She said that companies are overly concerned with absenteeism. Instead, Hyworon said, companies should keep an eye on presenteeism — how engaged and happy employees are in the workplace and their job.
From the employee side, it’s important to establish boundaries, whether it’s cutting back on overtime, or requesting work-from-home privileges. Taking an interest in employee assistance programs and any work flexibility will also show the company that these programs are worth their investment.
Work smarter, not harder
People often feel helpless and get the most stressed out when they feel a lack of control over their environment, whether it’s a lack of flexibility in choosing projects or strict employer rules. “There’s a relation between control and demand. The bigger the gap, the bigger the stress,” said Spinks.
There are ways to take control of your work life, however.
One strategy is to make a preemptive strike against future stress by seeking out jobs and companies that offer more flexibility and suit your work habits and lifestyle. The interview is the first step — they may be interviewing you, but you’re also interviewing them to see if you actually want to work there in the first place.
Sandra Levoy, regional vice-president with the Ottawa office of IT staffing firm Robert Half Technology (a subsidiary of the staffing firm Robert Half International Inc.), recalls a recent client who went on an interview in which the interviewer stressed several times the amount of overtime required. Was the candidate was okay with that? It was a big, red flag, said Levoy, alerting the client that it probably would be a pretty stressful workplace environment.
IT staffers are increasingly looking for companies that offer more flexibility and less stress. She remembers a recent client who was making $100,000 per year at a high-stress job. “They had two young children and virtually no work-life balance. (The client) ended up leaving for a job that paid much less that offered a better balance.”
The desire to work from home at least some of the time, for example, has been increasing rapidly, according to Levoy. “People don’t want to commute any more, and they want to work at companies that offer that flexibility,’ she said. “Companies are beginning to come around, although it takes time to make changes like that.” And the more employers are aware of the desirability of diverse work options for employees, the faster that flexibility will become more commonplace.
She suggests building the potential to work from home — or other flexibility request — into your job offer. If you’re already working somewhere but would like to have a more flexible work style, she said, it doesn’t hurt to ask.
“It’s important to bring your expectations out in the open, and be sure to ask about how flexible they are,” she said. If you’re a desirable enough worker, there should, in theory, be some wiggle room, provided your request fits with your job description.
Another way to regain control is to feel like a top-notch IT job candidate, ready for anything.