People working in cargo logistics and transport are under more pressure right now than during any other period in the history of the industry. The pressure to perform on the job, and the feeling that we’ve always got to “be there” for the team and dare not “drop the ball,” creates stressors that can be counterproductive and troubling on multiple levels. That’s why it is crucial that to consider the many tried-and-true ways available to manage pressure at work during this high anxiety time.
COVID is placing huge internal pressures on workers, from the front line to the head office. Ironically this added stress is more likely to make us even less efficient in what we do. And keep in mind, stress is not always negative. At times, it may also bring out the best in individuals – by inducing us to discover innovative and smarter ways of doing things. This positive dimension of stress is referred to as “enstress.” But let’s face it, usually the term “stress” has a negative implication – and this negative aspect of stress is termed as distress.
So what is stress and how does it rear its often-ugly head? As described by Manufacturing & Logistics IT Magazine, “stress can be defined as a lively circumstance in which people face constraints, opportunities, or loss of something they desire and for which the consequence is both unpredictable as well as crucial. Stress is the response of people to the unreasonable/excessive pressure or demands placed on them.”
How Stress Manifests
Symptoms of stress in the workplace include:
- Absenteeism, escaping from work responsibilities, arriving late, leaving early, etc.
- Deterioration in work performance, more error prone work, memory loss, etc.
- Cribbing (nonstop complaining), overreacting, arguing, getting irritated, anxiety, etc.
- Deteriorating health, accidents, etc.
- Improper eating habits (overeating or undereating), excessive smoking and drinking, sleeplessness, etc.
It is thus essential to have effective stress management strategies in an organization so that the potentially detrimental repercussions on the employees as well as their performance can be minimized.
Individual Strategies for Managing Stress
It is generally understood that persistent worrying is not good for your mind or body. Therefore, it is important to be aware of stress at work and manage it efficiently. Consider these 16 anti-stress tips:
- While it may seem like everything coming at you must be addressed “right this minute,” it’s just not possible. Pay heed to basic time-management skills – take a moment to prioritize and do the most important things first. Then step back, reassess, and do the next most important thing.
- Make a “to-do” list daily, prioritize the acts on the list, and plan the acts accordingly. Achieving short-term targets in a timely fashion beats down work pressures and, thus, allows you to better avoid stress.
- Strive to achieve your longer-term goals but do not do it at the expense of family, health, or peers.
- Remember to take regular breaks to relax. And know that working through lunch makes you less effective in the afternoon, meaning you will achieve less overall.
- Listen more: The answers may be elusive, but are often right there in front of you – you just need to listen for them instead of arguing your point.
- Indulging in physical exercises helps in effective blood circulation, keeps you fit, and diverts mind from work pressures.
- Promote relaxation techniques such as yoga, listening to music, and meditation.
- Have plenty of water and actively engage in healthy eating habits. This takes planning, but it is so important.
- Encourage a healthy lifestyle and get more sleep: A well-rested body makes it easier to put proper perspective on your problems – and your client’s problems.
- Laughter is nature’s stress reliever. So crack jokes and try to laugh more. Having fun is a proven way to release stress.
- Also, engage in office banter – a bit of this throughout the day can actually create a better workplace overall.
- Strive to have an optimistic approach to your work. It helps to avoid connections with negative-approach employees.
- Another way is to cultivate close connections with trustworthy peers who can listen to your problems and boost your confidence. Such a social network will help you to overcome stress when and if it becomes acute.
- Employee counseling is a very good strategy to overcome stress. It allows you to become aware of your strengths and how to better develop those strengths; your weaknesses and how to eliminate them; and to develop strategies for changing your behavior.
- Do not remain pre-occupied with yourself. Turn your focus outwards. Help others. This is often a fail-safe way to release some stress.
- And keep in mind that, although predictions are that the problems facing the logistics industry may be here for the long haul, always remember this too shall pass.
Impact on “Deskless” Employees
While the pandemic has sometimes been a catalyst for some positive change across office-based industries, such as widespread acceptance of working-from-home and use of virtual meetings technology, not so much for employees outside traditional office settings – as in in many cases they are experiencing a higher prevalence of pressure-packed and stressful conditions.
That’s according to findings of an annual international State of the Deskless Workforce study exploring the attitudes and habits of non-office-based employees – everyone from truck drivers and warehouse operatives to care managers, cashiers, and restaurant staff.
Administered by Workforce Management Solutions provider Quinyx, their survey of 10,000 people in the Health and Social Care, Fashion, Transportation and Warehousing, Shipping & Distribution, Retail and Hospitality sectors shows that working conditions among “deskless” workers are being significantly negatively impacted by the continuation of COVID – as is their work performance.
Other key findings: A staggering 55 percent of the 1,500 respondents say they have gone to work when sick because they believe they can’t afford to stay home; and 53 percent didn’t attend social events and holiday celebrations, while nearly one-third missed major family and friend milestones – such as weddings, births and funerals – due to scheduled work or extra requests from their employer.
The same 16 steps above could certainly benefit those remote and/or “frontline” workers so that all employees within the overburdened logistics industry might achieve the job satisfaction that they so deserve.
Organizational Strategies for Managing Stress
Rule Number One: Put employees first. The pandemic and its impact on the workforce have reminded management teams that employees are not a cost item that can be optimized during a crisis. Instead, they are a major—if not the major—asset of an organization.
Since the beginning of the crisis, those companies that prioritized employee well-being and engagement during the pandemic sent a clear message to their workers and as a result-built loyalty.
- Encouraging more of organizational communication with the employees so that there is no role ambiguity/conflict.
- Effective communication can also change employee views. Managers can use better signs and symbols that are not misinterpreted by the employees.
- Encourage employee participation in decision-making. This will reduce role stress.
- Grant the employees greater independence, and meaningful and timely feedback.
- Remember that organizational goals should be realistic, stimulating, and particular. The employees must be given feedback on how well they are heading towards these goals.
- Appreciate the employees on accomplishing and over-exceeding their targets.
The Best of Times, The Worst of Times
These are interesting times to say the least. The growing demand for service in an ever-changing environment requires constant communications with clients to diffuse their angst and puts pressure on logistics employees to put their best face forward – while trying to manage a higher degree of personal and organizational pressure.
It was conventionally perceived that reasonable levels of stress would boost the employees and improve their work performance. But this perception no longer holds true. According to Management Study Guide, a certified education provider of tutorials for management students, today it is believed that even a little bit of stress will inhibit employees’ work performance.
And so, we must be cognizant of the realities that the new normal in the world of logistics presents. The price of continuous unmanaged pressure on employees is lost creativity and innovativeness – and these have long been the very hallmarks of success in this industry.