Managing stress levels at work
Many of us like to maintain a positive outlook that includes a balance between work and homelife, because it will normally help to reduce any feelings of stress. However, if you have a client who wants to talk about ways of managing stress levels at work, it’s important to first understand what is causing their stress and why they are finding work so stressful.
When assessing occupational stress, it can be helpful to focus on two variables:
- Workload – Job demand that covers the amount of work, effort and difficulty
- Control – The amount of freedom to prioritize or schedule work
If somebody describes their role at work as having low control over a high workload, they will normally find that they will not have a choice over their schedule or how they deliver it. They could also find themselves quickly moving from feeling overworked to suddenly being underworked without the ability to regulate or manage what is happening. When these two factors are combined, they will feel their stress levels at work will normally be at their very maximum.
But all occupations have some level of stress and it will normally be more visible when we have competing demands on us that exceed what we feel we can cope with. So if your client wants to talk about stress levels at work, check their workload and how much control they have to first see if they are in a ‘subordinate’ role. Because having a limited sense of control over what is happening will cause stress. Especially if they have to submit to orders, they do not always agree with.
In this type of situation, the line manager can also play a key role in raising or reducing stress levels at work, because they are the ones who will normally have control over what work takes place and when. So it can be important to talk to your client about this to see if they feel their manager is supporting them and the wider team and if they are helping to generate or reduce stress levels at work.
However, being a manager is also not without stress. Because managing a large team, making difficult decisions or being responsible for something not being delivered on time will all bring their own type of stress. So it is important to check how your client was managing their own stress levels at work and if any of this stress is being pushed down onto the team.
And remember to check what type of role they have, for example, are they frontline workers, health professionals or a police officer, and do they work within a stressful environment like an A&E department, oil rig or mine?
Key questions to ask when exploring stress levels at work:
- How is the work being allocated?
- How clear are the instructions?
- What other priorities are there now or next?
- What exactly is expected and by when?
- If there is a skill gap, what training is available?
- What resources are available to help get the work delivered?
Stress enables us to describe in a single word, the range of issues and difficulties we face when adapting to changes and challenges within our everyday life. Some people will have a natural ability to manage stress and others may look for help from a professional coach.
With help, they can learn through experience or training to recognize what causes stress and how best to manage it. But many strategies do exist to help all of us deal with stress and understand how we react to it, so we can learn to cope with the modern world.
And as a professional coach we have access to a range of different tools that help us review and plan what we would personally do to address or adapt to different situations. However, picking the right tool for our clients is key to being a successful coach and can show them how managing stress levels at work can help them face difficult situations.
So if you are working with anybody currently feeling overwhelmed by life or the global pandemic, or feels as if nothing is going their way, consider reviewing their stress levels or their natural ability to think in a positive way. Or set up a dedicated session to work through some key questions to explore stress levels as it can help them quickly identify the things that cause stress and the things that trigger stress levels at work. You can check out all of these tools and more in the online shop:
- Ebook : Coaching Stress Management – Learn about stress and how it impacts on performance with this step by step guide for coaching Stress Management. It also includes our ideas for how you can manage your own stress levels as a coach.
- Kit : Understanding Stress workshop – Use this kit to confidently deliver an interactive half-day understanding stress workshop. It supports discussions that will help your clients understand stress and how it impacts on their everyday lives and the people around them.
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