How I Stop Corporate Pressure From Ruining My Mental Health

Posted by Rimli Bhattacharya in Mental Health
March 14, 2018

Daniel and I we worked together for several years. We were both equally adept in the supply chain sector though Daniel was the one who was heading the department and enjoyed all the corporate perks and amenities. Needless to say, his pay was much higher. He had a wife who was employed with the Maharashtra government with an equally fat pay and also had a son who was an all-rounder. The son was good in studies, he was an athlete, he was good in singing and he was equally good in any field we know.

Now that I have etched the sketch of Daniel let me say why I am writing about him. There was something else as well. Daniel never looked happy. While I was content with my less pay even though I knew I was equally capable, he never felt the same.

Whenever we interacted he sounded like a preacher, teaching me life lessons and how to climb the corporate ladder. He also said that I need to forget my holidays and concentrate only on work. Each month, there used to be a target set by the management where we had to perform or perish. Working with him for so many years I too started feeling pressurised that I need to perform always else I will face the axe.

There came a time when in spite of Daniel’s constant efforts and results the management still looked for improvement. Daniel, who used to report to the company COO (Chief Operating Officer) got a new boss as SGM (Senior General Manager) which was a demotion. Daniel was broken, and after a couple of months, he gave in his resignation.

As a well-wisher, I asked him the reason, tried to explain to him that these were tricks by management but he told me that he had got the news from a very reliable source that the management was about to chuck him so to maintain his image he resigned before the corporate could show him the door.

Several months later I got news Daniel is in the hospital as he tried to commit suicide. The case was similar with three more colleagues of mine and I guess that was the turning point of my life. I faced the management ALONE and said I cannot give in to their demands of jeopardizing my holidays for their sake. To me my health is important and I am not going to put that at stake. Here I was referring to both mental and physical health. Daniel and the others were pushed to mental illness and here I was, undaunted no matter even if it a financial crisis for me I chose to remain firm in my decision.

While we all know we need a job to support us, here are some tips on how to handle work pressure and also sustain suitable work-life balance. To a certain extent, stress is required to be productive else the employee may just sit back and enjoy but that is incorrect. One should enjoy the job and also know how to handle stress.

1. Settle for the job you like. Times have changed and there is no need to follow what your parents/spouse/society wants you to become. Once you figure out your true calling you can fair that segment no matter how difficult it is.

2. Do not look at the money and promotions. Though it is necessary to boost your morale but don’t be aggressive. It doesn’t work for you. On the contrary, it will destroy you the same way it destroyed Daniel. He earned his pay only to spend on hospital bills. So what is the use of that money?

3. In case you settle for the job which you may not like then just know that there is a correlation between responsibility and control when it comes to job stress. If you have lots of responsibility in your job and little or no control, you are going to have more stress. But if your levels of responsibility and control are in balance chances are your stress will be lower. The nurses in the hospitals often have as much responsibility for patient’s health as doctors but not as much input into the control of their care. This imbalance can be very stressful. If you feel the responsibility in your job doesn’t match the control, see if you can make adjustments. Making minor changes in your job description can sometimes bring these two forces into balance.

4. Check the companies before you take a plunge. We Indian’s feel elated when we get a call from MNC (Multinational Company). Though British have left us, we still feel the need to validate ourselves with a tag from abroad. Working for MNC can fetch you a lot of stress due to the difference in time zones. While in foreign countries, the employees make sure they do not work post the scheduled time here in India we prefer latching the whole night so that we can cater to the demands and appease our respective bosses.

While Daniel did exactly what I’ve mentioned above, I made sure I finish the work assigned to me and I didn’t respond to a single official call/email on weekends. I could very well manage the work within the stipulated time. I raised an alarm whenever I felt overburdened and in the process missed increments but that was of least interest to me. Whatever I got was good enough as long as I had food, shelter and clothes to wear. What is the point in owning a car when you cannot go for a long drive? What is the point in holding multiple credit cards when you cannot watch a movie? Ask yourself three questions before joining an organization:

  • How adept am I at handling job stress?
  • How much control do I have in my occupation?
  • Is my job environment more stressful than other job environments?

In an article by StressStop.com they have mentioned in a healthy organization, the management will clearly define your roles and responsibilities, the management will also empower you to participate in a decision that affect your work, create work schedules that are realistic and compatible with the demands outside the job, challenges you to work up to but not over your capabilities.

It has been observed the denial of leaves during vacations, asking the employee to constantly reply to emails and also be available on phone 24 x 7 adds to stress ultimately leading to insomnia which spiral into mental illness and the money an employee earns is spent on visits to clinics to restore their deteriorating health.

While Daniel, he is now suffering from depression. Another colleague of mine hanged himself to death.

It is observed the two common health problems with the employees are – depression and anxiety. The other illnesses include obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and lot more other physical ailments. Organizations should understand that it also affects the performance of the employee and to add to the misery of the employee the corporate can go to an extent of firing that ailing employee.

According to a post on The Conversation: “One key strategy is to recruit and promote managers on soft, as well as technical, expertise. Too often employers dismiss psychometric assessment, the gold standard test for softer skills (“too expensive”) or gloss over red flags in order to fill roles. The reality of recruitment is difficult – particularly for hard-to-fill roles – but securing managerial “fit” saves expense and can prevent performance issues and work-related mental health problems long term.”

A suspected mental health problem should not prevent a manager from engaging in performance discussions with staff. While employees do not have to disclose their mental illness to their manager, it is okay for a manager to bring up performance-related issues, as long as this is done sensitively and respectfully. This might involve asking the person whether there is any health or well-being-related circumstances that may be affecting their performance. If an employee does choose to disclose a mental health problem, managers must make reasonable efforts to accommodate a worker’s illness, as with any disability.

In conclusion of this essay here are some pointers for the employees to combat the stress at workplace and they include:

  • Exercise
  • Bring a command on your responsibility; raise an alarm when it stresses you without the fear of getting judged. People will judge you anyway.
  • Check your values.
  • Change your dominating bosses. If need be confront them with an iron clad spirit. Show your courage and also know you are much better and that is the reason they have hired you.
  • Go for a new job. Do not stick to one job that will fetch boredom and also reduce your creativity. A private concern may take you for granted as was Daniel’s case. No one should reduce your values. You have the right of earn what you deserve and not a penny less.

Don’t let anyone dim your light. Mind management is the essence if life management. The key to success and happiness is to love your job more than your employer. You are important.

Disclaimer: Based on a true story. Name changed to protect identity.