5 Common Nonprofit Workplace Stress Triggers and Tips for Addressing Them | Beth's Blog

5 Common Nonprofit Workplace Stress Triggers and Tips for Addressing Them

Happy Healthy Nonprofit, Leadership, Personal Productivity, Resilience, Social Media Policy

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It is coming up on three years since I first published the Happy Healthy Nonprofit: Impact without Burnout and thrilled to see more people and publications talking about well-being in the nonprofit sector.

As I travel around and facilitate retreats with nonprofit organizations or master classes at nonprofit conferences as well as webinars on the topic, I’ve noticed some common themes related to stress trigger in the nonprofit workplace.  Here is they are and some tips for addressing them.

  • Self-Inflicted Stress Due To Poor Boundary Setting At Work

Some people say their stress is self-inflicted because of they are not able to set boundaries at work with a manager, direct reports or colleagues. This often leads to stress because of too many unnecessary meetings, surprise deadlines, and too many distractions because they are unable to say no to more work or a chatty co-worker.

Here are some brief practical articles packed with tips for exercising your boundary setting muscles at work:

    • How To Tell A Chatty Co-Worker You Don’t Want to Talk. It is great to have a collegial environment at work, but it is a whole other thing to get trapped into a lengthy non-work related conversation with a co-worker because they like to shoot the breeze. One tip is to say let them know your needs by saying something like, “I would love to chat with you more, but I have an important deadline on XYZ and need to focus on that now.”
    • 9 Ways To Say No To Busy Work and Unrealistic Deadlines Saying no makes the difference between a packed schedule and an open one. It makes the difference between having too many tasks and having just the right amount. It makes the difference between working crazy hours and hitting deadlines without stress.Exercising your no muscle requires asking yourself “Is this the best use of my time right now?”
    • How Successful People Cancel Meetings. To avoid having too many back -to-back meetings and no breathing time, either don’t accept the meeting in the first place or cancel or reschedule in the ways suggested in this article.
  • Toxic Leaders

If organizations want to improve their employees’ work experience, they should start by improving their leadership. This will probably do more to reduce workplace stress than any other single measure.  Ensuring that their employees are not traumatized by toxic or mediocre leaders, organizations need to hire competent leaders. Finding the right person may take more time, but the pay off will be worth the investment — for employees and for the organization at large.  This article provides some insight about reducing stress in the workplace by more effective hiring practices.

  • Digital distractions that create a 24/7 work day

With work being increasingly carried out online and in our email boxes removing the limits to “work hours,”  there is an expectation that staff should be reachable and responsive at all times. However, research shows that constant connectivity may be counterproductive when it comes to engagement and productivity levels.  This article provides four different solutions to limiting digital distraction in the workplace.

  • Workplace Culture

Some nonprofit workplace culture are rigid, requiring staff to be in the office between certain hours and at their desk. This can create stress when employees try balance life and work  – and that stress can lead to burnout.  Have a more flexible work place can help. There are a lot of ways to implement workplace flexibility policy but sometimes we need to make the case for it to our bosses.

Sometimes the only answer is to make a change.  Ed Batista has a great post, “Some Baggage We Take With Us (On Leaving A Leadership Role)” that is good food for thought if you are thinking of managing your stress by making a job change.  Whether you manage your stress through developing personal coping skills, strategies for communication with other people or changing your job, it is important to take notice, become self-aware, and moving towards a happier, healthy work life.




One Response

  1. Jason Chmura says:

    Great article. I love the recommendations for removing digital distractions. Thank you

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