Stress in our workplace.
In my travels and discussions with my peers and colleagues, the one thing that is glaringly obvious, is that most of us are finding it more stressful in our industry than we did, say, 5 years ago.
But, the online agency helpguide,org is a great help if we are feeling a bit overwhelmed. It agrees 'the bills aren’t going to stop coming, there will never be more hours in the day for all your errands, and your career or family responsibilities will always be demanding.' But it points out that we 'have a lot more control than you might think. In fact, the simple realization that you’re in control of your life is the foundation of stress management.'
The authors go on to say 'Managing stress is all about taking charge: taking charge of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, your environment, and the way you deal with problems. The ultimate goal is a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun – plus the resilience to hold up under pressure and meet challenges head on.'
Running a business today, and the wide format industry is no different, is balancing everything from new technology and the associated upgrade path and expense that goes with it, competing with our opposition who, in some cases have little or no ethics, and keeping staff happy so they don't move on once we have them trained.
Then of course you have to deal with the Government agencies that, for the most part, are convinced we are making a fortune and are not paying enough tax. In Australia, the Tax Department clearly hold the view, guilty until proven innocent.
Tax audits, and I have had several, can be the most stressful things to go through. My first audit was from a pimply faced accountant who had gone straight from university to the Australian Tax Office. Did he have any practical experience in running a service industry? No. Did he have any idea how difficult it is to compete in a market such as ours? No.
One thing he did know was the very real power that he had at his disposal should he take a dislike to me or my business methods.
But I digress.
The authors go on to say that 'stress management starts with identifying the sources of stress in your life. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. Your true sources of stress aren’t always obvious, and it’s all too easy to overlook your own stress-inducing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Sure, you may know that you’re constantly worried about work deadlines. But maybe it’s your procrastination, rather than the actual job demands, that leads to deadline stress.
To identify your true sources of stress, look closely at your habits, attitude, and excuses:
Not surprising either I guess. We've just had a major global financial crisis presented to us, with the direction and outcome totally outside our control. No matter who we are, that alone is a major stressor.
Of course another stressor is the thought that there’s nothing you can do about our stress level. It goes with the territory is a phrase you hear a lot. I've said it myself.
Do you explain away stress as temporary (“I just have a million things going on right now”) even though you can’t remember the last time you took a breather?
Do you define stress as an integral part of your work or home life (“Things are always crazy around here”) or as a part of your personality (“I have a lot of nervous energy, that’s all”).
Do you blame your stress on other people or outside events, or view it as entirely normal and unexceptional?
Until you accept responsibility for the role you play in creating or maintaining it, your stress level will remain outside your control.'
I'm sure you'd agree that it is all good advice, and something that each of us should take seriously.
I've been through the cycle of employing staff, using contractors, cash flow issues, bad debts, over zealous government departments and so forth.
For me, I'd love to go back to the time when a handshake was as good as your word, a promise was a promise, bank managers were someone you respected, wholesalers worked hard to get your buisness and loyalty was admired.
I'm fortunate enough to still have many clients that are of like mind. But the stress today in employing staff, most of whom think you owe them a living, WPH&S requirements that ultimately hold the business responsible no matter who is at fault, and the various tax laws that penalize the honest businesses for making an honest profit, makes one think about buying a kombi and living stress free in a commune with no computers, no power and no running water.
On second thought. That would only raise the stress levels higher. I love a long hot shower, almost as much as I love the wife's cappuccino machine, and how would I read Wide Format Online, and watch my favourite 70's & 80's comedians on youtube in such an environment? :)