As I read an article about stress and how the measures taken to alleviate stress hasn’t worked as the percentage of people getting stressed is still growing despite the increased focus on how to deal with stress and all the new initiatives taken as how to make your employees thrive at work; I had some thoughts…
- We try to fix the consequences of stress instead of fixing what causes the stress in the first place.
It took me far too long to acknowledge that I was stressed and even if I have been seeing a therapist for two years and, now that I am on sick leave, I am enrolled in a course on “how to return to work with stress”… none of it has helped me to alleviate or deal with my stress.
And it wasn’t until this morning I realised that it is in fact not my fault that I ended up with stress. I did make it clear to my Head of HR which work assignments I was not equipped to deal with and that I was feeling increasingly stressed because of these assignments, but nothing was done about this. Did I make myself clear enough?
Once a year it is customary to have a meeting between our Head of HR and the employees, and they talk about the employees work conditions, if there is anything that needs changing, if the employee has any wishes for the future etc. These meetings are held as to allow the Head of HR to assess if the employee is thriving and if there is a need to change anything? But if the Head of HR doesn’t listen – also listens to what is not being said, or if there is no confidence between the employee and the Head of HR, then these meetings are of no use.
It is the Head of HR’s responsebility to make sure that the employees do their job and that the conditions are the best possible to make the most of that work relationship – that everybody thrives. It is unlikely that an employee will be up front about being stressed, because being stressed is sadly still seen as a sign of weakness, of not being able to cope with the demands of the work place. Therefore it is important that we all look out for each other and if we see a colleague/boss, showing signs of stress; we go talk to them.
Once both employee and the Head of HR acknowledge that there is a problem they need to make a plan for how to solve it. And this means getting rid of whatever it is that made the employee stressed in the first place. Which assignments where too much? Which co-workers might have contributed to the stress? Was it a question of not being able to say “No”? Can we cut down on assignments? Do we need to change the schedule; less hours? Move to another department?
-If the employee merely has a 3 months sick leave and then returns to the same work conditions…well, he/she will end up in a repetitive cycle of “work-stress-work-stress” until the employee is unfit to work, in some cases ever again. And this is unproductive for the workplace, for society and the employee. It is therefore in the interest of all that we create the right work conditions for all – and acknowledging that we’re all different is important.
We can do an endless run of courses, read self-help books endlessly and listen to tons of advice, but if we do not change the conditions of the work relationship, then we have gained nothing at all and the employee will end up being stressed again.
I know that when I return to my work it will be with fewer lessons (I’m a teacher), but some of the extra assignments will not have changed and the goal is that I end up working the same hours/lessons as before and probably do the same extra assignments for which I am not formally equipped and do not have the time to properly educate myself for.
I know things have to change and going back to what made me stressed in the first place is not an option in my world!
I will look for another job and this time around I will set the conditions, because no job is worth my health! There is no pay check large enough to compensate for my health!
My family is the most important thing in my life and if I end up being so sick that I cannot take care of them, I will have failed them.
Also I will involuntarily have taught my daughter some really unsound values:
- That work is more important than family.
- That it is okay not to speak up.
- That you can’t change you mindset and your life.
We can surely all agree that the above mentioned statements are wrong and unsound, right?!
Then why do so many of us live by them?
What is more important to you?
- The people you love or the things you can buy for the time you trade off for a salary?