Often we can become stressed and depressed due to lack of support at work. It’s so easy to blame yourself in this situation, that you should have been able to cope and just get on with things. But what if you’re just starting a new role, starting in a new organisation or you’ve got a promotion and you have new responsibilities that you’re not quite sure about. So many people are dropped in at the deep end and expected to sink or swim, which can quickly cause overwhelm, stress and depression. Often when you start a new role you can be promised a certain level of support beforehand and then when you get started this support doesn’t materialise, with no explanation as to why. This is unacceptable and needs to be addressed. You wouldn’t expect anyone else to cope in the same situation so why would you carry on unsupported?
Often we don’t want to show any ‘weaknesses’ to our new bosses or employers and we will carry on in new situations without support to show that we can handle our new role. Or we might bring up the fact that the support hasn’t materialised in a meeting early on in the new role, and then nothing is done about it, and we feel too embarrassed to bring it up again at a later date.
Often the quality of training/support when you enter into a professional role following university can differ greatly. In professions like Law or Teaching, the quality of on-the-job training can mean the difference between staying in the profession or quitting quite early on. In my legal career I was thrown in at the deep end without any real training period, and in my first teaching job I was just expected to hit the ground running and basically sink or swim. If I’d have had better support and training I might still be doing these jobs. If you are applying for any job please find out the exact details of the support available to you in the transition period of the role, and make sure that it’s part of your employment contract.
Stress occurs in a wide range of work circumstances but is often made worse when employees feel they have little support from supervisors and colleagues. Lack of support doesn’t just mean lack of support from supervisors/employers but also from colleagues. You might be in charge of a team who refuses to work with you for whatever reason, which makes your job very difficult. Or you might be part of a team where for whatever reason you don’t get the support you need from your supervisors or the rest of the team. This can feel extremely isolating and upsetting.
Lack of support from manager or supervisors is a ket contributor to employee disengagement. Little or no support from bosses adversely affects employee motivation. So the whole situation is completely counterproductive to a productive workplace. The impact that managers have on their staff is incredibly important. If there is lack of engagement or repeated negative engagement, the work environment will in turn be disconnected and negative.
How to deal with things if you are faced with a lack of support at work:
- Take control – If you remain passive, thinking, ‘I can’t do anything about my problem’, your stress will get worse. That feeling of loss of control is one of the main causes of stress and lack of wellbeing.The act of taking control is in itself empowering, and it’s a crucial part of finding a solution that satisfies you and not someone else. Arrange a meeting and verbalise how you feel.
- Accept the things you can’t change – Changing a difficult situation isn’t always possible. Try to concentrate on things that you do have control over. If there are external problems to blame for lack of support, such as financial issues with the company that means fewer staff, then there isn’t a lot you can do about it. Focus on what you can do, and if necessary look for another job if the situation is untenable.
- Don’t rely on alcohol, smoking and caffeine as your ways of coping. This is avoidance behaviour. Over the long term, these crutches won’t solve your problems. They’ll just create new ones. Putting your head in the sand might provide temporary relief, but it won’t make the problems disappear. You need to tackle the root cause of your stress.
- Make your employer aware of the stress being caused as a result of the lack of support – your employer has a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act to ensure the health, safety and welfare of staff. They also have common law duties to take reasonable steps to ensure your health and safety at work. You have the right to make a legal claim for stress against your employer due to lack of support. But your employer needs to be aware of the situation, unless it is obvious they will likely to be able to raise a successful defence if they can show that they were unaware of the stress you were under.
- Point out the employers obligations under your employment contract/national guidelines. If you are undergoing professional training then in some cases the initial/ongoing support you receive in work-based training is detailed in the national guidelines. For example the induction process for teachers is enshrined in statutory guidance on the Government website. If the school is not following the induction guidelines then the NQT should go to the Governing Body of the school and raise concerns as part of the agreed grievance procedures.
- Tell family/friends about what is going on – don’t bottle things up and try and cope with the situation yourself. This will just make the situation more difficult to deal with. Even tell a colleague who isn’t involved if you think that they will act with discretion. By having a support network in place you are more likely to cope with the stress of the situation.