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A call to ban the word stress in the workplace

Jun 01 2012

Stress – it is a word that is so overused, both inside and outside the workplace. This is not to say it is not a serious issue but if we are to limit the negative impact associated with, and caused, by stress in the workplace we need to move away from focusing on it so much and think about pressure and resilience.

It is true the side effects of stress on individuals can be terrible, from both a mental and physical perspective. They are also terrible for businesses and can lead to mistakes, loss of productivity and high levels of sickness absence. But by focusing efforts soley on stress itself we have already decided it exists within our organisation and in fact we will probably end up fuelling it.

I worked with someone who suffered with stress on and off over 10 years. Her company sent her on a couple of stress management workshops, but generally they made her feel worse and just gave her another thing to worry about. She then attended a health and energy related workshop and it was here that she learnt about what the early warning signs of stress are. As a result she has been able to manage pressure at work more effectively and has developed more resilience to the pressure and challenges when they arise.

Let’s face it, pressure exists everywhere. In fact, as I have said in previous blog posts a little bit of pressure can actually be a good thing, helping motivate and engage people. It is how people deal with this pressure that will determine whether our businesses are successful or not.

So, rather than focus all of our attention on stress let’s focus on giving our people the tools they need to manage pressure effectively. By taking a more proactive approach to the health and wellbeing of our workforce and the initiatives we put in place, rather than simply reacting to problems, will enable us to create a much more resilient workforce.