The following post is by Bruce Clarke, CAI’s CEO and President. The article originally appeared in Bruce’s News and Observer column, The View from HR.
Few workplace environments are totally stress-free.
Most of us must work for money and benefits to provide our basic needs. Yes, it would be nice if the job was fun and challenging, but too many are not. Or maybe your manager does not know how to make it a good job!
If you have done everything you can to change things, and you must stay in the job for now, try some ways to limit its effect on the rest of your life.
Scientists say much of our stress comes from NUTs,”Nagging Unfinished Tasks,” forcing us to think about things we should do but have put off. Do you have a long list of workplace to-do items delayed for another day that cycles over and over in your head? That’s NUTs. The best way to get rid of NUTs is to do the unpleasant parts of the job first. When you go home, there is much less to run through your head like a bad movie.
Go have that conversation, fix that mistake, do that boring task, finish the useless project your boss keeps asking about, produce that run for a difficult customer, finish the work you just do not like to do. This really works! You may even find the job is not so bad after all.
Work gets in the way when it has rigid time and place demands. More and more, work can be done with flexible schedules and locations. Many jobs have some room for flexibility where there is a willing manager and a good performing employee.
Would you like to work fewer hours? How about hours outside the normal schedule? Could you open up for early bird customers (or late arrivals) that currently go unserved? Can the work be done anywhere? Would you rather do ten-hour days, or work all weekend? How could you get more done in less time with fewer unnecessary interruptions?
The point is, what change in place or time would help you fit work to your life, and help the employer provide better services or products? Focus on what is good for both rather than just your own needs. Maybe you can find an example at a competitor or similar business where this works well. Talk to your manager.
If your best efforts to make the job work with your life have failed, it may be time to move on. The best moves happen when you know what you really want and have a plan to get there. Too many people leave a job impulsively for reasons such as “no travel,” only to find they now travel even more.
An Action Plan means you know what you want and you are willing to take time defining the steps to get there. More importantly, you must have the discipline to actually follow (and sometimes revise) the steps. It works best when your goals are positive rather than mostly avoidance of pain.
Too much stress in the workplace will affect your productivity, to say nothing of your state of mind and physical well-being. Be honest with yourself about when it may be time to leave a bad job.