Stress is one of the most challenging obstacles for companies. Many companies struggle with the dual objectives of trying to make their businesses more competitive, while also trying to safeguard workers’ health.
The approach to getting workers producing more will often mean getting them to work much harder. Companies look at short term output increases as justification that pushing workers harder is effective.
But looking long term to the damage to workers from these types of tactics, the positive effects not only recede, negative ones come to the forefront. This increased stress causes increased worker illnesses, more missed days from work and increased insurance premiums.
Stress in the workplace has become such an important issue that the top insurance companies are now offering strategies and tools to help companies reduce it. When companies comply with these guidelines insurers will often lower their premiums. Family health insurance plans taken out by the employees will also cover costs if any member of the worker’s family is ill, meaning they can stress less and still work to pay the bills.
But not enough companies or their workers are taking their health or stress in the workplace seriously. This has to do with the misconceptions around how stress works, and how it is to be dealt with effectively.
Here are some misconceptions about stress in the workplace.
You Will Be Able to Turn it Off and On
Many people treat stress like a faucet, meaning that think they can turn it on and off. Although it is true that sometimes stress is higher than other times and you can tell what’s causing the stress, if you are in a stressful environment consistently you will constantly be stressed at some level. Think of it like a new television. Part of the reasons why new TVs come on so quickly as that when they are plugged in, they are in standby mode all the time. When you push the on button you immediately get a picture.
This means that you are using electricity every time your TV is plugged in, whether you turn it on or not. It is the same with stress. Put yourself in a stressful environment and every second that you are there, you are experiencing some level of stress. And because stress is so unpredictable, meaning we never know how it affects us individually, you could be in real danger. The best solution is to remove stress from your environment or remove yourself from an environment that has any consistent level of stress.
You Will Know Before it Becomes a Real Problem
The most insidious part about stress is that its effects are often hard to detect until it causes something catastrophic to happen to you. Remember stress causes strains on many of your body’s systems. Your heart and circulatory system gets overtaxed. Your digestive systems is thrown completely out of sync, and your immune system must work hard and in ways that it was not designed for, in order to keep your body in balance.
All of these issues are going on beneath the surface and all you might feel is being overtired, dizzy at times and unable to focus consistently. What is occurring is that your bodily systems that operate and regulate your consistent well-being are under acute attack. There is no telling when any of these issues graduate to a disease or medical condition that is debilitating. It could literally happen any minute and without warning. And many of the conditions it causes are irreversible.
So stress needs to be prevented and eliminated before it can do damage.
Management Will Intervene
You should never assume that management will intervene in a stressful work environment. Chances are that if you are stressed they are too and will often overlook issues like these. Also a lot of companies only focus on short term gains so your stress is a low priority compared to increased sales.
Take it upon yourself to call attention if you are overstressed at work. Tell management and demand a change. It could save your life.