A Simple Technique for HR Professionals to Manage Stressors on the Job

By Dr. Jack Singer

Besides having to deal with the “life stressors” we all experience, such as marital/family challenges, the death of close relatives, chronic illnesses, raising teenagers, and the like, HR professionals are faced with a multitude of potential job stressors to which they must adapt.

Many HR professionals find themselves overwhelmed by these stressors.  Whether it’s  your CEO treating your HR needs with disrespect, conflicting requests from multiple supervisors, having to do more with fewer employees, ever-changing technical knowledge that has to be learned, new governmental regulations, or balancing work and family needs, HR professionals often tell me that they believe that their job is controlling their lives and as a result, they feel helpless and hopeless with regard to adjusting to their work situations.

In my coaching practice with HR professionals, I find that teaching them a simple way to categorize job stressors can often help them to actually take control and manage inevitable stressors much easier.

Categorizing HR Professionals’ Job-Related Stressors

If you categorize stressors affecting you according to four “types”–important/controllable, important/uncontrollable,  unimportant/controllable and unimportant/uncontrollable– you can determine which stressors to work on and which to relatively ignore and let go of, because those stressors are either not under your control or are relatively unimportant in your daily life.

An HR Professional’s Success Story

Christen was on the brink of quitting her HR job because she constantly felt overwhelmed by stress and believed there was nothing she could do about it.  After consulting with me, she and I broke down her stressors into the following four categories:

4 Category stressor chart

Once Christen actually looked at all of the stressors impacting her, and categorized them according to these four “types,” they became much more manageable for her.  First, she stopped worrying about stressors that were uncontrollable.  Obviously, if she had no control over them, why fret about them?  Second, she pushed the unimportant stressors to the back burner, because they did not play a major role in her daily life.  For example, having to run errands tonight can be modified to fit into her available time, so why worry about accomplishing those errands tonight?

By focusing on what Christen viewed as important and controllable stressors, and learning how to manage them, she felt empowered to actually take charge of those stressors, thus markedly reducing her feelings of “hopelessness” and “helplessness.”

Your Action Plan:

  • Get a piece of paper and draw two lines, dividing it equally in both directions, leaving four equal-sized boxes.
  • Label the boxes with the four titles above.
  • List all of the stressors that impact you regularly and place them in the appropriate box, according to importance and controllability.

Focus on eliminating or managing those stressors that you consider to be important and are controllable and put all the others on the back burner.  For help managing these stressors, refer to my book, “The Financial Advisor’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide.”  (Note: Although this book was written for Financial Advisors, the 77 stress mastery tips and mastery strategies included apply to everyone, including HR professionals.)