Leaders at work may seem to have everything figured out, but it is actually more stressful at the top than one perceives. There are so many articles online that educate employees on how to cope with stress at work, what employers should do to foster a stress-free work environment, how to cope with stressful bosses and so on. But what about the employers? How should they deal with workplace stress? Who do they talk to when they are depressed? Essentially, who watches the watchman?
“Management and leadership are not innate skills; they’re learned,” – Lauren Laitin.
It must be noted that it’s not just Chief Executives who feel the heat. A 2015 study suggests that folks in the middle of any hierarchy seem to have higher rates of anxiety and depression than those at the top or the bottom.
Employees who do not have supervisory roles have to deal with expectations from their superiors, but for most bosses, it’s a two-way pull. They are almost always subordinates, whether it’s to someone higher up the organizational ladder or — in the case of CEOs, entrepreneurs, and small-business owners, they also report to customers, stockholders, a business partner, or a board of directors. A boss’ challenges exceed common workplace stressors. They deal with scarcity of jobs, sacrificing personal relationships for professional success and its potential effects. Bosses have to deal with demands from those below and above them. But once they get the skill of management under their belt, the question is “what next?”
An employer needs to make sure that employees or those they superintend over have the resources they need to get their projects done, sometimes within time and budget constraints that can seem uninformed at best.
Paying workers’ salaries on time at the end of the month also induces a lot of stress for employers. Most employees are oblivious to the state of the company’s finances. During times where business is slow, employers have to bear the cost of payment of salaries and make employees happy even in their distress.
Weathering the storm in the economy of their country of operation, in order to keep businesses running, is another daunting deal for employers. In Ghana, for instance, most companies have folded up due to lack of business opportunities, income and the general economic status of the country. This has contributed to some business owners being depressed and as such resulted to those who lost their life’s work, others who are at the precipice of losing their companies and are also on high alert as well as those who are fortunately still in business but are on the verge of anxiety about future uncertainties. Uncontrolled fear of failure leads to depression and other mental health problems for these employers.
When employees do not meet deadlines or are unable to reach set targets for the month, it causes a lot of worry for their superiors, especially when so much time, money and other resources have been invested and little or no result is yielded. Many a time this emanates from lack of motivation, employees falling behind on the company’s vision and in most cases, employees’ negative attitude towards work such as: lateness, indifference, absenteeism among others which affect work output. The onus lies on the employer to ensure that all facets of the company work well in a coordinative manner and on time, which could be strenuous.
The hassle that comes with being a boss is real. While they work to keep the workplace in tune and make sure everyone is happy, necessary checks must be put in place to ensure there are proper communication channels as well as cultivate healthy relationships with colleagues, clients and business partners.
Some clients do not deliver as promised and this can be difficult to deal with, yet bosses have to develop the acumen to tactfully manage and handle such clients for future business relations.
Staying ahead of the competition
The days of monopoly are over. Every business has at least one or more competitors who are always planning and strategizing to become or remain market leaders. Whereas some employees may have the luxury to rest after work, most managers indulge in rigorous planning on how to stay ahead of their competitors, build and maintain client relationships and in some cases poach clients from their competition.
Taking care of workers' needs and maintaining a healthy and decorous environment for people with different backgrounds and personalities can be very stressful. As a boss, ensuring that there is peace, harmony, and discipline can be a herculean task. Even when these are not achieved, the boss must ensure some form of teamwork and coordination among workers to help push the vision of the company forward. Lack of unity and teamwork could ruin the future of the company.
Analyzing the various factors that result in high stress levels among employers show that there are some ramifications that come with work-related stress. Although stress is inevitable in everyday life, extreme stress levels have been linked to a host of health hazards, either physically or psychologically.
Distraction or the inability to focus, headache, irritability, and changes in sleep patterns are just a few of the symptoms. It gets more treacherous than that. "When people experience stress, they often stop doing some of the healthy coping strategies that usually help keep their mood on track," Alice Boyes. Stress has an effect of ruining a person’s mood, which leads to abandoning activities and practices that help regulate mood, which consequently create more mood-related problems. Skipping normal coping mechanisms can lead to adopting unhealthy ones, like drinking or substance abuse, or getting into arguments at the drop of a hat just to let off some steam. Those things, in turn, can put a strain on relationships. Stress has been linked to health problems like high blood pressure, and those who turn to stress-eating as a coping mechanism may also be inviting increased risk of heart diseases due to large intake of sugary and fatty foods, for instance.
According to research conducted by Harvard Medical School, women in stressful roles may also be faced with higher rates of fertility problems that could spiral into a frustrating, potentially devastating infertility cycle. Even without physical symptoms, chronic stress could lead to psychological conditions like depression and, if left long enough, burnout. In some situations, work-life overshadow their personal lives which strains their personal and social life. All too often, most stressed bosses notice they are separating from their norms. “Work-related issues aren’t the only factors that drive personal problems, but certainly people feel like it’s hurting their ability to be there for others,” said McLeod.
What then can be done to help the “watchmen?” It may be time to brainstorm solutions. Everyone experiences stress, and prolonged stress can have very real physical and emotional effects on one’s health. How one chooses to deal with stress often makes the difference between lemons and lemonade.
A support group may be necessary, most bosses do not feel secured opening up about their problems especially to their employees, which is why talking to people of their rank or above them about their problems could help, whether they are in the same company or not.
Get a trusted confidant to talk to. It is best to have that one friend or partner who understands. Such people are able to tell when one is entering a bad place in their lives and can help pull them out. They can offer a listening ear and a shoulder to lean on when times are hard.
Bosses can sit with their teammates and manager(s) to work through ways to improve a process or situation that could end up benefiting not just them, but the entire team and internal relationships as well.
As part of stress-management tips, one can take more action-friendly steps like keeping their to-do list short, taking one thing at a time, and asking instead of guessing. One can also take a step back, take a deep breath and reflect on what they can do to improve their daily routine.
Employees can also help their employers by exhibiting the highest standard of discipline at work, and meeting targets and deadlines. When the boss is doing an awesome job despite the unique pressures they face, the staff should take a minute to acknowledge their effort. Boss’ Day initiative can be taken by the company from time to time just to say “thank you”.
No matter where and the rank one finds themselves, remember that taking care of your mental health is the smartest decision you could ever make for your life. “Health does not always come from medicine. Most of the time. It comes from peace of mind, peace in the heart, peace in the soul. It comes from laughter and love.” – HealthyPlace.com