The Stress of Today is the Burnout of Tomorrow

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Der Stress von heute ist der Burnout von morgen

 

What employees and employers can do against permanent overwork

In February, an alarming report circulated: Almost half of employees in Germany feel that workplace stress has increased over the past two years. The “Stress Report 2012” by the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reports that around 50 percent of employees feel strong deadline and performance pressure.

According to the definition, stress occurs when there is an imbalance between the demands a person faces and their resources/competencies to meet them. If they perceive their resources as sufficient, stress can be productive. They feel challenged and strive to solve the situation. However, if they perceive their resources as insufficient, stress can be counterproductive. In this case, the person cannot restore the balance.

 

Time pressure causes stress

To relieve bosses and supervisors: Whether someone feels stressed at work depends on the overall situation. This also includes what stress they bring from their personal environment.

An example: The employee must leave on a specific day to pick up his daughter from daycare. However, he knows he must finish a presentation beforehand. The limited time window creates stress because two fixed points in time coincide. Each of these situations alone would not cause stress. Additionally, everyone perceives the described situation individually and evaluates it based on their experience. Someone with strong skills in handling such stressful situations will perceive stress differently than someone with low skills.

So stress is not inherently negative. On the contrary, stress can be motivating and stimulating. Therefore, companies should value stress management skills in their employees.
Here are some tips on how to better cope with pressure and stress. First, let’s focus on the individual, then on solutions for entrepreneurs and supervisors.


Employees

1.    Laugh

Stress affects mood. Those who only see what they have not yet achieved and what still needs to be done will eventually have depressive thoughts. Laughter is an effective remedy. Watch a funny movie with friends, attend a popular comedian’s show in your city. And don’t take yourself too seriously. Those who can laugh at themselves will never run out of material.

2.    Go offline

We live in an interruption culture. Calls and incoming emails disrupt our ability to concentrate on a task for even an hour or two. If possible, unplug, turn on the answering machine. The best solution: leave your workplace and sit in a meeting room with the necessary documents. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish in this distraction-free zone.

3.    Get enough sleep

Overtired employees are inattentive, slower, and prone to mistakes. Well-rested employees perform their tasks easier and better. By the way: Observing a weekly day of rest significantly reduces stress levels. After a free, restful day, we accomplish more in six days than someone who works straight through in seven days.


Companies

1.    Improve the work environment

People work worse in dim, stuffy rooms than in bright and airy ones. So ask yourself: How could the workplaces be made nicer? Do people need new desk chairs? Should the pointless shelves with files from the last 30 years simply be thrown out? Talk to the employees and address their wishes.

2.    Offer training in stress management

Most of us have not learned to handle pressure and stress well. However, with the right methods, much relief can be achieved in this area. With training or targeted individual coaching, employees not only feel valued, they also receive good tools to help them cope with everyday work. We also have had good experiences with a “Stress Profile”, which employees can create individually and which helps them to work specifically on their personal stress reduction. Based on their stress behavior, every employee should create their own stress management program. This way, they learn to redirect unproductive handling of stress towards productive directions using methods tailored to them, from short- to long-term strategies.

3.    Take care of those affected

Even with the best tools, you will not be able to prevent individual employees from burning out. Through rehabilitation and reintegration concepts, you can regain these people’s commitment to the company. At the same time, the message to the entire workforce is: “Even if you’re not feeling well, we won’t leave you hanging.” This benefits the work environment.

Conclusion

Stress is an everyday problem. To cope with it, employees need to develop stress management skills. They rely on the support of personnel development for this. Only personnel development can sustainably implement an open and trusting culture of stress management in the company. The costs for this quickly pay off for companies, as sick leave and work performance impairments due to stress are increasing steadily.

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