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Dealing With Workplace Stress

Dealing With Workplace Stress

Knowledge workers often think they don’t face health and safety issues, says one expert, but when you make your living with your brain, you have to take care of it. Unmanaged stress can lead to physical and mental malaise, decreased productivity and worse. Occupational health professionals detail how to stay your happiest and healthiest

Wherever possible, provide spaces for collaboration, and seek out office space with as much natural light as possible for everyone. If you’re already entrenched, and if space allows, reorganize workspaces so as many people as possible have access to windows and natural light.

It can often be challenging to retrofit an office, but there is one way that employers can encourage more wellness in such an environment — get out. “It’s imperative that you get people outside, even if it’s only for a short period. This can be anything from a regular walking club to walking outside to go for a coffee-break,” according to Morrison.

Colleague challenges

Whether you have a fancy ergonomic chair or not, you definitely have co-workers. “Stress stemming from interpersonal interactions is one of the main things people are paying attention to now,” said Kelloway. “This includes bullying, aggressive behaviour, violence, and work rage.”

This can be a real minefield for IT professionals, said Kelloway. “You might be working with other people who don’t really have those soft skills,” he said.

Another pitfall? If you work in a small IT department — or you are the IT department — it can be hard to find co-workers to commiserate with. “We rely on people to understand the nature of our work,” said Kelloway. “An IT person might not have anyone like that, or they might not have the necessary soft skills to seek that social support elsewhere. Talking to your family is not the same thing.”

A way to reach out to your peers, however, is to attend local industry mixers, or user group meetings for your favourite IT products. Staying in contact with peers is important, said Hyworon. “As the nature of work becomes more knowledge-based, the nature of what we do becomes more solitary, with less social interaction,” she said. “Those who work in the 24/7 world of IT are particularly at risk.”

But what if you want nothing to do with a colleague? Spinks recommends confronting the issue head-on. “If conflict needs to be resolved, you shouldn’t let it fester. Prevention is always beneficial,” she said.

The economy

Granted, we’re all feeling a little down these days, what with the economy suffering its own depression. As expected, the age-old workplace fear over job security has reared its ugly head once more. “Trend-wise, this had almost gone away, but now it’s back,” said Kelloway.


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