I like to read on planes. In fact, I let my magazines pile up and save them for air travel. On the personal side, I’m sure people think I’m a bit odd reading about Thanksgiving meals in March. But from a business perspective, I’m able to read months of related content at the same time.
Case in point: my last trip, I read several articles about employee stress. One I found fascinating because it explained how employee pressure and stress are two different things.
Pressure are those moments when the importance of the outcome matters. Examples of pressure moments might be when you’re presenting a big proposal to a group of investors or studying for a credential that will help you get a promotion. The outcome matters to your career and your future.
Stress are those moments when the outcome is not crucial to your survival. Examples of stressful moments include having too many meetings or giving feedback to a co-worker. The outcome matters but not to the same extent as a pressure moment.
The article went on to specifically focus on pressure moments and how we as individuals need to learn how to manage pressure. It’s not possible to eliminate pressure but, by being able to identify pressure moments, we can develop more perseverance (aka “grit”) to be successful.
Interestingly, I read a second article on resilience training as a way to help individuals manage stress. Because workplace tension can’t be eliminated, it can only be managed. And, by incorporating resilience training, we can develop more “grit” to help us be successful.
Honestly, if I had read these articles within months or weeks of each other, I don’t know that I would have walked away with the same thought. But if pressure and stress are different, and neither can be eliminated, but both can be managed, and finally that grit is the solution. Does it matter if pressure and stress are different if the solution is to deal with them is the same? In both cases, my performance is being affected. Maybe the key is to just teach everyone how to be more resilient (i.e. have more grit)?
Now I realize these are two different articles, written by two different people. Workplace stress is a serious issue and employees need to know how to manage it. I discovered recently that the American Psychological Association estimates the cost of job stress to be around $300 billion per year. To help put that into perspective, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says there are 122 million people employed full-time in the U.S. For the purposes of simple math, let’s say 150 million including part-time and freelancers. That’s $2,000 worth of job stress per person. Think about the implications that job stress is having on the business and the options the organization could employ to reduce workplace stress.
I do agree that completely eliminating stress from our lives could be close to impossible. But in order to effectively deal with pressure and stress, we have to educate employees on the best way to handle each. Part of that is getting on the same page with the definitions and causes of workplace stress. Employee well-being is far too critical of an issue not to get it right.
Image courtesy of Sharlyn Lauby and Colorfy App