Stress in the Caribbean? A place with lots of sun, beautiful beaches, great music and a very relaxed lifestyle? Absolutely, as stress is universal. No matter where in the world you are, stress is an integral part of life. The impact of stress on workers and the best ways of overcoming it were examined during a meeting of the Caribbean Branch of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH). I was invited to present and explain the short and long-term effects of stress. Stress in the workplace is indeed a worldwide issue and it is crucial for individuals to recognize the signs of stress in themselves and their colleagues. Stressors of course can be different. The relaxed time management, or perhaps I should say, the absence of time management in Trinidad may be relaxed for some people, but certainly can be a stressor and a cause of frustration for others. One person’s pleasure is often another person’s stress!
We all know that stress, including work-related stress can be a significant cause of illness and is known to be linked with high levels of sickness absence, staff turnover and other issues such as more errors which could lead to accidents. Stress can hit anyone at any level of a business and recent research shows that work-related stress is widespread and is not confined to particular sectors, jobs, industry or part of the world! Spotting early signs of stress, and having done so, using the wide variety of techniques and support available to assist workers suffering from stress is important everywhere. Organizations which are successful in dealing with stress demonstrate proactive strategies. These include providing coaching and mindfulness sessions, providing preventative strategies before a problem occurs, and building engagement and maintaining support.
Let’s not forget the importance of the role of managers. First of all, managers can be a major cause of work-related stress. Their leadership style, the demands and pressure they put on people to perform, to meet deadlines and achieve targets can contribute significantly to high stress levels with workers. The question is whether they are conscious of the effects of their management behavior on other people? Here the one person’s pleasure is the other persons stress does count. But as a manager you do not talk about stress. It is part of the job, part of your life as manager and admitting to stress can be seen as weakness. How many managers do go to a training, seminar or conference on stress management? Very few in my experience as mainly HR and Health & Safety professionals tend to go to these events. It would be good for managers all around the world to have a good level of understanding in their personal toolbox to recognize early signs of stress, to understand how they can cause stress with others and how they can prevent stress for themselves. In Trinidad the audience was health and safety professionals. In future, I do hope to welcome many more managers as well!