We all know that workplace stress is a danger to our teams and our businesses. According to WorkSafe NZ, effects of workplace stress include increased illness and disease, low morale and employee engagement, anxiety, low productivity and increased antisocial behaviour. So what can we do as individuals to reduce stress in our working lives?

Start well

After the typical one-plus hour commute common to many New Zealanders, we start the day on the wrong foot. Remember to kick off your morning with a well-balanced breakfast, listen to uplifting music or podcasts as you commute, and attempt to have a positive attitude to the work day ahead.

Understand your requirements


Nothing is more stressful than working for a boss who regularly moves the goalposts for the work you are doing. If you are not sure what's expected of you, you never know if what you're doing is enough. Partner that with a boss who gives no (or only negative) feedback, and you are on a one way trip to stress town. In this scenario, it is important you talk to your manager and confirm what your daily / weekly expectations are, as well as strategies for achieving them.

Establish strong work / life boundaries

Due to the hyperconnectivity we now all have with the office, even when we go on holiday or are on maternity or bereavement leave, it is easy to feel pressure to respond to emails, texts and calls on a 24-hour basis. Make sure you establish strong work-life boundaries and clearly communicate these to your boss and colleagues. These may include not checking emails or answering your phone in the evening. I know setting up these types of boundaries has significantly improved the quality of my family's and my own life.

Say No (nicely)

As a bit of a people-pleaser, I love to say yes to new things, helping out others and being seen as a bit of a work hero. Sadly, this leads to me becoming overworked and overcommitted, causing high levels of stress. Learning how to nicely say no is a vital and mature skill that can improve your confidence in your workplace. Explain to your team that you have too much on, and if your boss pushes back, say that more work will ultimately lead to the quality of output dropping. Negotiate priorities and respect others' right to say no too.

Walk away from conflict

Interpersonal conflict impacts your physical and emotional health, and workplace conflict is worse as you can't escape it by walking out the door. Therefore be proactive in avoiding conflict where you can through not joining in office gossip, not sharing too many divisive personal opinions, and being wary of dodgy office humour. Though you don't want to paint yourself as the boring one, many of the things we do to feel we fit in can lead to conflict and heightened stress later on.

Remembering to prepare your day well, put in place respectful boundaries, work well with others and have a positive mental attitude will help you deal with much of the day-to-day stress that the modern workplace brings you.


Contact Tom O'Neil and the team at CV.CO.NZ for a free CV or LinkedIn assessment or to be your personal career coach. Visit www.CV.CO.NZ or www.CareerCoach.nz to find out more.