Stress, everyone experiences it once in a while. However when your workload is unbalanced, and the pressure is on continuously, it can have severe effects on your work and health. One in seven employees is suffering from a work related stress disorder, especially young workers, aged between 30 and 34 are at risk.
An interview with coaches Nicole Lamey and Marjolein van Doesburg from TalentWatcher about the effects of extreme pressure at work and how to rebalance workload and job satisfaction.
What exactly constitutes an unbalanced workload, what are the symptoms?
Make sure to balance your workload
How individuals experience work pressure differs from person to person. Causes of extreme work pressure can be: too much work in too little time, a lack of experience or knowledge, a conflict with your manager, a poor work environment or a lack of fun during workdays. If you recognise yourself with these five symptoms your workload is probably too heavy:
- Overtime has become a regularity.
- You feel a lot of stress and pressure.
- Productivity: you go and go without any turns and you are not as effective as you used to be.
- You don’t feel like doing anything and have little energy to do anything with your family and/or friends.
- You don’t sleep well and feel tired all the time.
What are the consequences of an unbalanced workload?
There are many consequences and not everyone will experience the same things. For example, when workload is unbalanced, frustration, dissatisfaction and even team conflicts may result. In some cases, mental and physical stresses caused by an unbalanced workload can cause illness or burnout. This intense pressure can also cause tension in your private life. More time spent working automatically means that less time can bespent with loved ones. In many cases you feel too tired to spend time with friends and/or family, while these should be the people who energise you and help you recharge for work.
Are these symptoms more prevalent in young professionals?
Many young highly-skilled professionals show clear signs of burnout and this trend is increasing rapidly. This might be because they are now living in a dynamic world where they have a lot of responsibility and are doing intelligent work, that they are motivated, successful and very ambitious.
These young professionals suffer the consequences of always being connected to the world. There is a negative impact due to all this connectivity since it impacts the quality and quantitative capacity of their brains. They often have a chronic lack of sleep and little time for anything but work. Also, they are continuously working on their tablet or smartphone. Many of them show clear signs of burnout.
How long does it generally take to recover from a stressful period?
That depends per person and per situation. We can say that from all work-related mental health problems a burnout takes the longest time to recover. This varies from three months to over a year.
Does character play a role in this?
Character can be part of the problem, as well as the environment where we grew up and live in. If you are someone who always wants to score or you are a perfectionist, there is a chance that you cannot let go and often work long hours and feel pressure to achieve. However people who do not have any of these characteristics can suffer from unbalanced workload too.
How can you start enjoying your work if there is also a high workload which makes you feel stressed?
We always advise to make sure you discuss how you feel and what you are experiencing with your manager and colleagues so you can look for a solution together. Maybe colleagues can support you by sharing the workload or you can work flexible hours so you have a better work-life balance. Furthermore, you need to take care of yourself: sleep well, at healthy, exercise and take time to relax and do things you love, things that energise you. These energy sources help ensure that you are in a better state to handle the work pressure.
What is the most important thing you can do to start balancing workload and job satisfaction?
You can start balancing your workload by evaluating your workload on a frequent base.
- Make an inventory; write down at least one way to modify the situation to reduce its stress next to each item on the inventory.
- Just say “No” if necessary. Practice saying "No".
- Delegate as many things as possible.
- Learn to prioritise, if this is a hard thing, discuss it with your manager or client to find out what has to be given priority.
- Take several breaks during the day.
- Control your e-mail; only check your e-mail a few times a day and not continuously.
- Control your devices. Gadgets, such as iPads, computers, and smart phones, can consume large amounts of your time and energy.
- Socialize with friends and family.
- Resist the urge to take work home.
- Focus on the positive rather than the negative aspects in your work.
Sources: www.TNO.nl and www.duurzameinzetbaarheid.nl