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Monday, October 23, 2017

Take a Chill Pill!

What stresses you out on the job? People can’t always define this answer precisely. But they know it when they feel it.

I was reading about stress and micromanaging this week. Fear of mistakes and loss of control are often the reasons cited for managers stepping over workplace boundaries. Work-related stress often causes managers to tighten the grip on everything.

The concerns raised in the article, “Stress is Making You Micromanage, which is Making Everything Worse” were fourfold. This out-of-balance managerial style can kill a team’s creativity. It can result in reduced performance or cause people to leave. Fellow team members' health can be harmed. There is also the obvious problem of not allowing people to do what they were hired to do.

The third of those items especially caught my eye. A study was mentioned from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. It involved the lack of autonomy at work and the potential health-related consequences. Here’s an important summary finding:

“Examining workers over a seven-year period, the researchers found that people in demanding jobs who had little control over their work were 15.4% more likely to die compared with those in less demanding jobs. Meanwhile, people in demanding roles who did have a high degree of control over their work saw a 34% decrease in the likelihood of death.”

This stood out for me because several years ago I took my fourth work personality test. It revealed an important truth about my approach to work. In essence, if a matter is being discussed or a decision is being made that affects my job, I want to be involved. It comes back to a concern over no control over what impacts me most.

Looking beyond this article, I found a study that was done in the United Kingdom a few years back involving employee work-related stress. Here were the major “stressors” identified by a study completed by University of Plymouth.

First up was overload. Easy to see how this happens. Unrealistic deadlines and expectations. Technology overload. Being short on staff.

Second was control. Like the Indiana University study, this revealed that a lack of control over aspects of the job (including decision making) stressed workers. Add to that the lack of influence over performance targets.

Work relationships played a role. Dealing with overly aggressive managers, or not getting support from others, stands out. Harassment and isolation were frustration builders. As was others taking or getting credit for the personal achievements of a good employee.

Job security and work-life balance issues were also noted in the study. Workplace stress occurred when resources or communication issues came up. Like when information about what is going on in the organization is missing. Or you don’t have the right equipment to do the job. Or the right training.

Looking over the list, I was stressing out just thinking about the ways workplace stress can build up! The reality is our work will always have “thorns and thistles.” It comes with life. Jesus of Nazareth warned His disciples of life’s downsides, but then explained…“I have told you all this so that you may find your peace in me. You will find trouble in the world—but, never lose heart, I have conquered the world!” (John 16:33, PHILLIPS)

Want help reducing workplace-related stress? Practice counting your blessings. And bring your heaviest burdens to the Source of Peace. You already have His attention.

Consider this your spiritual chill-pill!

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app.

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