The resilient mind at work: are you happy, healthy and ‘here’?
01 December 2017
I was in a factory in the midlands a few weeks ago, running a training programme that is designed to tackle stress in the workplace. One of the first questions I asked the senior management team was whether there was anybody currently out on stress leave.
The reaction around the boardroom table was interesting. Everyone looked at everyone else for a couple of beats before the HR manager admitted there were three people not at work because of stress. What intrigued me was the fear around giving this answer.
Why was it that the company, which had hired me in to address this very issue, was reluctant to give me this most basic of information? It was immediately apparent that this was a conversation with which they were uncomfortable – not only with me, but also amongst themselves.
I have never experienced a workplace where the stress is because of a single problem. It is always a stew of organisational and personal issues, and it turned out to be no different in this situation. They needed help to identify the individual ingredients in this stew.
So how do you separate out those ingredients? Is the organisation responsible or is the employee responsible? Let us take the analogy of an orange. If you squeeze the orange you get orange juice. If you squeeze a lemon, you get lemon juice. And if I work for you and you squeeze me, you get Richard juice. The point being that the employee’s reactions to being squeezed will vary from person to person. Some will thrive on it and others will begin to crumble quietly under the strain.
In other words, there are organisational issues and personal issues. Ask yourself these questions about your own job:
- Are there increasing and conflicting demands on your time?
- How much control do you have over the way you do your job?
- How much support do you have from you colleagues and line manager?
- How well are you getting on with your co-workers?
- Has your role changed?
- How is that change managed in your department?
It is in the answers to these questions that you will identify the organisation’s contribution to the stress in your job.
So that is the squeezer, but what about the squeez-ee? Everyone has a natural stress threshold, and a learnt stress threshold, from life and work experiences. In reality, and this might be a hard one to swallow initially, all stress is self-induced. Most of us believe that we have no control over our stress response or feelings. This is simply not the case.
Take the example of Enda Kenny getting abuse from Irish Water protestors. We did not see any juice. Why? Because he had learned to separate himself from the drama and protect his own emotions. Like him or loathe him, his reactions were under his own control; he was not a slave to the environment in which he found himself.
Imagine the situation where your organisation has addressed its contribution to creating stress, and you have been trained to manage your own personal responses. So now, not only are you happy, healthy and ‘here’ at work, but when you go home to your family, you are happy, healthy and ‘there’.
‘The Resilient Mind at Work’ is a one-day course designed and delivered by Richard Burke to suit all levels throughout an organisation and is aimed at individuals who want to learn simple techniques to boost focus and perform better under pressure.
If this resonates with you, and you think the course would be of benefit to you or any of your colleagues within the organisation, you can book a place by contacting the CPD Training Team on (01) 665 1305 or emailing email@example.com.
Richard Burke runs Resilience Matters Ltd, which won Best Consultancy Partnership award at the IITD Awards in 2015. Richard has over 20 years’ experience as an engineer and MBA qualified manager, and is a trained analytical hypno-psychotherapist. For further details on how to reduce stress in your workplace, visit www.resiliencematters.ie or email firstname.lastname@example.org.