Under Control

Work-related stress occurs when there is a mismatch between the demands of the job and the resources and capabilities of the individual worker to meet those demands.  Stress is, on average, the costliest of all work-related illnesses in terms of working days lost.  Studies in this area distinguish between stress and pressure, where pressure can be defined as a subjective feeling of tension that is triggered by a potentially stressful situation.  However, where pressure exceeds an individual’s ability to cope, the result is stress.

Set in a financial institution these scripted scenarios highlight the pressures faced by a team working in collections and arrears support during times of personal insolvency faced by their clients.  Themes of workplace stress and individual resilience are explored and applied to any work environment, including your own.

Workplace Stress | Pressure | Resilience


SARAH: (at her work-station reading an email aloud) Target achievement is a key performance indicator for your role. In this organisation we hold the philosophy that people control their own success. We know you will embrace these new targets with vigour and continue to drive success for you and your colleagues. For goodness sake, who writes this stuff?

CHRIS: I know

SARAH: It's bad enough that they increase our targets, with no consultation. Do they really have to threaten us with KPIs?

CHRIS: Perhaps they think if they scare us enough our performance will somehow magically improve! No-one pays any attention to those emails any more, I wouldn't worry about it.

SARAH: That's easy for you to say Chris.

CHRIS: It's easy for anyone to say. We're doing the best we can and increasing our targets is not going to make any difference.

SARAH: We are doing our best.

CHRIS: Sarah, do you think the customers we have to deal with give a toss for our targets? Management would do well to remember that it's a physical impossibility to get blood from stones.

SARAH: Yet that's what they expect us to do. They impersonalise it, but we're dealing with human beings who have real problems.