• Ali H.

Translating our workplace stress into a team level actionable improvement plan

I won’t go there – for many, we recognise our modern working practices are full of high workloads, work pressures and workplace psychosocial demands! I have been asking for a while: How often are leaders developed to co-design solutions with their teams to work through this?

Let’s take a first-line manager starting out – you’ve stepped into the wonderful world of operation management, a day to day that is truly never the same; your job is to lead the frontline magic! As a result, your vocabulary will quickly start to include team development, P&Ls, risk management, and operational performance. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that you will hear about all the potential work-stressors for your team, developing a recovery climate, job-demands (challenge and hindrance) and resources, or opportunities to recoup. However, a heads up, you will quickly hear about stress, workload, and intensity!

One of the encounters we will experience as we go through our leadership careers – is how do we frame the teams stress perceptions into actionable plans that both meet the needs of the team and business. They also must work in conjunction with the world that our teams know.

The recovery research might just give you some helpful nuggets to bring into your team!

Work recovery happens when we replenish psychological, emotional and physical resources drained during the work day.

Most research to date has considered the process’ of external recovery, for example, what we do in our off-work time to recover from the daily strains. However, by looking to protect our teams resource losses, we could be taking the first step in establishing our internal recovery, which can start during work.

So here’s three parts to bring together;

The four P’s

One of the difficulties of frontline teams is sharing concisely what aspects need the focus. For example, you might find a project becomes tangled up with people, tight timelines, and workload. So, as a first step, you will need to untangle the routes.

Try asking your team if this is,

  • People related (co-worker or supervisor)

  • Process’ related (organisational red tape)

  • Project-related (workload and pace)

  • Pattern of behaviour (individual or team-related behaviour)


How can we look to protect team resources?

Job crafting is in essence, an employee-initiated behaviour to redesign their job, which gives team members chance to find more meaning in their work. Job crafting has also been linked with the protection of employee resources, as well as improved work engagement, wellbeing and job satisfaction.

Here’s four aspects to get started with your team on.

  • Increase structural job resources (For example, job aspects that help work goals and opportunities for development, autonomy, or skill variety)

  • Increase social job resources (For example, seeking social support, leader coaching, or performance feedback)

  • Increase challenge demands (Creating opportunities for new ‘stretch’ projects that require effort but are rewarding when attained)

  • Decrease hindrance job demands (Where possible removing aspects of work that are emotionally taxing)


Make it actionable for you and your team, set measurable objectives to keep you on track. If you’ve made it to this point – you’ve made good progress; remember co-design sessions should have measurable outputs.

  • Set the Objectives.

  • What do your key results look like?

  • What are the initiatives that are going to get you there?

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