Seriously Scary Work Worries (and How to Face Them)

Work Worries

Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that new jobless claims fell to a 14-year low. So you can probably move the fear of being laid off lower on your list of work worries. But that doesn’t mean you’re breathing easy when it comes to your job. If you’re like most professionals, you’ve got at least one or two other work-related fears keeping you up at night.

What work worries are most people haunted by? That’s the question Robert Half asked professionals across the U.S. and Canada just in time for Halloween. Here are the top results:

Work Worries

The best way to face your darkest work worries is to shine a bright light on them. Use the following tips to combat your biggest fears:

Too much to handle

Everyone has crunch times on the job. The important thing is to balance your workload and keep stress in check. Of course, that can be easier said than done, especially if your office is characterized by a workaholic culture. Here are four quick tricks that work a treat:

  1. Take a realistic look. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, step back and try to take an objective view of your workload. Is every project really a high priority? Does everything need to be done right away? It’s easy to let your work worries consume you and forget that things may not be as dreadful as they appear. Could you get an extension on the request that just came in? Have you even asked?
  2. Make time to unplug during the workday. You may think that one big, all-out push will help you complete the job at hand. But at some point, your energy — and effectiveness — will start to wane. No matter how busy you are, take at least a few minutes for yourself to recharge your batteries.
  3. Schedule a real getaway. Vacation isn’t for wimps. It’s for hardworking employees to get the rest they need. Whether it’s a long weekend or a fortnight on the beach, take time off work after a big project wraps so you can leave work worries behind.
  4. Address the situation. Sometimes, a full plate can be a good motivator. Many of us perform best under pressure. But that’s only sustainable for so long. If you’re finding your work is simply unmanageable week after week, you need to talk to your boss. Don’t assume he or she knows how heavy your workload is.

Mistakes will happen

Nike’s legendary CEO Phil Knight once said, “The trouble in America is not that we are making too many mistakes, but that we are making too few.” It may sound like a cliché, but we do learn from our mistakes. Here’s a simple four-step approach to turn the situation around when things don’t go as planned:

  1. Own up to it. Don’t be defensive or place blame on others. Acknowledge you were wrong and apologize to those affected. A simple “I’m sorry” can go a long way.
  2. Fix it. Do what you can to rectify the situation or, at least, limit the damage. Communicate your progress so your boss and affected coworkers know you’re on the ball.
  3. Learn from it. One of your manager’s biggest work worries? That an employee will make the same mistake twice. Usually, bosses can forgive an on-the-job gaffe. (Chances are they’ve made a few themselves!) But they expect workers to learn from their errors. You need to examine the cause of the mistake and devise a strategy for ensuring it was an isolated incident. 
  4. Safeguard against it. Many mistakes are avoidable if you can recognize that common situations often lead to them. One usual suspect: too much work, resulting in stress or burnout (sound familiar?). After all, when you’re overworked and tired, you’re simply more likely to make an error. So be sure you examine the root cause of any mistake you make.

If, despite your best efforts, work worries are still keeping you up at night, try talking them through with a mentor or trusted colleague. Sometimes, just sharing your fears can make them seem less scary. An objective third party can also help you determine when work worries become too much to bear and your best option is to consider searching for a new job.

What are your biggest work worries? And, more importantly, how do you face them? Share your thoughts below.

Tags: Workplace