Tag Archives: resilience

National Stress Awareness Day 2012

Stress at work is still a major problem for employers and employees alike and statistics suggest stress levels have doubled since the start of the recession in 2008.

This year’s National Stress Awareness Day is on Wednesday 7 November with the theme of  “Defining Outcomes for Well-being  at Work”

You can download information and free resources from the ISMA site.

And you can still read my posts on stresswell-being and resilience and try a 1 minute stress-relieving exercise

If you are in the Manchester area we are running a free Stress Awareness workshop in conjunction with P3 Personnel Management at their offices near the airport on Wednesday 14th November from 0830 – 1000.

To book your free place contact: Eleanor@p3pm.co.uk 

Employee Engagement – the dark side

Surely having employees highly engaged is a good thing isn’t it?

Recent research suggests that whilst high levels of work engagement ie high levels of energy and involvement in work, are good for the organisation – this might be at the expense of other areas of an employee’s life.

Engaged employees create their own resources, perform better, have a positive impact on colleagues, and have happier clients.

But “over engagement” can have negative consequences creating workaholic behaviour in employees so that they regularly take work home. In a Dutch study work engagement was positively correlated with working overtime. This in turn disrupts work-life balance leading to poor health outcomes.

In some cases the inner drive to work hard, even when the person doesn’t enjoy working overtime, can lead to burnout. People forget to rest or maintain their personal relationships.

So there is definitely a dark side to employee engagement. Research shows that more engaged employees are more likely to experience work-family conflict.

High levels of engagement might also have negative consequences at work over time. Highly engaged employees who are enthusiastic about their jobs may take on additional tasks and it’s well-known that supervisors would rather assign tasks to keen employees.

The end result is that the engaged employee becomes over-loaded and begins to suffer ill-health and job performance declines along with the level of engagement.

Leaders are key influencers in employee engagement and because it is contagious engagement can spread across work teams. So leaders have a responsibility to be considerate and use a more transformational leadership style whilst providing social support and coaching.

Source: European Journal of Work and Organisational Psychology V 20 No 1 Feb 2011

Stress back on the agenda?

It seems concerns about stress have been put on the back burner (or is that now “kicked into the long grass”) and I have seen little demand for stress management training in recent years compared to 10 years ago.

That may not be a bad thing if the focus has shifted to developing resilience and stress-proofing, and even better if organisations have improved the well-being of staff and tackled the main causes of work-related stress.

However the mental health charity MIND says that stress and mental health have become taboo subjects in the workplace. For its new initiative “Taking care of business” it polled over 2,000 employees on-line in England and Wales.

  • 4 out of 10 said they felt stressed at work and the same proportion said that stress was a taboo subject at work
  • 2 out of 3 felt under more pressure because of the recession
  • 1 in 5 said they felt they couldn’t talk about it in case they lost their jobs

MIND estimates that with greater awareness and better support businesses could save a third of the £26 billion lost each year to sickness absence and lost productivity.

They suggest this could be done by treating mental ill-health in the same way as physical ill-health by encouraging more openness and being more supportive and less discriminatory. They also want businesses to treat staff well-being as a priority.

Professor Cary Cooper, well-known for his work on stress in the UK, said that stress at work had always had a stigma attached to it and now it’s worse; ” Because of the downturn people are feeling job insecure and more than ever they’re frightened of admitting they’re not coping …… (and) the more we can convey it’s not uncommon the better. 20% of people will have or are suffering from depression”

He also makes the point that even if people are mildly depressed or have  bipolar disorder they can still function effectively and given appropriate treatment recover.

See also: Stress affects men too” and “Stressful days are here again”

Scientists have unzipped clues as to why effects of stress can be passed on from generation to generation

Resilient Leadership

Over the years there have been many approaches to leadership with trait theories, style theories, functional models, situational/contingency models, transactional/transformational theories, ideas about biological and personality characteristics, and more recently emotional intelligence competencies.

So do leaders need to be more intelligent than their followers? Well probably a bit, because that inspires confidence, but not too much more intelligent. Do they need to be empathetic? It’s probably better if they have tough empathy ie “grow or go” but they do need social skills. Do they need to be liked? No, but they need to be respected. And since the last recession integrity has become important again.

Difficult times require people to perform better than normal and people need exceptional leaders to help them do that.  By exceptional I don’t mean charismatic or heroic leaders – although some people respond to that style of leadership which “encourages the heart” – but leaders who do what they say they will do ie are conscientious, and also act as role models. And to do that they need to be both self-confident and emotionally stable.

