My wellbeing in a stressful work environment

Caroline Mboijana, Managing Director, The Leadership Team (U). 

What you need to know:

  • A toxic, untrusting and threatening environment is unsuitable for the organisation and the mental wellbeing of its people.

Dear Caroline,

I am a business development associate working with the marketing team in a fast-moving goods organisation. Unlike many organisations, we did very well after Covid-19. There were a lot of changes, and we started working in smaller teams, and there was a sense of team cohesion. The competition has increased in the last six months and the pressure to hit our targets is more evident. I have also noted that the work environment has got tense and of late, there is loose talk from managers, which borderlines threat. I am starting to feel stressed and anxious. Should I raise this with HR, given management may cause the issues? What do I do? Arnold

Dear Arnold,

This sounds uncomfortable for you and it looks like you may want to address the issues sooner rather than later. In an ideal situation, I would have advised that you take a day off work, but given the work demands, we may need to resolve this differently.

If you are starting to feel stressed and anxious, you need to be aware this is not good for your well-being and you must look after yourself. You may want to take some time out during your lunch hour, for example, and talk with a trusted friend out of the workplace and share your concerns. This initial talking allows you to voice your concerns.

Your discussion will likely result in questions that will help you think through your solutions. It would help if you were prepared to find answers to address your anxiety and stress and ways to help you reach your targets in the workplace. An alternative solution is to identify a therapist with whom you can talk to. Many avoid this as a solution, but talking to a trained and certified professional has many advantages. 

Firstly, they are prepared to listen and help you work through your stresses; they are a safe environment, especially if you are not ready to share your stresses with family members. They are likely to be costly, but it is an option. Another option is to seek an audience with your counsellor at your place of worship. Our places of worship usually have a team that supports its members during trying times. While all these options will address your stress, I think it is also crucial that you raise the issue with your HR department so the leaders know that the work environment is toxic and negatively impacting the teams.

You may want to approach this by raising it within your team and collectively raising it with HR. The issue you have raised is more frequent than many assume; a toxic, untrusting and threatening environment is unsuitable for the organisation and the mental wellbeing of its people. Good luck 

Caroline Mboijana,
Managing Director, The Leadership Team (U)  [email protected]