Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Comment of the Day

Regarding the post about the NYT, about stress in the workplace:

"Any and all inquiries into my private affairs, mental state and personal opinions on non-work issues from my employer would be met with brilliantly effective obfuscation (trust me, I have 26 year experience in government service). They would hear exactly what they wanted to hear: that I am in need of ZERO assistance to cope with the 'sub-minimal' on-the-job stress that I handle with ease. This assures my continued employment (seasoned veterans are hard to find) - unless I take umbrage at such an inquisition and take my talented self elsewhere.

"Your well-intentioned musings display a stunning lack of experience in the realities of the workplace: if it become too hard or too costly to employ somebody, then they will do without that person or the company will simply fold (or move to Taiwan). In addition, the more stringent the demands for such interventions as you contemplate, the less likely that anybody other that empty suits with a good line of BS (no, I am not in marketing - I am an Engineer) will get hired." Read the whole thing.
It pains me that anyone would have to work under these conditions - where the only acceptable response to illness-inducing stress is, "thank you sir, may I have another," or a stoic insistence that things are perfectly fine, thanks. I'm sure this man has facts to back him up, and that everyone in the mental health field should realize exactly what is at stake if an employee dares to admit to certain employers that stress has become an issue. (I'm not sure why he's stunned at my naivete, though....I'll admit that to anyone!) We do sometimes see patients who are so stressed that they are no longer able to function at work, and are no longer able to disguise that fact. Many employers actually surprise their workers in these circumstances, when it turns out that the employers are actually not ready to dump them....they try to be flexible with hours and sick leave, and try to help reduce conflicts. (That was clear, even in the NYT article.) But of course, not all employers are so understanding.....(It especially pains me that engineers would have to use obfuscation in the face of unreasonable stress. I completed my undergraduate degree at an engineering school.)


Blogger kbonline said...

I have to say, it's absolutely been my experience that the worst thing you can do to your career aspirations or even job security is to give any sign that you can't handle the stress of the job.

In my ten years in giant corporate America, it was easily observed that stress related complaints take you all the way off the corporate ladder, often result in a demotion (though this may take a bit of time to avoid lawsuits), and always put you at the top of the list during times of downsizing.

My advice to young professionals has been to avoid the word stress, focus on the root causes of the stress in addressing issues with peers or managers, and if you're cover is blown and you're labeled over-stressed, blame a temporary personal situation, preferably with a relative not in your nuclear family (parents, siblings, are best).

It's sad, but the truth is if your work environment is so stressful that it's effecting your mental or physical health, it's unlikely that your company will do anything but label you as weak - they generally won't examine their own business practices.

Bottom line: If it's you, get help privately. If it's the environment, get a new job.

2:50 PM  
Blogger shrinkette said...

Good post, thank you. The Economist has an article about the same topic, and I'm trying to link to it....

3:12 PM  
Blogger mario said...

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3:10 AM  

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