Reducing workplace stress

Published On: Jun 18 2013 06:03:15 AM EDT

Do you bounce out of bed every morning bubbling with enthusiasm about going to work?  Or do you groan your way to the office?

That is the question, David Posen, author of “Is Work Killing You?” asks in his blog at the WSJ.COM.

Posen identifies three causes of workplace stress.

Volume of work, the speed of today’s workplace, largely driven by technology, and everything from office politics to outright harassment and bullying.

His solutions

1.        Match head count to workload.  Posen says employers need to reduce the tasks to be done or hire more people to share the load.  He admits this will be a hard sell.

2. Acknowledge the Fallacy of Face Time.  Flextime and flexplace make more sense.  They reduce commute time, let folks coordinate work with their family situations and allow them to match work hours to their individual body rhythms and energy cycles.

3. Tame the Technology.  Posen blames the overuse of email for drowning people in an ocean of technostress. Solutions: Restrict after hours, Use functions like “cc” and “reply all” more mindfully so they stop silting up everyone’s inbox.  Avoid multiple messaging (phone plus email plus text within minutes of one another.)  And don’t use email for complex or emotional issues that require subtle nuance and careful communication.

4. Avoid Long Hours.  Research shows that productivity declines after about 40 hours a week.  People who work long hours are not only less productive but are more likely to get less sleep, exercise and down time. 

5. Identify Problem People and Deal With Them.  Abusive people wreak havoc in the workplace, keeping coworkers on edge and distracted. 

 The final question is who is responsible for fixing the problem, employees or employers?  The answer is both.  This issue is affecting everyone up and down the hierarchy: workers, managers, executives and owners.  It’s not only a health issue for individuals, it’s also a performance/productivity issue for employers.  It not only hurts the bottom line, it

Everyone in an organization is a stakeholder and everyone can contribute to the solutions.  Similarly, everyone will reap the benefits of a healthier, safer workplace.  It’s time for everyone to step up, admit that workplace stress is real and damaging and take steps to address it.

David Posen is the author of “Always Change a Losing Game,” “Staying Afloat When the Water Gets Rough” and “The Little Book of Stress Relief.



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