It's getting tougher for some employees to avoid having a bad day at the office.
As once-promising signs of a global economic recovery start to fade, many workers are feeling the pressures of work. In a survey of workers conducted last year by the market researcher YouGov Siraj, 59 per cent of respondents in the UAE said their overall stress level was higher than in 2009. In the US, 36 per cent of respondents reported feeling stressed out at their jobs, according to a survey released last month by the American Psychological Association. Forty per cent of American respondents complained about unrealistic job expectations, while 43 per cent cited heavy workloads as the cause of their feeling undervalued, dissatisfied and generally stressed out.
Occasional bad days, of course, are unavoidable. But there are ways to work through workplace troubles. According to the Harvard Business Review, employees can take a number of corrective steps when it seems that nothing is going right:
Do something easy
Everyone experiences some level of stress on most days, and a certain amount can make people more productive. Most people are more familiar with the debilitating aspects of too much stress, such as headaches, irritability and a lack of patience with colleagues and family. Excess stress leads to a loss of focus and productivity, or to the tendency to indulge in unhealthy habits such as eating junk food.
Experts suggest trying to accomplish a simple task to feel a sense of achievement. Send off a report, reconcile a balance sheet or reply to a few straightforward e-mails. Get some things off a to-do list to restore a sense of control.
Clear the mind
We all know what we're supposed to do to reduce stress: get more sleep, exercise regularly, and avoid too much caffeine and alcohol. And yet no matter how much we plan or set priorities, we're more stressed out than ever, and our personal energy is tanking. Can we find new ways to boost our energy and become more productive?
One idea: once a major task has been completed, don't bother checking e-mail again or stopping by someone's desk. Just get up and leave, experts say. If it's too difficult to get through that task, first try taking a few deep breaths and thinking about the things that matter outside of work. At the end of the day, prepare mentally to walk out the door and leave the day behind.
Manage more effectively
Most managers complain of not having enough time. They rush through tasks so they can move on to the next thing. But this kind of haste creates more chaos than it prevents. Instead, approach every task in three parts: Prep-Do-Review.
Spend a minute or two, or even a few seconds, thinking about what to do before doing it. Think about what needs to be accomplished and who should be involved.
Then complete the task. Once finished, think about what was done, what happened and what was learned. Being thoughtful helps in accomplishing more with each task. And while it may not cross things off a to-do list faster, it will help you to take more control over results and cut out some unnecessary stress.
*with Linda Hill and Kent Lineback. Harvard Business Review / Reuters