Perceived Stress vs Actual Stress

Postby Tim123 » Mon Feb 19, 2018 11:24 am

Hi


I'm currently dealing with my employer about changing my role within the organisation. I was pushed in to the role unwillingly and have found it is so antithetical to who I am that it is causing me to become stressed and anxious.


I've had a number of occupational health referrals and something that management is picking up on is the use of the term 'perceived stress' as well 'Tim feels...' and 'Tim believes...'.


After I bit of googling I get the impression that perceived stress is a medical term to differentiate physical stressors (heat exposure, starvation, etc) from mental ones (the more common usage of the word stress). Is this right? If so, does anyone know where I can get a formal definition? Management seem to be taking this as I'm making things up.


Many thanks


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#1

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Mon Feb 19, 2018 3:54 pm

Tim123 wrote:After I bit of googling I get the impression that perceived stress is a medical term to differentiate physical stressors (heat exposure, starvation, etc) from mental ones (the more common usage of the word stress). Is this right? If so, does anyone know where I can get a formal definition? Management seem to be taking this as I'm making things up.


It doesn’t matter how google or a dictionary or the American Psychological Association defines “stress,” physical, mental, or otherwise.

The only thing that matters is how management is defining stress. If you want an accurate definition so as to better understand what they mean when they say you feel or believe you are stressed, the only way to know is to ask them.

Which person in the company, whether in Human Resources or some other capacity is the person you can ask about these types of questions?
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#2

Postby Tim123 » Mon Feb 19, 2018 4:57 pm

Hi Richard

Thanks for responding. It's not management that is defining stress, rather the occupational health doctor appointed for the referral has used it a number of times in his report with clarifying it. Management have already used the term 'Tim believes the role causes him stress' from a previous report to suggest that I am making it up. It is the nature of the work type, rather than workload or bullying or such, that is causing my stress and so far they seem unwilling to acknowledge this is possible.

I understand that any psychological stress is going to be perceived, as in order for the stressor to have an effect one must be aware of it. However, I've seen 'perceived stress' used interchangeably with 'psychological stress' to differentiate from physical stresses. In order to get management to work to a more reasonable solution I need to persuade them away from this idea that I'm trying to cheat the system to get around having to interview. If I can find a definition of perceived stress from a reputable source then it would be a lot easier to have that conversation.
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#3

Postby quietvoice » Mon Feb 19, 2018 5:23 pm

Tim123 wrote: Management have already used the term 'Tim believes the role causes him stress' from a previous report to suggest that I am making it up. It is the nature of the work type, rather than workload or bullying or such, that is causing my stress and so far they seem unwilling to acknowledge this is possible.

We all are making it up as we go along. Our psychological experience is based upon our thoughts and beliefs.

What type of work or role are you talking about here, specifically?
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#4

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Mon Feb 19, 2018 5:25 pm

Tim123 wrote: If I can find a definition of perceived stress from a reputable source then it would be a lot easier to have that conversation.


Without context it seems hard to see where having a definition from a reputable source will do much of anything, including changing the perception that you are trying to cheat the system. In fact, whenever I dealt with personnel issues and someone came to me with a dictionary it indicated they were focused on semantics of the issue rather than the underlying actual cause.

Maybe your situation is different. Just my personal experience is much different. Never has trying to get into the weeds about the definition of what the word "is" "is" resulted in a good outcome. It goes nowhere and in fact detracts from the real issue.

If it is the "nature of the work type" that you object to, then focus on that rather than how that type of work makes you feel. If the job is to slaughter pigs, then that type of work may understandably cause stress for some people. It may be objectionable to many people on a variety of grounds, not just stress.

It sounds like you have not yet been able to articulate why the type of work is objectionable to you. Maybe you have not really thought about it in such terms. Why is it so objectionable? What are the aspects of the job that you find objectionable?
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#5

Postby Tim123 » Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:50 pm

Thanks both for your replies,

Whilst context is irrelevant to my original question I don't like to ignore people that have taken the time to respond. My current role is as a bureaucratic clerk issuing permits for a large government organisation. Prior to this I was a field scientist but was moved due to a long term knee injury. Whilst I'm grateful to remain employed, the post is so antithetical to my ideals of creativity and freedom that I suffer hugely as a result. I've been trying to find alternative roles through conventional means but this has not been successful in 2 years. The stress and anxiety doesn't make it easy to apply and interview.

My resilience has finally worn through and I asked management to help me find an alternative role. The only way they are willing to do this for me is as part of a formal process that runs through three stages, each lasting 8 weeks. The first to stages are about trying to adapt the role temporarily to allow the employee to get past the hurdle they are facing, the last phase is an 8 week window where the employee can be redeployed to another role. If no suitable role appears in this 8 week window then it's bye bye.

Given the nature of my situation, the first two phase are not appropriate but management is so focused on the established process that we're having to through them anyway. I've been discussing the situation with management for the entire duration. I've been very articulate, citing examples that can be corroborated by other team members and resorting to metaphor where appropriate. They are well aware that I have been under a huge amount of stress in the role but have retreated in to a legal mind set to avoid any responsibility, instead quibbling things like 'perceived stress'. Throughout all of the discussions I've been trying to reach a mutually beneficial resolution, ie that of redeployment or alternative duties until I can successfully interview my way out, but process trumps all apparently.
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#6

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Tue Feb 20, 2018 2:47 pm

Tim123 wrote: Throughout all of the discussions I've been trying to reach a mutually beneficial resolution, ie that of redeployment or alternative duties until I can successfully interview my way out, but process trumps all apparently.


Bureaucracy is a pain. I worked in government agencies for 20 years. Lots of bureaucracy. I had an employee that was an officer in the field, she had an accident. Hurt back and knee. She was reassigned to be a dispatcher. She was horrible at dispatching. It took around 2 years to go through the process with training, counseling, disciplinary actions until she finally resigned. She didn’t have the qualifications for any other role in the organization, as many roles were physical and the other roles required technical skills she didn’t have. Really unfortunate as she was in the wrong role and it impacted the efficiency of the entire unit and department. Imagine a dispatcher that ignores a call for medical assistance.

There were similar cases. One female officer had a masectomy so she said she could no longer wear the bullet proof vest so wanted reassignment. Another officer accidentally shot his own foot with a shotgun during a domestic violence call. Both eventually left the organization, because there were just no vacancies in other areas. You don’t just fund a detective position because a person can’t do patrol anymore. It’s unfortunate.

You object to positions that lack creativity and freedom. That would make a routine desk job suck. You’ve been applying for two years without success. It sounds like there is no clear role for you that is available. It sounds to me like they are going through the process, because what is beneficial for you they don’t see as beneficial to the organization.

If I take a step back...it seems like they have every intention of just going through the process to get rid of you legally. They see it as best for you and best for the organization. They don’t bypass the process, because it sets a precedent for future staffing issues, and they want to make sure when you are let go that nothing can come back on them.

The definition of stress is just a distraction that won’t make a difference. Behind closed doors they are not trying to come to a mutually beneficial solution that meets your needs. Behind closed doors, they are just running out the clock.

Of course, I’m just going off my personal experiences in government and bureaucracy. Your situation might be entirely different. They might be legitimately trying to find some alternative role for you.
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