MNC Consulting Group Newsletter
May 2013
The Efficient Organization


Burned out Flippant About Stress


Being stressed has become a cliché. No one seems to be taking it seriously anymore. It has become symbiotic with life.


In "It's not sex. It's not drinking. It's stress and it's soaring," research shows that six in ten workers in major global economies are experiencing increased workplace stress and 80% of workers feel stress on the job. Nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress and 42% say their co-workers need such help. While these stats may shock us, what we're not seeing is the effect of stress beyond these numbers.  


If our stress increases, it can take a toll on our health. But in the workplace, if left unchecked, employee stress can decrease productivity and this directly impacts the organization's bottom line. 


Stress at work can be caused by a variety of factors including job overload, people problems, work environment, and work overload.


If a person is experiencing job overload, the person is in the wrong job. Some experts believe that re-designing the job to suit the employee's career path may help decrease stress, but this rarely happens. Employees usually leave their existing jobs in search of better careers and reduce their stress.


People problems are what they are - sometimes working with people whose personalities are not compatible with our own cannot be helped. Our choices include tolerating the situation (and by doing so, increasing our stress), improving the situation by developing assertiveness or coping skills, building interpersonal skills that help us work with teams and resolve conflict, or getting a new job.


The work environment is also another area that people can easily control - reconfiguring furniture for maximum creativity, reducing background noise, improving lighting - these can all help to reduce stress.


The biggest stressor, however, is work overload. This one is sometimes beyond the control of the individual and relies on the organization to take action. Work overload may be the key constraint to efficiency and productivity.


The culprits of work overload that create the biggest bottlenecks and stressful situations are inefficient systems and processes. It is the employers' responsibility to provide systems and processes that are efficient and contribute to employee wellbeing.


Work productivity aside, stress can cause severe health problems and in extreme cases, can cause death. The effects of stress on heart health and the immune system are well documented, but stress can also manifest in behavior changes such as smoking, drinking, overeating, sleeping poorly, reducing or stopping exercising, poor nutrition, and other behaviors that will likely harm health.


Still flippant about stress? We have no reason to be.

Pursuit of Profit
Making Stress Work FOR You

Despite all of its bad publicity, stress does have a good side. In fact, stress has been described as a "burst of energy" that merely tells our body what to do. It is our reaction to stress that makes it bad or good - if it makes you feel out of control, it is bad; but if you're in control of your stress, it's good.


Studies have determined that moderate amounts of stress - a short-term buzz - can actually help us perform tasks more efficiently and improve our memory. The good stress (or "eustress") gives us a feeling of being in control and provides a sense of accomplishment. It can also improve heart function and make us resistant to infection.


By focusing our energy on what needs to get done, stress can help us be very successful. Disempowered people are not able to take control of stressful situations, but successful people take the extra stress energy and make it into a high energy, positive situation.


Leaders can help their employees experience just the right amount of stress to work effectively and efficiently. This is not only good for the organization, but it is good for the individuals, as well.


Here are five considerations on how to promote good stress at work (adapted from "How Stress Can Be Good for You and How to Get More Good Stress in Your Life" by Elizabeth Scott):


  1. Relationships. When people form good relationships at work, their good stress rises. Encourage teamwork and delegate responsibility on projects that will further encourage formation of good working relationships.
  2. Goals. Regular performance reviews that include setting goals and tracking goal progress contribute to good stress, providing the employee with positive energy while they work toward their and the organization's goals.
  3. Knowledge. Ensure that employees are given frequent opportunities to learn something new. This allows employees a chance to upgrade their skills and perhaps pursue career advancement. Both are beneficial to the organization.
  4. Gratifications. These are experiences that allow employees to draw on their particular skills and strengths to complete a project, allowing them to be absorbed in the pursuit of their goal. For instance, if an employee excels in project management, allowing them to manage projects provides them with a gratifying experience and makes them more valuable to the organization at the same time.
  5. Challenges. Encourage employees to view negative stressors as opportunities for growth. For instance, offer coaching to employees that are having difficulty with change.


Ensuring your staff gets the right amount of stress may also set them up for a greater level of optimism in everything they do. And this optimism translates well for the organization, too, since optimists always see the brighter side of things, experience more positive events in life, are less stressed, and enjoy better overall health.


An optimist is someone that every employer wants on their team!


In My Humble Opinion (IMHO)


As I wrote this newsletter, I wondered about my greatest stressors and determined that I have only one: Uncertainty. But I also determined that uncertainty can be good - it allows for a lot of creative preparation for worst case scenarios that for the most part, never materialize. The stress arising from uncertainty is really only a state of mind. And I purposefully choose peace of mind to combat uncertainty and stress. IMHO.


"Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency. Nothing is that important."

Natalie Goldberg

About MNC Consulting Group
Our goal is to help you to dramatically increase efficiencies that immediately boost your profit margins.


ISSN 1925-8941   

Extreme Profits is a monthly electronic newsletter discussing how leaders can be more efficient and areas where organizations can save more money. 


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In This Issue
Flippant About Stress
Making Stress Work FOR You
In My Humble Opinion (IMHO)

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