WMA Headlines October 2021

October 8th, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs

The ‘Stress Factor’: Is This the New Normal? If So, How Do We Cope?

By Rosalie Leone

If this pandemic has taught us anything, it might be how things can change in an instant, and how the world we thought we knew and understood can turn upside down, shaking us out of our comfort zones. Almost two years into this new reality (that we’re still trying to wrap our heads around) challenges persist—including for how we keep things afloat at home and at work, as well as within our interpersonal relationships. Ramifications have surfaced these past 20 months due to restrictions, shutdowns, government stimulus and unemployment benefits, and a cautious reopening of society. For some companies, this included brief shutdowns, rapid reorganization, then sudden reopening complicated by backlogs of product demand. And it’s far from over.

In a post-pandemic era, we must learn how to handle the immediate vacuum in our labor force that has worsened, despite the fact business couldn’t be better. As managers wear multiple hats in the workplace, it seems that all one can do is put out fires by multitasking, problem solving and picking up the slack to get things done. Meanwhile, business owners and managers are dedicated to building their customer bases, fostering existing business relationships, and managing daily operations and personnel, while keeping their companies profitable.

It’s a lot to bear.

The Harsh Reality

Burnout is a real thing, and it afflicts millions of people each year. The danger here lies in part with those left behind, who must fill voids, as the pandemic has presented challenges for those at all levels of company structure. New research finds that burnout and stress were among the top reasons employees say they will look for a new job in the next year. How bad is it? According to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Labor, more people are leaving their jobs right now than have in the last 20 years. The pandemic has been especially challenging for leaders who have had to guide their teams emotionally and professionally through the effects of the last year while also addressing their own workloads.

So how can we handle this new normal?

In a survey, People Matters asked senior business leaders from a variety of industries how they have kept themselves stable and centered amid the uncertainty. Five of the more popular and effective stress management methods used by business leaders were in-line with other suggested practices dealing with burnout and work-related stress:

1. Delegate work appropriately and narrow your focus.
2. Maintain a healthy work-life balance.
3. Decide to make yourself a priority and keep a physical fitness routine.
4. Engage in quiet, calming activities, such as reading.
5. Build a support system and talk to others.

The fifth management method, building a support system and talking to others, helps us to discuss business issues and challenges with those in similar positions who can offer insight and solutions to the problems we’re most concerned about. Reaching out to your peers through a trade association provides you with an opportunity to network with other individuals within your industry who can share their knowledge and experiences. Some of the most valuable advice comes from those who have walked in the same shoes as you.

In the meantime, it’s vitally important to make every effort to invest time into self-care, ensuring that the workplace environment and culture is one that promotes health and well-being. Remember, managing the stress not only benefits you, but those you lead.

Rosalie Leone is president and CEO of WMA.
rleone@worldmillworkalliance.com

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

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