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How Stress Affects Your Professional Development

We’ve all dealt with stress in the workplace in different capacities. It’s been more prominent than ever over the last couple of years, thanks to the new challenges we’ve been presented with as a result of the pandemic. Stress is normal and sometimes inevitable but can be debilitating on work performance and professional development, especially in these 3 ways.

It Leads to Decreased Productivity

When stress becomes chronic, naturally, employees will be less engaged. A stressed-out worker can’t fully show up if they aren’t 100% focused on work when they are at work. This creates a trickle-down effect that impacts productivity, especially if the stress leads to burnout. Recently, employees reported burnout as their number one concern. And unfortunately, with burnout comes turnover, creating a negative financial impact on an organization on top of a less-than-ideal work environment.

Stress can be a vicious cycle riddled with anxiety and depression. When you feel the stress impacting your work performance, the concern over your future becomes overwhelming. This is especially true on the days when stress is more palpable than others. And stress impacts how effective work is because 50% of employees said stress and anxiety most often affect their quality of work.

It Leads to Internal Conflict

Think of the person you are when you’re stressed out. Are you short with others? Does your focus waver? Now, think of how it feels to be around a person who is stressed out. Do you walk on eggshells? Do you try to avoid them altogether? The stress that one employee feels can impact so many people around them. This is because the emotional toll that stress takes on everyone is different. For some, it’s debilitating. For others, it’s manageable. Either way, conflict in the workplace caused by stress destroys collaboration and wastes what could be productive time.

It Leads to Nonexistent Time Management Skills

Productive people can focus on the task at hand. So, when someone is stressed, their time management skills are compromised because they might find it difficult to concentrate. As a result, they struggle to meet deadlines. If the stress results from an overwhelmed feeling at work, employees might panic as a deadline gets closer if they feel like they don’t have enough time to complete the necessary work. The stress of being unable to manage time efficiently will only add to anxiety and any underlying resentment an employee feels towards a company.

As a hiring manager, would you want to bring someone on who lacked time management skills, wasn’t productive, or caused conflict in the workplace? Of course not. However, some of those qualities aren’t noticed right away and can develop over time with the intrusion of stress.

So, what can leadership do to ensure that stress in the workplace is kept to a minimum?

Enforce Thoughtful Benefits

Think of the benefits you have in place that support mental health initiatives, overall wellness, and job stress. For example, do you encourage physical activity by reimbursing employees a certain amount of their gym or fitness membership? What about encouraging employees to take breaks from work since it’s proven to reduce stress levels? Do you have a designated break area or meditation room that allows employees to step away from their workload?

Sometimes employees avoid breaks because of the stigma that taking breaks is for lazy people or those who don’t put in their best effort. Instead, taking breaks at work, especially lunch breaks, should be supported because of the positive impact they have on the overall employee.

Stress affects so many aspects of our lives, including our careers. How has stress impacted your professional development? Join the conversation on LinkedIn and check out Why Bosses and Job Seekers Need Integrity.