Stress-busters 2018: How to Relieve Work-Related Stress

Frustrated worker

Stress-busters 2018

Stress is a leading contributor to health problems and also impacts your overall quality of life.

to help, we created a "Stress-Busters 2018" series which will provide you the most effective methods to reduce stress and improve your ability to manage stress-related challenges.


Work. Work. Work.

Anyone who has had a job has likely had to deal with work-related stress at some point or another. The degree of stress varies from job to job, and can be influenced by other outside factors including:

  • Chronic illness
  • Addiction
  • Elder care
  • Moving
  • Debt and financial pressures
  • Children/family member issues
  • Death of a loved one
  • Change in relationship (divorce, separation or marriage)
  • Emotional problems (depression, anxiety, grief, etc.)
  • Local and national economic climate

We will be examining these stress influencers in future articles. Now, however, we want to address the number one contributor to stress: work. Not to make light of stressors that impact us at work, here is a clip from the popular sitcom, Friends, where character Ross Geller, played by David Schwimmer, deals with a work-related stressor:

 

Triggers of Work-Related Stress

Today's technologically-charged world and ever increasing demands on our time, finances and productivity serve to contribute to higher-than-normal stress. Some of the causes of work-related stress include the following:

  • Overwhelmed with a heavy workload or too much responsibility
  • Fear of job loss or reduction in pay/benefits
  • Workplace harassment or discrimination
  • Lack of human resource stress assistance programs
  • Poor management/leadership
  • Low interest in job role, general unhappiness with work
  • Lack of control or influence in role
  • Inability to contribute new ideas or provide leadership
  • Conflict with co-workers
  • Working in high-risk or dangerous conditions
  • Lack of opportunity for advancement or pay raise
  • Working long hours without commensurate pay
  • Lack of benefits (e.g. no health insurance coverage or retirement plans)
  • Being passed over for promotion or advancement
  • Lack of training opportunities to improve skills
  • Being asked to perform duties outside of comfort zone (public speaking, tasks outside of skill set, etc.)
 
Machinery worker with robot in the background

The Robots are Coming! The Robots are Coming!

Advances in technology are also impacting the way we work and jobs in general. According to the Forbes article, "Robots May Steal As Many As 800 Million Jobs in the Next 13 Years" the middle class will be the most impacted by the onset of robotics, automation and technology. The article also states, "A new study by the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that between 400 million and 800 million of today’s jobs will be automated by 2030." 

In the U.S., it seems it’s the middle class that has the most to fear, with office administrators and construction equipment operators among those who may lose their jobs to technology or see their wages depressed to keep them competitive with robots and automated systems.
— David Meyer, in Forbes "Robots May Steal As Many As 800 Million Jobs in the Next 13 Years" 11/29/17

Technology changes improve our ability to be more productive and for companies to save hundreds of thousands of dollars in payroll and benefit expenses when a portion of the workforce is outsourced or replaced by automation. For the worker, however, this adds a layer of work-related stress for two main reasons:

  1. Fear of being replaced by automation and technology or losing a job due to outsourcing
  2. Pressure of having to learn new technology (new software programs, use new automated equipment, etc.) to retain employment on top of current responsibilities

We enjoy a lifestyle filled with techno-gadgets such as tablets, video games, and wired homes we can "talk to" to raise the temperature, turn on/off lights or order a pizza or more dog food from a device that's always "on" and listening for your voice. But in the work environment, technology intended to serve as a helper can turn into a source of frustration and fear.

Focused workers
 

CISM Resources for EMS workers

As you can likely imagine, EMS work is a challenging and stressful occupation, whether you are an emergency medical dispatcher juggling 911 emergency calls or a paramedic resuscitating a drowning victim. EMS work can also be one of the most rewarding vocations, as the Brewster Ambulance team regularly attests to in our monthly team profile interviews. 

While on the job, EMS professionals often encounter scenes that have either delayed or unexpected impact on their emotional and mental states. Car accidents or drownings involving children. Burning structures where animals are victims. Shootings in school campuses. Domestic violence. EMS professionals are trained to "go into the fire" (so to speak) and perform because lives are at stake. However, often after the event is over, these professionals can retain an emotional impact that can build over time and manifest as a stress disorder or mental burden.

In addition, many EMS workers never learn of a patient's final outcome after they've been transported to a hospital for continued care. When an EMS worker does learn that their patient had a 100% recovery and is back to a full life, the stress-inducing event can be more easily relieved and the EMS professional can gain more closure regarding the event.

At Brewster Ambulance, our EMS professionals have access to highly skilled medical professionals trained to help people deal with work-related stress from intense calls or incidents. Massachusetts has Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) teams accessed through state or county governments. These teams are comprised of volunteers and clinicians who are dedicated to providing counseling, debriefing and ongoing support programs to those who have experienced trauma on the job.

Brewster Ambulance outsources stress-related incident recovery care to these specially-trained teams for their trauma recovery expertise and effectiveness. When EMS workers participate in these support programs, they are able to more quickly recover, return to work and they gain higher resilience because of the skills they are given to manage their response to critical incident-related traumatic events.

 
Woman on phone with ambulance in background

Ask for Help from your company

Many companies are increasingly becoming aware of the impact of work-related stress on their workforce's productivity and attendance and are taking action. Depending on the company's leadership and workforce demographic, businesses are becoming places of respite and refreshment instead of burden and stress.

For example, many young companies are creating co-working environments that promote collaboration and cross-team engagement. Other organizations augment their human resources teams with programs and wellness initiatives in partnership with their medical insurance carriers or local health care organizations to help employees manage stress and better cope with issues that arise from stressful conditions.

In many cases your employer may have programs or services to help you cope with work-related stress. Reach out to your supervisor or human resources department to see what is available at your company. Take responsibility for your stress management and health.

More Stress-Busters 2018 Help to Come

Over future Stress-Busters 2018 articles, we'll be covering more ways to reduce stress and cope with a variety of life challenges to help you have more choices in how you can reduce the impact of stress. After all, we're in this together, and we want you to know that we care about your safety and well being.