Time to front reality
We need to be honest about stress at work, reports Ben Pike
SENIOR executives’ productivity, wellbeing and career longevity is being compromised by their unwillingness to confront personal issues head-on.
Struggling under the strain of competing financial, family, time and social pressures, senior staff are too quick to dismiss legitimate personal issues for fear of appearing weak among their team or other executives, according to executive coach Karen Barker.
While this stoic attitude is effective in the short-term, Barker says this will ultimately result in burnout if the issues are not addressed.
‘‘ So many high achievers think they can do it on their own,’’ she says.
‘‘ Marriage, divorce, health and kids; those senior executives who are responsible for large teams and pretty big chunks of the business are finding themselves limping along and needing to veil that. They’re quite fearful of being judged unkindly.
‘‘ I’ve been in the coaching space for four years. I’m seeing more of it in the last couple of years than even when I first started in coaching.’’
The highest rates of mental stress claims in Australia are by workers with high levels of responsibility for the wellbeing and safety of others or workers at risk in dangerous situations.
The Safe Work Australia report, released in April, also finds mental stress costs Australian businesses more than $10 billion a year.
Barker says the rise in stress among executive staff is driven by increased workloads, allpervasive technology and the retirement of experienced, managerial baby boomers.
She advises senior staff not to fear asking for more resources at work if they are needed. They should also talk to someone removed from personal or family issues and, if stress starts affecting their work or health, consult a GP.
‘‘ The age in the top-tier level is younger and they haven’t got the wrinkles and haven’t been around the block as many times,’’ she says.
‘‘ They don’t have this life skill yet, don’t have the confidence yet and don’t own the space like they will in five or 10 years’ time.
‘‘ Some organisations are shutting down servers for up to nine hours to give executives (rest from) emails.’’