The saying about some people thriving under pressure seems to be borne out by a survey of more than 400 advertising and marketing executives interviewed by The Creative Group, a marketing and creative staffing agency serving the United States and Canada.
While 70 percent of the executives surveyed said their jobs are “somewhat or very stressful,” nearly one-third of them claimed that the more stress they experience, the better they perform on the job. Another 60 percent reported that they thrive when under some pressure.
“Although feeling challenged at work can inspire action and propel decision-making among professionals, employees at every level—and employers—need to be wary of relying on pressure as a primary motivator. Taking the time to recharge allows teams the opportunity to re-focus their priorities without unnecessary stress, and strategize new ideas to further business growth,” says Deborah Bottineau, senior regional manager of The Creative Group.
Bottineau adds that executives with years of experience in handling stress should not take their own abilities to manage for granted.
“They must remain mindful of recognizing and supporting employees who may be struggling to handle work pressures. Checking in regularly to offer extra resources and guidance help ensure that employees remain productive, committed and refreshed,” she says.
Here, from The Creative Group, are three tips for fostering a healthy level of work stress among employees:
- Ask staff for input: Touch base regularly with team members to ensure their to-do lists are reasonable. Help your workers with time management and prioritization, and ask for their feedback on how to operate more efficiently and effectively.
- Encourage teamwork: When it comes to solving business challenges, two or more heads are often better than one. Foster collaboration in the workplace by providing plenty of opportunities for staff to partner with one another on initiatives.
- Offer relief: Overburdened employees can quickly slip into autopilot, which can stall innovation. Provide project professionals or consultants who can assist your core staff during peak activity periods.
BUT THERE IS A SUCH A THING AS TOO MUCH STRESS
As a supervisor, you should know stress really is a problem to take seriously.
The Business Case for Preventing Workplace Stress
The case is a simple one: Workplace stress hurts profits because it increases absences and cuts productivity. ‘Want some good hard data that you can use to make this point? According to a press release from the World Congress on Health and Safety at Work, of the 40.2 million working days annually lost by businesses worldwide, 13.4 million are from stress, anxiety and depression, the representatives found.
- Higher Injury & Illness Rates The more stress workers experience at work, the more likely they are to engage in unsafe behavior. The result is more incidents involving personal injury and/or damage to equipment and machinery. The link between stress and incidents isn’t just a matter of common sense; it’s well documented. If you want a good study to cite, see F. Gordon & D. Risley (1999) “The costs to Britain of workplace accidents and work-related ill health in 1995/96, Second Edition,” HSE Books, London; and P. Dorman (2000), The Economics of Safety, Health and Well-being at Work: An Overview, International Labour Organization, Geneva.
- Increased Absenteeism Studies confirm that workers under stress are more apt to call in absent—either because they’re genuinely ill or they’re feigning illness to avoid having to go to work.
- Higher Turnover Stress at work also causes people to leave the company. In addition to losing good people, companies incur high administrative costs in seeking replacements. And, replacement costs tend to rise to the extent that the company gains a reputation for being a stressful place to work.
- Premature Retirement Stress causes older and more senior workers to retire before they’re ready. Result: High replacement costs and in many cases lump sum and pension payments.
- Reduced Productivity Too much workplace stress can harm workers’ productivity and performance. The effect of stress on productivity is hard to measure; but it is real and poses a serious threat to your workers and your company’s bottom line.