5 top tips to managing stress at work using a psychodynamic approach

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5 top tips to managing stress at work using a psychodynamic approach

Are you spending a sizable chunk of your HR budget on individual interventions when staff show symptoms of stress?

Sometimes it’s helpful – and essential – for people suffering from stress to be offered individual support. But sometimes this is just not enough – the problem doesn’t go away or the individual leaves their job only for another team member to start suffering.  It’s all repetitive, costly and draining.

We need to think smarter – if we keep just focusing on individual solutions to stress in the workplace we will get the same results.  Stress is now the biggest cause of long-term sickness absence among all workers – surely we need to change our thinking?

Here are our 5 top tips

1.    It’s not just me – thinking systemically
When someone is stressed, it’s easy to diagnose it as an individual issue - connected to part of his or her personality, resilience and emotional makeup.  However, the stress is usually the symptom of a much wider issue that shows up in one person. You need to understand this complexity a bit more to really act effectively.


2.    Taking one for the team – how group dynamics can lead to individual stress
Most of us are part of a team or group and the complex dynamics at play, particularly under pressure, can mean that one person ends up being the ‘stressed’ or ‘difficult’ one.  But it’s the team dynamics that need to be looked at. 


3.    The organisation in the mind – what are employees bringing?
We often assume individuals think of organisations in the same way – but they don’t.  The ‘organisation in the mind’ relates to the emotional expectations and experience that people have of organisations (often rooted in early experiences).  We use this concept to understand the different needs people have from their work, which if not met can often lead to stress. 


4.    Remember the task
Stress often shows up in similar ways, but in our work we find that the task of the organisation – what it is there to do - has a big impact on the nature of the stress someone is suffering.  Some recent clients have been a prison director, a HR manager at a beauty products company, a palliative care nurse and a financial services company. It’s knowing what it is about the organisation’s task that is getting ‘into’ our clients that helps us support individuals in depth.


5.    The importance of boundaries
In addition, clients who are referred to us for stress often have trouble with boundaries in four main areas – task (what they do), territory (where they do it), role (their specific contribution) and time.  Simply looking at these and helping them understand more can really help. 


You’re invited to learn more

With a long history of working with organisations, using a systems psychodynamic approach,  Tavistock Consulting can help you to understand the complexities of the issues involved and reach solutions that will benefit the individuals – as well as the organisation as a whole.

Read our blog article: “It’s not just me” – tackling stress as an organisational issue and for a no-obligation, confidential conversation on tackling stress within your organisation please contact: [email protected]


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