This column is part of Globe Careers' Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab
Few of us would argue that stress is one of the biggest causes of health issues, from the flu to a massive heart attack and many illnesses inbetween. Those who work are more susceptible to work-related stress and are, therefore, more likely to find themselves at greater risk .
The company you work for is not going to take care of you or make sure you have a balanced, or what is now called an "integrated" life. We need to become our own No. 1 priority. No, you actually can't work long hours endlessly. No, it's not okay that you arrive at work at 7 and don't leave until 7 or 8 p.m. most days. No, you can't be "on" throughout the weekends, checking your e-mail constantly. No, you really can't work without a break, without a long vacation and without replenishing your tank.
According to an article titled "You're Stressing Me Out" in the March issue of Chief Learning Officer magazine, employees state the top causes of work stress are inadequate staffing, low pay or low-pay increases and unclear job expectations.
It's not that I disagree with this list, but after two decades of coaching top and emerging leaders in corporations, my list of the biggest causes of work stress would be slightly different.
Top 3 causes of work stress
1. I hate my boss
When asked why they are considering leaving their job, most people indicate it's because their boss micromanages or underappreciates them. Having a boss that you are not aligned with can be stressful. If you are the boss, make sure you spend time with your people. Meet with them one-on-one to tell them specifically what it is you appreciate about their work and ask how you can support them more. I guarantee that asking these two things alone will increase employee engagement, happiness and productivity. One of my clients told me the other day that his boss second guesses and recrafts everything he submits to her. He feels like she doesn't think anything he does is good enough. He can't take it anymore and has started looking for a new job. If you don't like your boss, don't try and change them or wait them out: Go get a new one.
2. I hate the culture
The No. 1 productivity issue reported by 86 per cent of corporations is lack of employee engagement. You have to "fit" in the culture in which you work to be happy, satisfied and productive. That environment also has to match up with your morals and values. I have a client who just left her executive vice-president job because the CEO did something she considered immoral and, most likely, illegal. When she tried to talk him out of it, he told her she wasn't a team player. She decided he was right, and quit. The stress this situation put on her was immeasurable . It was ultimately best for her health to quit.
3. I feel undervalued and not able to make the kind of contribution I'd like
Most of us want to feel appreciated and know that we are making a difference. This is true at work as well as at home. People either work because they love their job or because it is an end to a means (ultimately giving them the ability to do what they want). It's not only about what you can accomplish for your organization, it's also about how, and about doing work that matters.
Making sure employees feel valued will go a long way in increasing their happiness and productivity. Become the kind of manager that creates an organization where people love their work and their place of work. Make it mandatory to create white space (time-outs) in every day, boundaries around weekend e-mailing and time every day to meditate and exercise. Creativity will flourish, health issues will decrease, and mind, body and spirits will be rejuvenated.
My dad ran a leather tannery with my grandfather many years ago. He once told me, "It's not the product that makes our company successful, honey; it's the people. If you are good to your people, they will be good to you." Be good to yourself. Be good to your people. Start now. Your health will thank you for it.
Wendy Capland (@WendyCapland) is CEO and founder of Vision Quest Consulting, internationally recognized leadership development expert and best-selling author of the book Your Next Bold Move for Women.