Stress is a common roadblock to productivity at work. But what exactly is stressing workers out?
Wrike, a project management software provider, decided to find out by asking 1,500 knowledge workers in various positions and companies to rank a list of common work hurdles from the most to the least stressful.
Below are the top five stressors at work based on this 2015 work survey management report from Wrike:.
1. Missing information
Andrew Filev, CEO and founder of Wrike, says the top stressor — missing information — is an indication of dependence on others as technology allows more and more workers to collaborate across countries and time zones.
“If you’ve got the time and the energy and the passion to work, but you’re being blocked by something else, it is very frustrating,” says Filev.
He suggests incorporating tools or systems that will allow all members of a team to see where a project stands and, perhaps, why it is not progressing. When team members have a central home online for a project, then everyone can easily see when another member is at a roadblock due to missing information from another member, he explains. This method keeps team members accountable in real time.
2. Problems with prioritization of tasks
Filev says that prioritization is key to succeeding or failing at your career. “There is more and more work everyday and it’s only going to get worse — or better — depending on what you do about it,” Filev said.
Improving your prioritization habits comes down to focusing on the most important task until it’s finished and then moving on to the next most important thing, he says.
Filev recommends that workers follow the Agile Project Management method that has taken over the software industry and prides itself on responding to change in a quick and smart manner by adding, taking away, or reordering tasks according to changes in the industry or new requests from stakeholders or customers.
3. Unrealistic goals for projects
Unrealistic goals for projects is often a result of insufficient or poor communication, Filev says. Inbound requests will continue to increase on top of already unrealistic demands because other people don’t know what tasks you’re working on at any given time. “So for them, the goals could be very realistic,” Filev said.
Make sure you are clearly communicating with your team and your manager about what you’ve got on your plate and all important deadlines.
Then, prioritize your most important tasks and communicating to your colleagues why those tasks are the most important. “If I cannot do everything in the world then at least I can communicate why what I’m doing is so important for the company,” Filev says.
4. Deadlines often moved around
“The reality of life is business moves fast, markets move fast, technology moves fast so as we get more and more information you often have to change your decision,” he explains. This often results in changing deadlines.
Rather than stressing out when things change, Filev suggests learning to live with and work around them.
5. Unclear leadership
While unclear leadership can be frustrating for workers who are relying on their boss to provide direction for the team, Filev says workers should remember that their bosses are human, too. “They are as overwhelmed as we are,” he adds.
Filev suggests that workers remember: one, that bosses aren’t always perfect, and two, that communication is often the best solution for problems of ambiguity. If you are unclear about a specific task or an overall company goal, then schedule a time to talk with your boss in a respectful manner. Come prepared with specific questions and ask for clear answers, he advises.