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Managing stress at work: three things your employer could do for you



Earning a living can be stressful. Whether it’s time constraints, difficult colleagues, a lack of autonomy, or an unreasonable workload, it’s hard to think of a job that doesn’t come with a certain amount of pressure.

This can have a negative impact on a person’s mental and physical health, and is a major cause of long-term absence from work. An excessive level of stress is bad for people, and it’s also bad for the organisations they work for.

Often though, the responsibility for managing stress is left with the employee. Employers tend to think their role lies in helping staff better manage their own individual situations, perhaps by changing their own behaviour or perceptions.

This may involve things like time management workshops or mindfulness classes – ideas directed at the individual with the aim of enabling them to be better at their job.

But these kinds of interventions place the burden of ultimate responsibility on the employee. And in doing so, organisations feel less obliged to alter the stressful environment by increasing resources, reviewing job descriptions or improving manager training.

To get an alternative view, I spoke to employees about their experiences of attempts to reduce stress levels in the work place. And here are three things your organisation could actually do for you to reduce work related stress.

It is impossible to tackle the causes of stress if an organisation doesn’t know what they are. During my research, participants spoke of the importance of initiating and maintaining dialogue between various groups including employees, trade unions, human resources and senior management.

This can be done by regular “pulse checking”, using surveys or one-to-one reviews and a continual observation of staff wellbeing. One housing association employee told me that at their work place, “the union was hammering on the door to [hold] a stress survey”. She added: “[Management] know it’s a top issue.”

My research suggests that the role of managers is a key part of employee wellbeing. Managers tend to be the ones in charge of setting deadlines, communicating expectations and dealing with employees’ successes and failures.

Due to their crucial role, it is vital that any employee with managerial responsibilities receives proper training. This could cover aspects of making deadlines reasonable, being educated on the various help mechanisms that the organisation has in place for their employees and tools to help managers identify stress in their teams.

Management training can – and should – look different in every organisation and department due to their unique qualities and challenges.

One major management quality that was underestimated (but considered by many to be invaluable) was compassion. Although some of my participants had very demanding jobs and personal circumstances, having a compassionate and well informed manager made all the difference to their day-to-day lives.

Someone who works in higher education commented:

Management skills are not just about delegating the work – [they are about] building a team, recognising when people are struggling, and [being able] to approach that. It’s really personal.

Another said: “Some managers can be very supportive and understanding, but some managers would just say: ‘Do this, and I want it done today.’”

And one respondent noted: “I think I’ve got the best manager going. She’s not only my manager, she’s my friend as well, and that’s nice. I can talk to her.”

Compassionate management can be as simple as asking how an employee is doing, properly listening to them, and perhaps a small gesture like having a cup of coffee together. It sounds simple, but compassion towards employees and colleagues tends to depend on individual behaviour rather than being something that is encouraged systematically at an organisational level.

When I asked who was responsible for managing stress in an organisation, many of the people I spoke to gave conflicting answers. Some (after much thought) said it was the HR department, while others (including a member of an HR department) said it was occupational health professionals.

A housing association employee described a situation where “there’s lots of work to be done [around stress] but no one is leading on it, no one is joining it up”. They added: “It’s all been very hit and miss.”

The lack of clarity is an obvious cause for concern. If nobody knows who is in charge of a particular aspect of employee wellbeing, it is unlikely to be properly addressed. There needs to be clarity – and accountability – around who is responsible for managing stress, so that initiatives can be put in place, and so that people know where to turn when they need help.

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Etihad Airways in trouble over emissions reduction plans



Australia’s consumer watchdog is considering action

Etihad Airways is in hot water over allegations it lied about its emissions reduction plans.

Australia’s consumer watchdog is now considering action against the airline as the body crackdown on so-called greenwashing.

It follows two Etihad advertisements that appeared on digital advertising banners during a football match at Melbourne’s AAMI Park on 15 February last year.

The ad had the words “net zero emissions by 2050” next to its logo.

In another commercial, the airline claimed “Flying shouldn’t cost the Earth”.

Flight Free Australia claims the ads convey the misleading impression that flying with Etihad does not have a significant environmental impact and Etihad intends to achieve net zero by 2050.

But the group says middle eastern airline has no credible path to net zero emissions by this date and it is not “technologically, practically, or economically feasible” to reach this goal.

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Sports billion-airs: athletes living the high life



From flat screen TVs, endless snacks and more champagne than anyone could imagine.

It’s not quite business class, these are the private jets that are taking off more than ever before.

And some of the world’s biggest athletes are among those living life in the fast lane.

For these professionals at the top of their game, it makes perfect sense.

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Janet Yellen admits banking system is stabilising



The U.S. Treasury Secretary admits more may need to be done, if runs on other regional banks occur

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that the country’s banking system is stabilising, but further steps may be needed to protect depositors if runs on other regional banks threaten contagion.

“Our intervention was necessary to protect the broader U.S. banking system, and similar actions could be warranted if smaller institutions suffer deposit runs that pose the risk of contagion.”

Her comments came at an American Bankers Association conference, more than a week after the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or FDIC, closed the failing Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank.

Yellen said she believed the actions of the FDIC, the Federal Reserve and the Treasury had reduced the risk of further bank failures that would have imposed losses on the bank-funded Deposit Insurance Fund.

“Let me be clear: the government’s recent actions have demonstrated our resolute commitment to take the necessary steps to ensure that depositors savings and the banking system remain safe.”

Yellen did not provide details on what further actions may be warranted.

She said that the current situation was “very different” from the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, when subprime mortgage assets put many banks under stress.

“We do not see that situation in the banking system today. Our financial system is also significantly stronger than it was 15 years ago.”

Yellen did, however, add that in coming weeks, regulators will examine the failures of SVB and Signature Bank, and reexamine whether current regulatory and oversight protocols are appropriate for the risks that banks face today.

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