Research among elite performers found that they had a number of characteristics in common. As well as being intelligent, disciplined and bold, with strong practical and interpersonal skills, they bounced back from adversity.

Jim Collins describes in his new book “How the mighty fall” people who are exasperatingly persistent and never give up. They are not necessarily the brightest, most talented, or best looking, but they are successful because they know that not giving up is the most important thing they do. He says; “success is falling down and getting up one more time, without end”.

This resilience (from the latin to leap back) is linked to personal attributes such as calmness in stressful situations, reflection on performance through feedback, and learning systematically from both success and failure. Resilient people generally:

  • Recognise what they can control and influence and do something about it, rather than worry about what they can’t
  • Stay involved rather than becoming cynical or detached or simply walking away
  • Work with others to shape the environment and influence things that affect them most
  • Act as a source of inspiration to others to counter self-destructive behaviour

Aren’t these the sort of behaviours you would expect from good leaders? So it’s not just about “bouncing back” and carrying on where you left off before. It’s about reflecting and learning from what has happened and then getting back to business.

Resilience seems to be an innate ability for most people and is increasingly found in leadership competency frameworks where it is linked with confidence, authenticity and ethical leadership ideas.

Modern leaders need not just brains and emotional intelligence but also resilience. Acting as a role model is an essential part of being an effective leader hence the need for them to be hardy and emotionally stable. Research shows that resilient leaders can have a positive effect on the well-being of organisations and their employees so it’s well worth organisations developing such capabilities.

See how you can develop resilience

National Stress Awareness Day 2010

Today, November 3rd, is National Stress Awareness Day.

Once again the International Stress Management Association (ISMA) is providing organisations with the free services of Stress Advisers to help staff cope better with stress, become more resilient, and have a better work-life balance.

The slogan this year is: “Start Living – Stop Stressing

You can download a range of free resources from the ISMA web-site now and also access a free webcast at 1500. Just register here

And if you haven’t got time for that try my 1 minute stress relief exercise

Stress & absenteeism in the public sector

Stress is on the increase again (see my earlier post)

And with the cuts in public sector spending it could send the already high levels of stress and absenteeism even higher. The public sector already has an average absence rate of around 10 days per employee, 50% higher than the private sector.

This has been the case for the last 20 years at least. Generous sick-pay schemes have been blamed, often allowing 3 months of full pay and then 3 months of half-pay, and managers and HR departments seemingly reluctant to take action. In the Civil Service there was a tradition of taking your “Whitley Days” as employees saw their sick pay as just another way of taking holidays.

Times might have changed of course since then but the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development’s (CIPD) latest survey showed that public sector employees took off an average of 9.6 days compared with 6.6 days in the private sector.

Public sector employees cover a wide range of jobs including those inherently risky such as the police and the fire and rescue service, as well as teachers, social workers, and NHS staff working in A&E or other front-line roles and their absence statistics include victims of assault by the public. Nevertheless it costs on average £899 a year for each public sector worker compared with £600 for someone in the private sector.

Overall 40% of organisations surveyed noted an increase in mental health problems, including anxiety and depression, which they attributed to the effects of the recession, double the number reporting it the previous year.

The public sector reports higher levels of work-related stress, partly for the reasons described above and the need for resilience when dealing with clients with emotional problems, but mainly because of the re-structuring and organisational changes forced on these services by the government cut-backs.

80% of public sector non-manual workers rated stress as one of the leading causes of absenteeism compared with 50% in manufacturing and 60% in the private sector.

It has been suggested that employers should provide workshops, staff surveys and training of staff to manage stress – all of which is in line with HSE recommendations.

It might therefore be timely that November 3rd is National Stress Awareness Day (NSAD) when advisers from the International Stress Management Association (ISMA) will be providing free stress sessions to organisations.

Do entrepreneurs have ‘lucky’ personalities?

I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” Thomas Jefferson.

I have been interested in the psychology of entrepreneurs for over 20 years, indeed ever since I conducted some of the original research on entrepreneurial thinking styles (says the author Dr Mark Parkinson).

Surveying the scene today one of the things that strikes me is the lack of interest in business ‘luck’: not pure chance, lottery-type luck, but the luck that is a product of … Read More

via Dr Mark’s Business Psychology Blog with permission

Stressful days are here again

Stressful days are here again According to MIND, the mental health charity, half a million people are so stressed by their jobs that they believe it is making them ill and a further 5 million feel very or extremely stressed by their work. And 2/3 of workers report feeling the “Sunday Blues” ie feeling anxious the day before they return to work. MIND says both employers and employees should stop seeing mental health problems as a sign of weakness and that companies should prom … Read More

via EI 4u with permission