The hidden cause behind work stress

The hidden cause behind work stress

Posted / August 19, 2019

By Lynn Smith, Chief People & Operations Officer

67% of you lay awake at night, worrying and stressed about work, according to a recent @MyEva_App Twitter poll. Without speculating on the exact sources of this stress, there is enough anecdotal and statistical evidence within reach of the C-Suite, to warrant their support of a standalone mental health strategy, in line with existing HR #WorkplaceWellbeing initiatives.

So, what should such initiatives focus on? As most managers and HRDs will attest, stress at work isn’t always directly linked to tasks or workload. We aren’t robots, able to file into our workstations, deliver optimum results for seven hours then sign-off with a smile. We have to grapple with a multitude of factors that naturally impact on who we are as colleagues, just to stand still, never mind live our best lives! We’re expected to navigate relationship tensions, child-rearing, health issues, self-esteem and of course, money.

In our ongoing attempt to contribute to #WorkplaceWellbeing projects across the UK, not just via MyEva herself, but through practical knowledge-sharing, we posted an action plan for talent departments who wanted to improve the financial wellbeing of their workforce back in April this year. The plan featured an Office of National Statistics  Labour Force survey, which found that 65% of employees would like their employer to provide access to financial advice which goes beyond the usual statutory requirements of giving advice on pensions. Despite the overwhelming majority expressing this desire, just 7% of employers are providing access to financial advice through their benefits schemes or signposting to services such as MyEva. The research went on to quantify the cost of money-related stress, not just to those affected but to businesses too, who lose 10 million lost working days a year as a result.

So, we’ve got 67% of you lying awake at night due to work stress and 65% of you wanting access to financial advice at work. As if that wasn’t a clear and concerning enough correlation, further research conducted among MyEva users showed us that 58% of people would ‘struggle or panic’(i.e; stress out) if faced with an unexpected bill!

Alongside our core recommendation of providing affordable (we really mean that – no more than £2 per user) regulated, independent financial advice via the MyEva app, here are a few more practical changes you can implement and share to reduce work stress:

1.Batch and bulk tasks

It’s more than tempting to jump from one type of task to another instead of sharpening our concentration by doing one kind of action – such as typing –  before switching modes and doing, say, phone calls. Our priorities often dictated by the order of emails as they appear in our inbox, or the level of pressure we feel from those waiting for us to do something. Where possible, practice resisting external factors and allowing colleagues to project their own stresses onto us, by organising your to-do list into categories of tasks, such as ‘Ideation’, which may require a meeting room and a whiteboard for you and your inspiration to flow. Other categories might include ‘Admin’, which we can often do in a noisy office whilst listening to music in our headphones to make the mundane tasks seem less dull, or ‘Meetings’, which could be confined to just one day in the week, rather than being spread out and potentially interrupting your flow of production.

2.Create false deadlines

Have a presentation due in four weeks? Seems like a fairly long deadline, but just the thought of something going wrong on the day, or running into a formatting issue that takes hours to solve can fill us with dread and produce a hormonal stress response in our bodies, filling us with adrenaline and increasing our heart rate. Something most of us have heard a dozen times but don’t always practice is the concept of dividing the task up so we’re doing a little bit towards it each week. Map out the number of slides you’ll need, or the number of pages for a report and so on, depending on the task ahead, then divide it up by the number of weeks you have until d-day. Suddenly, a 20-slide presentation doesn’t seem like such a mammoth task when you’re doing five slides a week (or, one a day if you want to take it even further).

3.Turn your devices off

Another oft-heard pearl of working wisdom seldom practiced, psychologists say we’re addicted to receiving notifications, so it makes sense that we would have our phones on at work, or email alerts constantly hovering over our desktop displays. Create a habit of checking messages three times a day, including emails. People will soon get used to your new rhythm and call you on your desk phone if there’s something that needs an immediate response. Focusing on deliverables will help us to be more productive and inevitably create higher quality output if we’re left to work in peace.

For more on financial wellbeing in the workplace, visit www.myeva.com or join our LinkedIn community to see how others are improving the financial wellbeing of their workforce.

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