Stress is all too common a reality in the workplace

In the modern workplace today, we are merging jobs into one in order to save money without taking into account the behavioural demands of each of the jobs. A good example of this is that of a receptionist or service advisor in a car dealership where they are required to undertake administrative roles keeping accurate and precise details as well as communicating effectively with customers and intangible solutions for their car. Behaviourally these qualities are at opposite ends of the scale requiring massive adaption from the employee. Which is why the motor industry suffers from high staff turnover and poor levels of customer service (so much so that there is a super complaint currently against the motor industry).

When you are called upon to adapt your behaviour to match that needed of a particular situation your body gets ready for action, and this means that adrenaline is released into your bloodstream for a short period of time in order to prepare you for fight or flight. As the levels of adrenaline in your blood stream start to decrease, the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) increase. Adrenaline is broken down and leaves the bloodstream quickly, however cortisol is long term. Not only does cortisol create stress and depression, it is also linked to many mental and physical health problems. In other words, people can adapt their behaviour for instant change quite safely, but long term adaption is dangerous.

For those of us who have interviewed a person for a job role and taken a gut feeling after a twenty minute meeting that they have all the qualifications and experience, it’s when they start that the problems surface quickly. The costs estimated for employing a new member of staff is currently five times their annual salary, this includes the price of the advertisement, time sifting through CSV’s, time on interviews, time training and the lost time of the person carrying out the training. And you may then find after 3 months you have to start again as they don’t fit in, they struggle carrying out certain tasks or they spend their time talking. People are always hired for their qualifications and fired for their behaviour.

We all want people who work well alone, together, in teams, are customer-focused, sales-focused, detail-focused, can multi-task, do one task at a time, stick to the rules, bend the rules and so on. These are completely different behaviours. To move from one to the other is where the stress can start to show.

To move to a deeper level, when we are born the slate is clean. As we grow we take on the values and influences of the people around us, our parents, television, school teachers and friends, most of our values are gained by the age of seven. We then carry these through life. It takes seven generations on average to change a family value. Even identical twins that have the same DNA will have different values, as they have different life experiences. How many times have you had a value issue in your workplace? This being why people do what they do. To cross these is a big stress builder which shows instantly in their behaviour. Now imagine interviewing identical twins for a single job role, both with the correct qualifications, and making a decision.

Let’s now throw into the equation the brain, this is the most complicated computer there is or ever likely to be. And guess what, everybody’s is programmed differently. How one employee analyzes and interprets their experiences is different to the next one. How they react in any given situation could be a lottery. No wonder employing people is so difficult.

If you could understand how people’s minds analyze and interpret their experiences, what makes them get out of bed in the morning, what really motivates them, who is your real leader and why is this employee so difficult to manage, why they behave the way they do, how to talk to and motivate them, and more importantly how not to talk to them and de-motivate them, wouldn’t this make your lives so much easier? This knowledge and much more is available now. Why not use it!

If adding to your bottom line profit is important, why wait?

By Mark Henly CPBA, CPVA, PTSI
Behavioural Analyst

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