A third of us are working with anxiety and stress

So you might be working in a big corporation. In a global conglomerate where you feel undervalued and underutilised. You might feel that whatever you do, whatever you contribute really doesn’t make much of a difference. But you still have to work long hours under incredible stress, without much creative and intellectual reward.

Perhaps then you have thought about working in a smaller business, where you might feel more appreciated, less stress and able to make a difference. A business which is light on its feet, responds quickly and is creative and adaptable. If so, be careful what you wish for because new research has revealed that staff working in small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are equally at risk to stress and burnout, with staff working an average of eight unpaid hours a week. That’s an average of a six-day working week for the price of five.

Of course, most of us have been there at some point. Leaders and creators of SME business,  know from time to time that different teams will need to go the extra mile, to be flexible and adaptable often and a moment’s notice.

Research reveals that the events that often result in an extended and unexpected working day are:

  •   Last minute request from client or customer (39 per cent)
  •   Last minute request from boss (37 per cent)
  •   Meetings overrunning at the end of the day (34 per cent)
  •   Keeping up with admin (32 per cent)
  •   Attending meetings at client or customer locations (24 per cent)
  •   Equipment or computers playing up (21 per cent)
  •   Manager’s poor time management (20 per cent)
  •   Their own poor time management (19 per cent)

From the list above, we can understand that there are circumstances that all SMEs have to deal with daily in order to meet client expectations and keep the business successful and profitable. So if you’re in a leadership role, make sure you are creating the conditions and environment that supports and is appreciative of that extra push and flexibility from your staff. We know productivity is allied to staff wellbeing, empowerment and happiness. As a leader, that should always be at the top of your project management plan. Then increased adaptability, energy  and foresight will grow naturally as part of the SME culture. It’s a win-win for you, your staff and the business.

If you don’t manage this way, the research also reveals that at least a third of your staff right at this moment are considering leaving or setting up in competition. For the smaller SME, this can be disastrous. Not only are you potentially losing your brightest and most motivated staff but you are also unwittingly planting seeds that will narrow your own market share. In my own profession of architecture, I have witnessed this first-hand many times.

So what’s to be done?

Simply, empower your managers to think more expansively about how to get things done.

It’s a challenge but managers can be a role model for wellbeing, creativity and happiness by  adopting process-orientated leadership rather than an outcome or product-orientated one.  When we limit ourselves to thinking about outcomes only, we miss the bigger picture. Instead of pressuring teams to respond to unpredictability and increased workloads, emphasis should all be placed on creating a culture of collaboration, thriving individuals, valued contributions; this results in a healthy and inspired work/life balance. Get the process right and the product  and output will look after itself; in fact you may even find that it improves.

Learn how to change the way you manage by learning the art and science of Modern Workplace Meditation.

If you’re keen to improve your staff’s wellbeing (including your own!), sign-up to our workplace meditation programmes.

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