Tech Stress Triggers and Solutions: Stress Awareness Month
Whether you’re working at a large tech company or a start-up, stress is probably a regular part of your life. April is Stress Awareness Month so let’s take a look at some typical stress triggers from both large tech companies and smaller start-ups. Each situation can have different stress triggers, but we’ll take a look at some common solutions to help the day go a little smoother, regardless of where you work.
Stress Triggers at Large Tech Companies
Cog in a machine
If you work for a large tech company, it’s easy to find yourself feeling like you are just a small piece of a much bigger machine. Teams of developers and other departments can range from five to fifty or more, all working on the same thing, which can make it hard to stand out. When you are responsible for a high volume of smaller repetitive tasks, getting noticed becomes more and more difficult.
Whatever your skill level, you will become stressed in these environments. Working all day without feeling accomplished can leave you feeling like you can’t make a difference regardless of how hard you work.
Competition in the tech industry is incredibly high. Combine that with being a member of a large team of people, and you can find yourself doing excellent work for little to no recognition. Without the proper management, it’s easy to feel like your work is constantly going unrecognized. With 72 percent of employees self-identifying as “disengaged,” it’s incredibly important to listen to why that is. Factors like lack of recognition and loss of passion for the work are the main reasons people feel disengaged. When you’re no longer passionate about your work, your productivity goes down. This elevates your stress levels, and the stress levels of management when trying to hit deliverable deadlines.
While the devices we carry can keep us connected to our friends and family, they also allow employers to stay connected with us at any time. If we receive just one or two emails outside of work hours, we will develop a sense of “always on.” It’s intimidating to try and tell your manager/boss to not do something, e.g., email outside of work hours, so most of us let it happen, and the stress begins to pile up.
Stress Triggers at Small Tech Startups
Too many responsibilities
If you work for a startup, some roles and responsibilities can go un-assigned for years. You end up responsible for things you were not hired for or have no training on. You might be hired to write the code and also be responsible for HR and hiring new people. Being challenged at work is one thing, but needing to do your job, plus learn how to perform additional tasks is over the top, causing high levels of stress.
Working for a startup can be incredibly invigorating when the company is successful. Your team is all working towards a unified vision, and everyone feels great. However, when the future of the company is uncertain, anxiety will dominate the environment. You can be unsure if the company will get the next round of funding needed to stay afloat. There might be rumors of a total reorganization of the company which could leave certain people in roles they don’t want or even out of a job. All of this uncertainty can lead to incredibly high levels of stress.
24-hour availability – again!
24-hour availability is one of the biggest stress triggers shared by both large and small businesses in the tech space. When you are responsible for 2 or more jobs, there is not enough time in the regular 9-5 to get everything done. You have to start working earlier and staying later to make sure everything gets done.
If there is a crisis moment in a start-up or small business, there are fewer people who know what to do. Executives will start calling and emailing in all hours of the night to get things patched up. Just like in a large businesses setting, every time you work into the night, the next day feels like you never left and the job feels like it has no end. If your brain never feels accomplished, stress starts to set in, and production will suffer.
Ways to Deal with Stress at Work
Creating boundaries can be difficult to do if you are not at the executive or management level, but it’s essential. Set personal limits for yourself that start at certain times. A great example would be something like “After 6 pm I stop reading work emails.” Set up your out of office message to kick in every night at a specific time, letting colleagues and customers know that you are unavailable, but will get to their message in the morning. Communicate these boundaries with your superiors as well. Respectable leaders will appreciate an employee who is upfront about their boundaries and sticks to them.
Track your stressors
Tracking your stressors may sound simple, but it is incredibly important to try and understand what causes your stress at work. Make notes on your computer, email yourself, or even keep a journal. Write down what stressed you out and, how you reacted. One cannot begin to manage stress without first understanding what triggers your stress. If it’s possible, avoid these situations in the future.
Focus on nutrition and health
Sometimes we just need to get up and move. When stress is impacting our brains, our bodies respond by being tired and unfocused. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Scientists have found that regular exercise can decrease levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep and self-esteem. If we are more energized and confident going into work, we will accomplish more, reducing stress!
Organize and Prioritize
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Dealing with stress in the fast-moving tech world can be as easy as getting organized, and sticking to it. One of the keys to getting there is to manage expectations. Stress about deliverables and deadlines can be avoided with upfront conversations about what people can expect from you.
Regardless of what your stress triggers are at work, try some of these solutions to reduce their impact on your life. What other ways do you reduce stress from work? Let us know in the comments below.
Stress Management Quick Tips:
- Create boundaries – You need to make sure you aren’t “always on”!
- Track your stressors – Be aware of what’s is stressing you out, then develop a plan
- Focus on nutrition and health – Get moving! Healthy bodies are happier bodies
- Organize and Prioritize – Take inventory of your work – set realistic deadlines and deliver