Workplace stress is endemic. Many people say that we work too much these days. It could well be the case that some of the tasks we take on are not necessarily beneficial to the output of humanity, but as we move into the 21st century in an increasingly competitive marketplace, employees and business owners are often forced to work longer hours to justify their salary.
Or do we? Are we actually kidding ourselves with the narrative that we must always be doing something, and are the tasks we’re undertaking actually worthwhile? This article in the popular press looks at the cult of productivity and asks if we are promoting a culture that needs to be obsessively busy without a focus on lifestyle or outcome.
In my own professional life I find that I am assisting with the well-being of many executives and offices workers suffering from the symptoms of work related stress. They are often driven by a work culture based on a protestant ethic that has crossed the atlantic. All too often they are hounded by information technology that allows clients and bosses to contact them any time of the night or day, or even on holiday, with an instant response often required.
As a result, it is not unusual to see office workers suffer from nervous breakdowns on holiday. One of my favourite authors, Eric Frome, warned us in 1976 about the introduction of labour saving devices. It was his prediction that the rise of consumerism couple with the time saved would actually lead us away from a technological utopia and into one where we are always accessible. Instead of saving is time, it would put us in a position where our desks are never cleared and there is always more work to do.
People have nervous breakdowns on holiday – it’s not unusual. Information technology – Eric Frome – in 1976 to have or to be warned us in his book about the introduction of labour saving devices. And he predicted that the rise of consumerism coupled with the time saved by labour saving devices would lead us away from the predicted utopia and into a world where we are always accessible. Instead of saving us time, put us in a position where you could never clear your desk and there was always more work to do.
This is one of the biggest factors driving the epidemic of work related stress. All too often people are obsessed by the end results of their work, such as possessions and property and the gains created by their work, as opposed to the process and their state of life at the time of actually working. This can create a feeling of emptiness when people discover their lives are materialistic and not based on a shared emotional context.
Alternatively it is possible to step away from the culture of productivity and find a being mode, which is a more healthy and relaxed way of appreciating who you are and what’s important in your life. Many companies are buying into this idea, offering employees well-being services, some of which purport to teach mindfulness and help people find a satisfactory mode of being.
Often however this is fine in theory, but organisations can all too often place too much of an emphasis on the usefulness and results of well-being type behaviours. Research has shown that on average people are given a 20 minute set mindfulness program that gets left behind in a workplace culture that has no space for slowed down type thinking.
Frequently individuals and employers call upon me to teach ways in which they can reduce the workplace stress. If you would like to find out simple and effective techniques with the potential to give you a more meaningful life and step away from the troubles of work, please call me to arrange a free consultation session where we will talk through the options available to you.