s probably time to make a change. Watch the video below or read the blog post that follows to learn more.
Results are in from the American Psychological Association’s Stress at Work study, and they are not pretty.
Work remains a consistently high source of stress for many, many people. 59% of Generation X, 71% of Millennials, and 69% of the Gen Z adults surveyed listed work as one of their top stressors. Not surprising. We spend over half of our waking lives at work, and there are multiple sources of potential stress: deadlines, challenging problems, difficult relationships.
What was more striking to me this time around was what I see as the compounding effect of work stress in relation to the other top stressors: money, the economy, and health.
Let’s look at how they relate. Work stress compounds health concerns in two ways. There are the effects of the stress itself – increased heart rate, high blood pressure, digestive issues. Then there are the choices most of us make when under stress: spending long hours at our desks, eating poorly, staying up late. When under pressure at work, it can be easy to fall into these traps. We forego regular exercise or even short stretch breaks. We reach for unhealthy fast food, sugary/salty snacks, or comfort foods. We stock up on caffeine. Sleep is evasive – because of the stress itself, and the long hours on screens, and, of course, the extra caffeine. All of that can take a big toll on our long-term health and well-being. Which then becomes another source of stress.
Money and the economy can have a compounding effect as well. Worries about economic stability might keep you from asking for the raise or promotion you deserve. You end up feeling trapped in an unfulfilling job, with nowhere to go. Even if you like your job, chances are you’re doing more work than ever without additional compensation. Ultimately, that’s stressful, as you question yourself and resent your employer.
And then there’s the stress of being stressed.
So much of the current conversation about stress right now is personal. It’s focused on individual solutions – better self-care, better diet, better habits. Those endless lists of tips and tricks make it feel like the stress is your fault. The subtext is that you could get out of it if only you tried hard enough. That creates added pressure.
The problem is that those person-based solutions don’t get to the heart of the issue.
I believe that the reasons so many people feel stressed out right now are organizational, not personal. Organizations simply aren’t doing enough to set priorities and align resources to them.
When the pandemic hit, people got to work. They rolled up their sleeves and took on extra challenges, got creative and put in endless hours to make things happen. That was great as an emergency measure. But it’s not sustainable.
It’s now time for a new conversation. It’s time to reprioritize. It’s time to right-size responsibilities, and align resources to them in a way that allows for a reasonable work-life balance for employees. It’s time to move out of the “emergency fire-drill” mentality and get back to playing the long game. That long game requires managing workloads to prevent burnout.
Some organizations have realized this and are rethinking priorities and roles so that actual humans can be successful in them. Others are not yet.
That doesn’t mean you have to continue to suffer while you wait for your company to come around. There are steps you can take to proactively manage your workload and to negotiate priorities with your leadership.
It begins with taking a look at your role, and identifying what could be moved, postponed or sequenced, based on the overall direction of the organization. Armed with that information, you can make a case for priorities and resources that will help you – and your company – be successful. These are tricky conversations, but when done well, can have a major impact on your work and on your life. Because they are such important conversations, it can be very helpful to have a coach or guide helping you prepare for them. This is one of the things I do with my clients. The result is that they have clear and achievable criteria for success.
Sometimes, unfortunately, there are companies that are simply unwilling to set priorities or budge on the scope of responsibilities to create reasonable roles. When that happens, I help my clients find new jobs, for companies that do value their people.
Either way, my clients get out of the cycle of unending and unrelenting stress.
If you’re ready to get out from under stress and instead feel successful and productive at work, schedule a call with my team today. We’ll talk with you about your situation to understand what your current stressors are. If that’s something we can help you with, we’ll let you know that. If not, we’ll point you to other resources. Either way, you will have taken an important first step in moving out of stress and worry and into a situation where you can shine. You can book that call at https://www.zmcoach.com/apply. We look forward to hearing from you.