There has been of late a fair amount of reporting of the increase in anxiety brought about through workplace stressors. The known effects of this on employees include the manifestation of mental, physical, emotional and spiritual distress, with the consequence that workplace performance slackens, and people become ill. We also know that in this stressful environment mistakes are more likely to be made, these are unlikely to be viewed positively even if the mistake highlights the need to do something different or even presents with an innovation that may ultimately improve things in the long run. The workplace looks ripe for errors and blame cultures. The resources available in the working environment are squeezed to the point that workloads are unmanageable, things get missed out, or at best delayed.
People who work in the public sector have usually found themselves to be working here because they care, their reason for going to work aligns with this central part of who they are, caring is their strength. Because they care they carry on in these difficult circumstances but what happens to them in the process is that their caring strength is chipped away, and they find themselves so far from the core of who they are that they end up in what is known as the ‘periphery’. This is a place of tearing, of being torn on a daily basis between wanting to care and often not being able to cope.
Ok so we hear about this a lot in the media but what about the private sector and in particularly SME’s?
Did you know that the least likely part of the UK workforce to take a day off from work belong to those who either own or work in an SME. Not rocket science to know why…..if you don’t work you don’t get paid…if you don’t work there are fewer other employees to mop up the extra work…if you don’t work the business might fold. SME’s are also being squeezed more tightly than ever, as the pressure is on here too to do more with less. Or in this case to do more for nothing….how does this play out? Well more often than not existing and new clients will want meetings to ‘explore ideas’, ‘ to just check through some plans’, ‘to make sure the spec is right’, and what does this translate to? Theft. Theft of ideas, theft of skills and theft of time. Sure those working in the private sector have always been expected to tender for work and to provide presentations that may even include mock up plans but the return on this investment time has usually been forthcoming. This return is happening less and less.
For SME’s that are Social Enterprises the plot thickens even more….this business sector has a sound altruistic foundation; they are set up and run by people who care about their communities, a group of people or a cause. The funding for these businesses has often been sourced from charities, trusts and the public sector…..all of which have less to spend, and with more social enterprises emerging the competition for accessing funding is fierce. So fierce that Social Enterprises are becoming less collaborative and adopt the sort of competitive behaviours that wouldn’t go amiss the Olympics.
What can we do?
The situation needs to change but how do we do this? The first place has to be with ourselves, let’s face it, this may be the only real change we can bring about, and the only lasting way in which we adapt to the strange toxic world of work we now find ourselves in…..
How to go about this will be the subject of part II of this posting. Till then, sawa bona and go well.