The Right to Say “No” in Your Career

We are gradually emerging from a period of high unemployment and back into a season of turmoil, where neither employers nor employees expect to stay in one job for their entire life. In fact, some hiring managers view one-job candidates with skepticism, believing they lack flexibility and are too wedded to a single culture and practice.

And all that urging to push the envelope, develop one’s brand, move with the times, exceed expectations creates stress. Have we lost the right to say NO?

No, we do not want that promotion into a job that requires more of our time and energy. No, we do not want to take on yet another special project that interferes with our main tasks. No, we do not want to shift into another department where we lack expertise. No, we are not interested in more education, another company “initiative” that goes nowhere or becoming either a mentor or mentee.

The downside for companies who insist on a YES is an employee who is not only working below (or against) potential but is very likely to quit to escape an unwelcome situation; and replacing employees is costly. Yet, the situation might work for both parties with the proper support and training–with steps similar to those we suggested in a previous post.

Has NO become an impossible word in your work life?

What do you recommend to address or avoid the resulting stress?

Tell your story here or on LinkedIn at Let’s Talk Health Care.

Disclosure: I’ve partnered with Harvard Pilgrim on this sponsored post. However, the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. You can find more ways to be well at HarvardPilgrim.org/CountUsIn and Let’s Talk Health Care.

Workplace Stress: Where It Comes From/Where It’s Going

Cartoonist Matt Groening’s book Work Is Hell dates from 1985; but his list of what makes a job really really bad resonates today, nearly 30 years later. His sources of stress include work overload or underload, time pressures, insecurity about the job, malicious or unfriendly co-workers, boredom, unpleasant bosses, hopelessness, cynicism and physical problems (like back ache). The Work Is Hell philosophy is that we keep in these situations either because misery loves company or because companies love misery.

Companies are trying to prove they don’t love misery. Many of them are emphasizing employee engagement, sending managers to leadership training, investigating flex-time, trying to address work/life balance and watching out for bullying, as well as providing employees with more information about health and more access to gyms and healthy snacks.

Is any of that helping? Is the problem even capable of solution? Does the amount of stress you feel on the job depend on where your job falls in the corporate pyramid, on outside factors like the overall economy or on your own day-by-day state of mind?

Leave your comments here or join the discussion on LinkedIn at Let’s Talk Health Care.

Disclosure: I’ve partnered with Harvard Pilgrim on this sponsored post. However, the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. You can find more ways to be well at HarvardPilgrim.org/CountUsIn and Let’s Talk Health Care.

 

How Women’s Health Differs from Men’s Health in the Workplace

We all know that on average women live longer than men. We all know that women and men have different incidences of certain diseases or conditions–for example, men are more likely to be color blind. But when we think of health differences that uniquely affect women in the workplace, most of us would automatically mention “pregnancy” and quit.

However, according to various studies from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the Society for Women’s Health Research and other organizations, women are also more prone to many other conditions at work, including repetitive strain disorders (such as carpel tunnel syndrome), respiratory diseases, anxiety and stress. Part of the difference reflects the fact that many more women than men hold insecure part-time, temporary or contingent jobs. Fear over losing their jobs may make women less willing to speak up about conditions leading to workplace injuries, diseases or stress.

In addition, male bosses may be less responsive to the complaints of female workers simply because the male bosses aren’t as affected by those conditions.

Have you noticed a difference at work in the health concerns of men and women? Should companies be addressing this difference? Let us know what you think at Let’s Talk Health Care.

Disclosure: I’ve partnered with Harvard Pilgrim on this sponsored post. However, the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. You can find more ways to be well at HarvardPilgrim.org/CountUsIn and Let’s Talk Health Care.

Keeping Morale Up during Down Times

The effect of a layoff on the surviving company’s staff can hobble a company for months: low morale, loss of trust and higher stress as fewer people handle more work, not to mention the loss of intellectual property and years of experience.

One of the few low points in my own corporate career occurred after a layoff when a manager assured those of us who remained that we were “the best of the best.” I suppose he intended to compliment us, but his comment felt like a slur against our friends and coworkers who had just lost their jobs.

Employees who are adjusting to a layoff may need time to mourn the loss of colleagues; training to take on different tasks; a re-evaluation of goals, expectations and timelines; and one-on-one time to honestly talk through the effects of the change.

What policies does your company follow to ease the effects of a layoff? Leave your comments here or join the discussion on LinkedIn at Let’s Talk Health Care.

Disclosure: I’ve partnered with Harvard Pilgrim on this sponsored post. However, the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. You can find more ways to be well at HarvardPilgrim.org/CountUsIn and Let’s Talk Health Care