We came across an example of unnecessary stress in a well known organisation recently. In a small team, one member of staff was full-time whilst the other employees worked part-time. A pattern emerged where the part-time employees repeatedly received time off. However, despite being short-staffed, the full-time employee was still expected to cover the whole team’s workload.

The full-time worker approached her manager with her concerns. However, her manager’s response was to tell her to work on her own time management! The results to the business were that the employee became unwell and was signed off work for three weeks. She was then very worried about returning and having another confrontation with her manager. She loved her job and the company has always been pleased with her performance, but she was seriously considering leaving.

Fortunately, she consulted Anne privately before handing in her notice.

In this all-too-common situation, we see a number of issues. There was role overload – too much reliance on one person to perform three people’s work. Also there was role ambiguity with a total lack of clarity as to what her role entailed.

Anne was able to help the employee in the following ways. She helped by providing:

  • Coping strategies to manage workplace stress
  • Increased assertiveness skills
  • Creating a positive state of mind
  • Skills in having an honest conversation with her manager

The employee was able to return to work and enjoy her job again. The benefits to the organisation were firstly that they didn’t lose a key employee. Secondly, they avoided a constructive dismissal tribunal or worse, and thirdly that both employee and manager learned to communicate more effectively with each other.

Employers have “a duty of care” to their employees and one of the key goals of leaders must be to create an environment of trust.