In every workplace, employees have to face work-related stress, pressure, and depression. It might eat one up from inside and outside, and hamper one’s professional career besides personal life. But one is not powerless at all in dealing with stress. One just needs proper guidance from experts.
The novel coronavirus pandemic has pushed the issue to a different angle. It has become a lot harder to tackle stress as the distinction between home and office has become subdued, and the remote working experience is unfamiliar to all.
On this account, Youth Policy Forum (YPF) brought up a brand new webinar titled “Managing Stress at Workplace”. The first session of the webinar presented by YPF Mentorship and Skills was conducted live on Facebook on September 15, 8:30 pm.
The esteemed speaker was Naved Ahmed Chowdhury who is an international development practitioner, working in the development sector for several years. He started his career in Bangladesh as an economist. Since then he has worked in the global development sector for many years and is experienced working across Africa, Middle East, South Asia, and Latin America. The session was moderated by Saima Mehedi Khan who is a co-founder of YPF and the lead of YPF Mentorship and Skills Programme.
More than two thousand people tuned in to Facebook live in the wholesome discussion and asked the speaker relevant questions. In the hour-long session, the speaker shed light on some of the most pressing challenges employees counter in the workplace.
Covid-19 and Workplace
“When managing stress at the workplace, some of us rise above it, some barely survive through the whole journey, and some just drown in the pitfall,” said Naved.
He began the session describing the changing nature of the job field because of Covid-19. There has been a huge change in the working environment, schedule, and pattern. Remote work experience is new to all and is affecting everyone drastically.
“Before the pandemic struck, we could directly communicate with co-workers and discuss in real-time. But now we all are alienated from each other”, he continued. “Now, we don’t have the opportunity for a human touch, face-to-face communication, or discussion over a cup of coffee”.
He further went on explaining a little about his personal journey in work-from-home. “You’re just by yourself, you’re in your own cocoon in front of a screen and void of any human interconnection. That’s a bit scary”, he narrated his own experience.
Being Mentally Sound
Next, he talked about the importance of being mentally sound in the workplace. Mental health at the workplace relates to an individual’s emotional, psychological, and social well being. Stress leads to unhappiness and lower productivity.
“Employee unhappiness will have an impact on the long-term sustainability of the organization and will put the business model into question which will eventually affect the profit-making”
In this regard, he emphasized in creating a positive environment where everyone has the opportunity to contribute. “In big companies like Google or Oracle, innovation, new ideas, and positive competition are supported”.
Techniques and Principles of Stress Management
Naved pointed out some tools for stress management: self-monitoring; positive thinking; and regular exercise. “Physical exercise is a very efficient way of stress management. Gardening, reading books, yoga, meditation, etc. function as stress-busters”, he said. “The most important thing is being and thinking positive”.
He also identified four principles of stress management, which are: preventing stress from happening, listening to those who are affected, responding sensitively but robustly, and learning from every case.
Maintaining Work-Life Balance
It is of great importance in developed countries nowadays. His advice was to celebrate little achievements and try to enjoy leisure time with family and friends. Taking up responsibility for every task definitely does get overwhelming and it is harsh for a person to constantly put oneself in the perspective of needing to be perfect all the time. So Naved stressed the importance of doing fewer tasks but doing them well since everything is not equally important.
Managing Stress – Organisational Priority
To get the best out of an employee, every organization should give them flexibility. He painted some of the initiatives every organization should adopt to help its employees manage stress. Working conditions should be adapted to individual aptitude. Employees should be allowed to participate in the design of his/her own work situation. “Our country is very hierarchical, so many times people do not share their ideas. As an organizational priority, we need to be open about this,” Naved stated.
Mr. Chowdhury concluded the session by answering questions from the audience. “I personally enjoy listening to music or BBC podcasts, and sometimes go out for a walk. Everyone should do something to make life enjoyable,” he replied when asked by the audience about how to deal with stress from a long monotonous job.
“You have to tell yourself that everything was not in your control and you have to accept these things. Everyone has to find motivation from within”, he said on being questioned about self-motivation.