December 4, 2012

Employee Stress: Are You Checked Out?

I had a nice talk with a supervisor last month.  We talked about the danger of being “checked out.”  Now, this is a business blog, so let’s not get any rash ideas about what we were discussing.  Let me clarify things…

In our conversation, being checked out referred to a distant, un-connected state of mind.  It typically results from an overall feeling of stress, fear or some other powerful emotion.  Checking out can be a defensive reaction, a way to avoid the risk of painful involvement or attachment.  My chat with the supervisor was all about checking out due to stress. 

Let’s be real; many people are having hard times these days.  Stress from employee stressother facets of life can easily carry over into the workplace… and vice versa.  We are many things to many people (spouse, parent, mentor, friend, co-worker, etc.), but there is just one person in the center of it all.  Sometimes, we all need a little help with staying checked in.

Do everything you can to help manage employee stress in your workplace.  Too much stress will surely have a negative impact on your and your coworkers’ performance.  Consider these tips for managing your stress level at work:

Start your day right.  Develop a morning routine to put yourself in a great frame of mind, and stick with it.

Embrace excellence, not perfection.  A lot of stress is based on unrealized, unreasonable expectations.  Focus on learning from mistakes, and don’t dwell on them – yours or your coworker’s mistakes.

Know what is expected of you.  Not knowing is likely to lead to mistakes, and more stress.  Control what you can by knowing the expectations. 

Take a break.  Do you work through lunch?  Do you eat at the desk while taking calls and sending emails?  Stepping away can refresh your perspective, opening insights you would miss without a break.  In Men In Black III, they called it “letting the pie talk.”  Check that movie out for details.

Encourage and help someone.  Timely, positive words and assistance are the best way to stay checked in.  It is impossible to stay checked out while helping someone else.

Your employer needs you to stay checked in.  That’s when you are at your best, and when you are most valuable at work. 

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