Monday, June 8, 2009

Keep job-related stress levels in check

By Hanah Cho • THE BALTIMORE SUN • June 8, 2009 Feeling stressed, overworked and burned out? You're certainly not alone these days. Layoffs and other work-force reductions have left so-called survivors with increased workloads and other challenges, according to a new survey of more than 4,400 workers by Nearly half of the workers said they have taken on more responsibility because of layoffs, and 37 percent said they are handling the work of two people. The survey also found that 34 percent of workers are spending more time at the office, and 22 percent are working more weekends. "Not only will this impact you personally, but this is something that's impacting productivity overall," says Jennifer Grasz, a spokeswoman at CareerBuilder. "When you have workers who are highly stressed and burned out, they're not going to be performing at the same level." So how do you remain sane and healthy amid the rising work demands? CareerBuilder, which is partly owned by Tribune Co., the parent of The Baltimore Sun, offers some tips on how to keep your stress level in check. • Take some time to recharge. Another CareerBuilder survey found that 35 percent of 4,400 workers surveyed said they haven't gone on or aren't planning to take a vacation this year. Nearly one in five workers said they either are afraid of losing their jobs if they do or feel guilty about being away. "Workers need to recharge," Grasz says. "It's counterproductive not to take the time off." Even if it's not a full-blown vacation, take a mental health day to take care of yourself. Or take a lunch break. • Prioritize your tasks. If you have more than one project to handle, talk to your supervisor about work expectations. Get feedback on what you should tackle first. That way, Grasz says, "it doesn't feel like 10 things have to get done in one day." • Cut the e-leash. That means when you're on vacation, don't check your e-mail or voice mail. "Something that you thought would take a few minutes took three hours of your day," Grasz says. "You need the time to get away from the office, recharge and bring the stress levels down so that when you come back, you could tackle projects more effectively." CareerBuilder also advises turning off electronic devices at a certain time of the day to signal the end of the workday. • Consider flexible work arrangements. Grasz says more employers are allowing telecommuting and compressed workweeks as options so that workers can better balance personal and work lives. • Try to ignore rumors. It's easier said than done as workers become increasingly worry about their job security. But getting caught up with gossip can also distract you from work. If your concerns are serious, talk to your supervisor or human resources. Otherwise, "it's more important to stay focused on being effective in the things you're working on," Grasz said. "It's also going to serve you within the organization if you're known to be someone who's working hard."

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