While my previous blog covers inherently stressful careers, every job has the potential to be stressful. While analysing the stressful career characteristics, I also found certain aspects that can make any job stressful.
These criteria are present in all workplaces but if they do exist long-term, they make work harder and more stressful.
- Unrealistic workload: understaffed and overworked
We’ve all been there. We all cope when there is not enough staff and too much work for a day or two. But when there is a chronic shortage of staff doing a huge amount of work, the result is stress. Have you ever worked in a place like that? The workload dumped on just a few becomes so intense, it can lead to workplace toxicity.
- Toxic workforce
A good workplace is where you can confidently do the work expected of you, be heard, be part of an effective team and perform individually with relative ease. But sometimes toxic culture leaks its way in. Negativity starts, morale drops, people get competitive, and staff begin to turnover more regularly. For the employer, productivity decreases, absenteeism and presenteeism increase. Presenteeism is when employees vague out at work and might as well not be there. For employees, negativity, gossip and bitchiness become very stressful. Just as a creative productive team is energising, a negative toxic workplace is draining.
- Toxic Bosses
A toxic workplace may or may not have a toxic boss. They can be the cause of the toxicity.
Harvard Business School did a study on toxic bosses and showed it resulted in:
- 25% of employees taking their frustrations out on clients and customers
- 48% intentionally decreased their work effort and intentionally spent less time at work
- 78% said their commitment to their organization declined
- 66% said their performance declined
Going to work each day knowing the toxic boss is there is stressful, especially if you think you can’t do anything about it.
The culmination of a toxic workplace and / or a toxic boss is bullying. When it gets to this stage the stress is extreme and you need to do something about it. Just so we are on the same page with bullying, I have taken the definition from the Fair Work Ombudsman.
“A worker is bullied at work if:
- a person or group of people repeatedly act unreasonably towards them or a group of workers
- the behaviour creates a risk to health and safety.
Unreasonable behaviour includes victimising, humiliating, intimidating, or threatening. Whether a behaviour is unreasonable can depend on whether a reasonable person might see the behaviour as unreasonable in the circumstances.
Examples of bullying include:
- behaving aggressively
- teasing or practical jokes
- pressuring someone to behave inappropriately
- excluding someone from work-related events or
- unreasonable work demands.”
Bullying is a serious matter, and you need to get help.
- Values mismatch
There may be nothing wrong with your boss or fellow workers or the work but there is something just not right. It maybe that you have a values mismatch. I will give you an example. When I started as a nurse my values were about helping people, the holidays to travel and the large team of young people. Fifteen years later, married to a photographer and it just wasn’t sitting with me anymore. I felt restricted and stressed which led to burnout. My choice was to transition into a career that met my new emerging set of values.
So, in essence it wasn’t the workplace, it was me.
If you feel this could be the problem, check in on your values and if they have changed. Then, make a plan. It will clear up much of the stress.
- Personality clash
Sometimes you will just clash with someone in your workplace. You can’t expect to get on with everyone. It can be stressful, but my first tip is to stay professional, get some mediation and conflict resolution from human resources or your manager.