Managing Stress and Wellbeing??? A fine line...

Managing Stress and Wellbeing??? A fine line...

Managing stress in the workplace is a huge part of accommodating and supporting wellbeing but it can also prove to be a grey area, with some embracing it far more vigorously than others.

A good workplace is often characterised by low levels of stress. Employers are highly conscious of this perception and many are going to ever increasing efforts to present their offices as stress-free and tolerant environments. However, these efforts may cause some pause for thought: Has our quest to promote and protect wellbeing in the office environment gone too far in some cases and, if so, are we in danger of losing valuable working hours and, inadvertently, negatively impacting on productivity?

 Various studies of workplace stress, that have been undertaken in recent years, have sought to identify situational and environmental factors that contribute to a stressful workplace environment. The likely danger here is that, on basing research solely on these factors, we ignore the personal and remove all responsibility from the individual, placing the accountability for wellbeing purely on the employer’s shoulders.

A more pragmatic approach is most likely needed where responsibility for wellbeing is shared with the individual. We are becoming conditioned to thinking that it is the sole duty of the employer during working hours, with amenities becoming more extravagant and the ante being upped on perks and rewards from company to company.

Much has been made of sleeping on the job, with nap rooms migrating from the States and becoming a fixture at larger companies over here. (Again, this is Google-led. At said company’s California base, workers can indulge with campus-wide nap pods that include lounge chairs that play calming music.).

Meanwhile, back on home soil, there’s been anecdotal reference to hangover naps in the offices of some of the tech firms. But surely there reaches a point where use becomes abuse and it’s necessary to draw a line?

Although the by-product of the fixation on health and wellbeing is the management of stress and employee contentment and happiness, the employer and manager’s preoccupation with this status is also driven by a desire for optimum productivity; workers firing on all cylinders and giving it their best. That really doesn’t sit well with ‘hangover naps’.

The odd unforeseen hangover is a given. It’s happened to most of us who’ve been caught out on a school night by a celebration or a key event. Providing nap times for this purpose, though, suggests a regularity that is unprofessional and undermines every principle of wellbeing. It’s hardly a progressive step.

 As with everything there needs to be a good dose of common sense along with the knowledge that there can be too much of a good thing. Wellbeing, for all, should be about getting the balance right.

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