Introduction to Stress Depression
“I am unable to make it to the office for a week due to my illness…..what about the completion of my pending tasks…?“ “If I am unable to achieve my monthly targets this time as well .….. the organization may ask me to move out.”
Statements and thoughts like these cross every individual’s mind in the corporate world today and ultimately lead to the emergence of ‘stress depression’. People today in the urban setup are working in a fast-paced environment, especially in the big cities.
In these cities, we hear about ‘stress depression’ almost every day from people of different walks of life, be it a professional, an ordinary employee, a student, or a teacher, so much so that an employer or an organization, for that matter, is also not immune to stress. Stress has, therefore, become an inevitable part of our lives.
- While stress depression at the workplace is inevitable, one must identify ways and means of managing it effectively.
- Effective stress depression management could possibly be the key to the success of people as well as the organization.
- While organizations are striving hard to mend ways to make their employees stress depression-free by taking several initiatives, the employees must themselves make a sincere effort towards ‘stress depression management’ through a proper work-life balance.
Understanding Stress Depression
“Stress depression” is a physical or a mental state resulting from physical activities or interactions.
In an organization, stress depression results from the interaction of people and their jobs and is characterized by changes (physical or behavioral) within people that force them to deviate from their normal functioning.
Similarly, the phenomenon of stress depression is individualistic in nature. Every individual has their own capacity to withstand the stress of depression. Some are able to sustain the stress depression for a longer duration, while others yield to undue pressure quickly. Stress depression manifests itself in various forms like high blood pressure, nervous breakdown, tension, insomnia, ulcers, irritability, frustration, or emotional instability. The result of all the above is depression or burnout or resorting to the excessive use of alcohol and drugs.
Sources of Stress Depression
Having understood the repercussions of excessive stress depression, let us also try to identify and explore the various sources which cause stress depression or the so-called ‘stressors’.
These can be broadly grouped into 2 categories – environmental and organizational.
1. Environmental Stressor
Poor lighting and ventilation, excessive noise near the workplace, and the presence of safety hazards are common examples of environmental stressors.
2. Organizational Stressor
However, on the other hand, organizational stressors manifest in various forms. One common example could be lack of privacy or constant supervision, which may lead to mental fatigue at the end of the day resulting in stress depression.
Yet another common organizational stressor is the lack of role clarity. Most of the organizations do not have well carved out roles for various positions in the organization, as a result of which, most individuals in organizations have no clue as to what are they expected to do, what are their powers, etc.
Many times, a lack of role clarity also leads to duplication of efforts leading to chaos or conflicts within a department. The inability of the supervisor or the manager to properly communicate the targets or the expected results to his/her team can also pose to be an organizational stressor.
Excessive stress depression can result in one or more of the following ailments:
|Depression||Alcoholism||Insomnia||Irritable bowel syndrome|
|Hypertension||Asthma||Diminished immunity||Decreased sex drive|
Stress Depression Management
Having understood the various organizational stressors, it now becomes imperative to identify ways of managing them.
We will now focus our discussion on stress depression management and explore various ways of combating stress depression.
The psychological experts, through extensive research, have found ten major ways of stress management activities, especially in the Indian corporate context. We shall look at them one by one.
1. Learn to Say ‘No.’
The employees, out of fear of losing their jobs, hitherto deny doing any jobs asked by their superiors.
The result is that the employee does not realize that his plate is already full for the day, and he/she is in no position to deliver anything beyond that on that day.
Where the employee’s work progress is assessed on a weekly basis, especially in the IT industry, employees do not say ‘NO’ to their superiors and take up huge tasks upon them, thus overburdening themselves. The result is obvious.
They are unable to deliver on time the work that was promised, by the end of the week. Many of them somehow manage to complete their tasks just for the heck of completing it, in order to meet the deadline.
The result is substandard work with umpteen errors.
We also see this commonly in state government setups in our country where the laborers somehow manage to complete their task by the timelines set, lest their contractor may penalize them for the delay.
It is, therefore, imperative to learn the art of saying ‘NO’. Mastering this art may take time, but in the long run, it will immensely help the employee in stress management activities.
2. Learn to Delegate
Many managers of today are very particular about their completion of tasks, as a result of which they themselves spend a lot of time and energy in doing the tasks themselves.
