Stress is a tricky thing, and it can appear as a different monster in everyone. Symptoms can variate, depending on how an individual copes with the pressure. The list of stress symptoms is endless, but the point is that being overworked and stressed doesn't look the same on everyone. And there are different levels of stress as well.
What makes it even trickier is the fact that there isn't a certain amount of work or a specific environment that we know causes stress. It all comes down to a person's preferences and bandwidth level. If a person has more tasks and responsibilities than what they feel they can manage, it can cause them to feel overwhelmed. If this feeling becomes constant, it will cause stress.
A particular workload might be the perfect situation for one person, who is thriving and developing their skills through the pressure, while the exact same workload causes stress to another. And to make it even more complicated, a person's personal life will also affect their overall stress level, which underlines how vital a leader's understanding of each individual's needs is.
Research conducted in the United Kingdom shows that around 13.5 million workdays are lost yearly due to employees' stress concerns. Some of the most common issues leading to workplace stress include the fear of being fired, the pressure to fulfill above-average expectations (with no increase in job satisfaction), and lack of control over how the work is done. This is just one of many research pointing towards how costly a bad work environment can be.
Sadly, in some organizations, we still make each other believe that it's necessary and a symbol of status to work 60+ hours a week, and that is simply not for everyone. But even worse, in some teams, it's common to view someone who sets boundaries and says "no" to work tasks or extra responsibility as weak or unambitious. Stress is the aftermath of creating an unhealthy work environment, based on how we lead military forces back in the day. And yes... Unfortunately, that is where some of the leadership principles we use today started.
No one could foresee that stress leading to depression and anxiety would cost the global economy approximately 1 trillion in lost productivity. Read that again... one trillion dollars! But the cost in dollars is secondary to the consequences for the individual's quality of life. That is what truly matters.
I know it sounds complicated and almost impossible to counteract, but it really isn't. Successteam is our contribution to counteract stress. We create teams that perform due to a happy and healthy work environment. But by using Successteam or not, the fact is, it's 2021, and if you don't have a strategy for preventing stress, you are already behind. The people are the foundation of any great team, and you need to ensure their mental health. The truth is, we all need to be more informed on this subject. Raise awareness if you see signs of stress in a team member, and speak up if you feel overwhelmed yourself. It has to be normalized taking care of our mental health first.
It's essential to give all team members the best conditions to perform and deliver on targets. It's best for the individual team members, and it's best for the company, which gets to keep key employees. Win-win!
By Nadia Nielsson, CEO of Successteam.