Friday, August 31, 2012

Managing Stress and Balancing Work Demands

It has been reported that disability claims related to mental illness (including claims for acute stress reaction, depression, adjustment disorders, anxiety and PTSD) in the federal public service continued to increase last year and accounted for 48 per cent of all claims filed.

Stress: Among an Employee's Worst Nightmares

Has your job ever drained you to the point of emotional and physical exhaustion? Does this feeling of weariness go on for days, weeks, or even months? If so, you could be stressing yourself beyond the breaking point.

Longer-term or chronic stress — indeed, any significant amount of work stress — can have debilitating physical and emotional outcomes, and can wreak havoc upon an unsuspecting employee. It has been shown that stress occurs not only among those who are highly motivated and committed but also among those who are not. We also know that employees, both in the private and public sectors, may experience stress in varying degrees.

Job demands can create or trigger mental health problems, including stress and anxiety. As such, it is important for employees to learn how to recognize and to guard against factors that cause these problems, or to make adjustments to working conditions and practices that may be causing them.

Is your work stressing you out? Should you tell your manager?

Is it in the interest of the manager, to whom you report, to help you, as an employee, deal with stress in the workplace? The answer is a definite "yes".

Chances are, if managers are paying attention, they already know there's something wrong. They can sense the difference in your behavior in meetings, and see it in the quality or precision of the work you're producing. A manager may ask what's wrong or try to find out informally, but some may not know what to say even when they recognize that you may need help. In that case, it may be up to you.

Still starting a conversation with your manager may not be all that easy but it is often the only avenue.

How do managers manage staff stress and balance work-life demands?

In a 24/7 "always on", "do more with less" world, it should not be surprising that employees increasingly alternate between feeling "lean and mean" or "exhausted and stressed out".

Three key questions need to be on managers' minds: 1) what are some of the signs that my organization is fuelling stress? 2) how can I identify stress in my staff? and, finally, 3) how can I deal with these stress and work-life balance issues both from the perspective of the organization and the individual?

"As with any other employee living with a disability, a manager has a role to play in assisting employees with mental health problems so that they can maximize their potential in a healthy work environment." Source: http://bit.ly/RtT5aA

Managers can take a number of steps to foster a healthy workplace culture. Key among these are demonstrating and encouraging understanding and appreciation of stress and other work-related mental health issues, putting into practice policies on stress and mental health in the workplace, making adjustments to work practices and conditions (e.g. ‘flex-time' and working from home), and providing resources to help manage stress at work improve mental health in general (e.g. training and counselling).

Y2CP: We're Here to Help

At Y2 Consulting Psychologists, our qualified psychologists and other mental health professionals would be pleased to help you improve your psychological well-being, no matter the problem you are facing.

Our fees for psychological services are tax exempt and qualify for partial or total insurance coverage.

Leaman Long, B.A., B.Ed.
HRM Consultant
Y2 Consulting Psychologists

If you have any questions and/or comments, don't hesitate. Thank you!

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