In the pursuance of doing a perfect job, the leaders or the so-called managers of today themselves engage in the day-to-day activities which the employees down below can easily manage if left alone.
The managers should, therefore, learn to supervise and effectively delegate their tasks.
Needless to mention, they should also know their team members well so as to delegate the right tasks to the right persons.
3. Call it a Day Off at the Appropriate Time of the Day
The workload in the office is perpetual. Even if you do overtime and complete your work, be prepared that there will be more tasks coming in the next day. As a result, you tend to spend extended working hours in the office, which is not desirable.
Extended working hours in some organizations is considered as ‘inefficiency’, as you are not able to complete the given or scheduled task within the stipulated time frame.
It also speaks about your poor time management skills. Hence, one must draw a clear demarcation or a line beyond which one would not overstay at the workplace. So you must decide to call it a day off at the timeline that you have set for yourself and strive to maintain a work-life balance.
4. Set Realistic Targets
While scheduling the work for each day, it is imperative to set up deadlines that are achievable. Employees, generally in the wake of casting an impression on their bosses, tend to take up mammoth targets for the day or the week without paying heed as too much would they be able to really deliver.
No considerations are given to exigencies that may arise during the course of the week. This results in incomplete work and often leads to demotivation. One must, therefore, ensure to be practical in setting up daily/weekly targets lest it leads to demotivation.
5. Plan & Prioritize
Most of the employees do not plan out their activities of the week. The work needs to be effectively planned out. More important than that is to identify and segregate as to which of the activities are the urgent, important and which among them are just routine tasks.
The activities then need to be planned and prioritized properly. For example, if it a task to be completed in the week, then it needs to be fragmented into smaller tasks, and a clear-cut plan must be put in place to complete it. The successful completion of the task would indeed depend on how meticulously the plan is being followed.
It is also advisable to park your routine jobs that may not involve too much thinking for the last 30 to 60 minutes of the day. This certainly helps to reduce the stress depression levels immensely.
6. Physical Exercise and Meditation
It is advisable for each individual to take some sports (outdoor) or the other in their daily routine, as this significantly helps in burning out the accumulated stress depression. Most of the employers today, especially in the IT and the IT-enabled sector, have already taken cognizance of this fact.
As a result, many of them are already equipped with gyms which helps employees to distress depression. For example, in a voice-based BPO set-up, the employee keeps calling to customers over the phone or is handling queries over the phone for about 6 hours a day. Imagine an employee doing this continuously for 26 days in a month. A burnout, therefore, is obvious.
Physical exercise, especially brisk walking, yoga, and meditation, come to the rescue. These act as major stress depression busters, thereby rejuvenating the individual at work for improved work performance.
7. Stay Away from Negative Influence
Once you move around in the organization, you would definitely have interactions with several people. Meeting people who exude positive vibrations (or vibes as it is popularly called) is very important as these petty things can make or break your day.
It is therefore essential to be in the company of people who have positive thinking and hence cast positive influences on others.
Going by the old adage …”One is judged by the company he keeps”, you must try to avoid the company of people who exude negative vibrations. Walking along and talking to people near your workplace will make you aware of those who emit negative energies. It is these people who talk ill about the organization and are major contributors to the grapevine.
One must be quick enough to identify and avoid such negative influences. This self-initiative would definitely help in de-stressing the employees.
8. Managing the Office-to-Home Transitions
“How can I reach home on time ….”, “What time should I leave from office….”, “Gosh! I missed the bus again….”, “Wonder…if I will be able to make it for dinner tonight with family”.
Thoughts like these cross each employees’ mind, especially in metro cities where the office is far from the residence. Stress depression, as already explained, is unavoidable at the workplace and thoughts as mentioned above would only tend to increase the stress depression.
Hence, such office-to-home transitions need to be effectively managed. Taking this a step ahead, one must strive to psychologically shift gears from stressful work situations to relaxed evenings with family. This certainly plays a major role in stress management activities.
9. Plan out a Short Vacation
In most corporates today, the compensation structure is embedded in components like LTA. The amount or the intensity of this component, however, varies from organization to organization. While most of organizations use this component merely for passing on tax-free benefits to their executives, other organizations, especially multinationals, have adopted this component religiously.
In MNCs, most of the employees have this component embedded in their pay structure, and hence invariably, all its employees are entitled to LTA. Under this LTA policy, employees in such organizations are compelled to take a minimum of 4 days to leave in the year (with prior approval) during their course of work.
