On 23.07.2014 I was part of the expert panel for Guardian Careers on preventing and coping with work-related stress. I have compiled some of the questions and answers below. You can find the whole discussion here.
1. Should there be any responsibility on employers not to create stress or is it down to employees to manage workloads?
I would say that it is ultimately down to employees to manage stressful situations effectively. This would include managing the workload skillfully through careful planning along with forging good working (and personal) relationships with employees and management. And yes, employers have these legal obligations but to be completely honest and after many years in the corporate sector in the UK, very few actually implement them and it ultimately falls down on employees to deal with stress and workloads. Sad but true reality.
2. What place is there for cultural activities that improve social relationships?
Cultural and social activities in general are critical for building positive and friendly atmosphere in the workplace, which would ultimately result in higher productivity and happier employees. Team building days out on a quarterly basis, weekends away abroad for having achieved targets, drinks out on a Friday night after work, a trip to the theater – this all is a great way to build strong culture within a company.
3. If people feel stressed out by their workload, do you have any tips on how to manage this?
I would say advance planning is the key here. Sitting down with your team, understanding the deadlines clearly and both external and internal stakeholder expectations is important too. Then outlining the project schedule and referring back to it regularly to update and amend. Understanding your boss’s expectations is important here too as it would help shape your schedule of works.
And if and when you realise you are behind, to schedule a catch-up with your team/boss to update and ask for advice and input.
4. What are the top tips that work for you in managing stress day to day?
A bit of physical exercise, going for a walk in fresh air, talking on the phone with a family member or even taking a quick power nap (if you have time of course) but all depends on the situation and your work day.