Jul 06, 2015 | 2
Minute Read

The Extreme Side of Stress

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Companies Must Understand Root Causes of Stress to Effect Change

In an alarming trend that could continue, young Wall Street professionals are taking their own lives.

This is according to a recent New York Times article. The newspaper has recently covered several stories of young financial professionals feeling overwhelmed by their jobs and running out of options in dealing with these stressors.

To say these young professionals were working long hours is an understatement.

Many stories told of regular all-nighters and 100-hour workweeks, week after week. On top of that, they were put under heavy pressure from their bosses and bridled with an unmanageable amount of work.

The coverage points to these examples as contributors to the suicides, citing one young man who called his dad several times the night of his death about his lack of sleep and debilitating workload.

There is a bright side to this report, however. Most top Wall Street firms have sought to change their work policies for young investment bankers in recent years so their talent isn’t overworked.

This is telling me several things.

First, companies are seeing stress as a colossal problem. Yet, they haven’t cracked the code to a solution.

The New York Times article cited an example of Bank of America instituting a policy that requires analysts to take four days off a month on the weekends. These policies, while well intentioned, aren’t addressing stress head on.

Secondly, unfortunately if Wall Street executives are addressing stress and reassessing policies after a rash of suicides, they’re too late.

We must recognize stress in its early stages, to halt it in its tracks and to implement a plan to correct it.

Lastly, these companies are showing that they care, which is step one to overhauling a toxic work environment.

But in order to execute that caring vision, they need to understand the root of their staff’s stress to be truly effective.

For example, does the organization or department create the stress? Is it coming from that person’s direct supervisor? Is it due to organizational change? Lack of appropriate rewards? Maybe peers are putting unnecessary pressure on each other.

Finding the origins of stress are paramount to addressing it.

Our new Stress Quotient™ assessment measures seven sources: demand, efforts/reward balance, control, organization change, manager/supervisor, social support and job security.

Extreme stories aside, stress can fester in any organization at any time. These stories detailed the seriousness of this issue.

Thankfully, most companies won’t experience the severity of suicides as a result of stress, but it’s never worth taking the chance.

To understand more about stress in the workplace, visit MeasureYourStress.com.


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Bill J Bonnstetter

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