This initiative pushes the employees to plan out vacations which can include their families. Such getaways help the employees extensively in stress management activities. Looking closely into the corporate, especially those with a lot of dynamism, employees (of all profiles – sales, marketing, operations, finance, accounts, etc. are subjected to a lot of stress depression.
Lower-level employees are constantly supervised for their error-free and timely performance. There are stringent timelines to meet, and in the race to beat the deadlines set, senior-level employees are also exposed to a tremendous amount of pressure. These people are mainly involved in decision-making activities, carving out new strategies, and often have to lead in ambiguities. This builds in huge amounts of stress depression, so much so that some of them may even yield to undue pressure.
This invariably calls for short getaways and planned vacations that would detoxify their mind from stress depression. In most companies, the executives on vacations are not allowed to pick up calls or even respond to emails. Their thinking is since you are on vacation, you need to be completely cut-off from the office to enjoy it the fullest. Strict instructions are rolled out that there should not be any kind of call, etc to those on vacations.
Most of the companies even go to the extent of blocking their emails for those many days of the vacations, who may be tempted to stay connected with the office and respond to emails.
10. Redo your Work Station
The easiest and the least possible thing that an employee can do to remove stress depression is to face-lift your individual workstation. There can be innovative ways of doing this. Think of ways that motivate you or inspire you. One way possibly could be to put up some inspirational quotes at your desk. If you are leading a team of people, then quotes like “Leaders do not do different things…they do things differently” or “When the going gets tough…. The tough get going”.
Stress depression quotes like these can not only motivate you but often prove to be contagious and can inspire your colleagues in the adjoining workstations as well. You can then, find yourself filled with positive energies and would invariably be able to overcome stress depression to a larger extent.
How are Organizations Coping up with Stress Depression?
At this juncture, it would be prudent to talk about a few initiatives which the organizations are taking to cope up with stress depression.
Organizations are working hard and assisting employees in their own ways of stress management activities.
Training is an important initiative in this respect, which is an organization resorts to, in a whole-hearted manner, it can actually contribute a lot to their employees in stress depression management. If the employees are trained on various skill-sets, they can do their jobs effectively and efficiently, which will help them to manage stress depression. Multi-skilling an employee not only helps him/her to grow professionally as an individual but also helps the organization graduate to the next level.
For example, if a welder or a foreman in a factory is properly trained to do his task, then he would be able to do his job well in time and effectively also.
2. Flexible Policies
Flexible policies also contribute in a major way towards stress management activities. If the policies of the organization are flexible enough (of course, how much flexibility will always be business-dependent), then the employees may not be too much stressed.
As an illustration, think of an employee who has almost completed 1 year and 10 months in an organization. The employee has shaped up well and is a consistent performer. Due to exigency at his domestic front, he needs a loan from the company. However, as per the company policy, he is not entitled to one, as he has not yet completed 2 years of service in that organization.
This has added up to his level of stress depression resulting in a dip in his recent performances. A dip in his performance would, therefore, imply a dip in the growth of the business. However, if the policies can be relaxed (they are flexible enough) to an extent on a case-to-case basis, then it can genuinely help the employee to tide over the crisis and help them considerably in stress depression management. Consider yet another instance when the organization is quite big and has a multi-location setup.
There may be employees who would be keen on relocating and moving closer to their families. If this doesn’t materialize, then such employees would get stressed up and would therefore not be able to render good performance. In such a scenario, if the organization is able to relocate the employee (of course, on a meritorious basis) and facilitate the movement, then such initiative can also contribute majorly towards stress depression management.
It is also commonly seen that employees start non-performing when they do not find any challenge left in the job or the task that they do. It is highly imperative for an organization to constantly improvise the role, lest there is no visible challenge left in the job. In such a case, an employee gets turned off and his/her performance takes a dip.
Hence, creating inherent challenges in the job is what organizations should strive for. Such initiatives would help considerably in stress management activities. In fact, organizations today are looking at a host of initiatives like these which in today’s context is popularly called ‘employee engagement.’
This is a guide to Stress Depression. Here we discuss the sources, management and how are organizations coping up with stress depression? You may look at the following articles to learn more –
- Stress Interview
- 10 Golden Rules for Workplace Professionalism
- Dispute Resolution at Workplace
- Workplace Laws