A perfect storm of anxieties is creating a ‘stress timebomb’


Agnesia Agrella, Founder – Symetize

A perfect storm of anxieties surrounding Covid-19, Brexit and work-life balance has created unprecedented levels of stress inside UK businesses, says business architect Agnesia Agrella. If not defused in time, the impacts could be disastrous…

Unprecedented levels of stress inside UK businesses pose a major threat to their survival, if left unchecked. So says business architect Agnesia Agrella.

The combination of pressures resulting from the Covid-19 outbreak and lockdown, the upcoming Brexit deadline and the dramatic increase of home-working are creating higher stress levels in more people than she has ever seen at any previous time in her 30-year professional career.

Agrella says: “From a stress perspective, what makes Covid-19 so dangerous is that it has already gone on for so long. We’ve all been in heightened stress-response mode for months now and the human body isn’t designed to deal with continuous stress over such a long period of time. For UK businesses already dealing with the prolonged uncertainty over Brexit, the levels of stress are off the chart right now.

“When we are under stress, we go into defence mode, which shuts down our communication skills and seriously impairs our decision-making ability. Left unchecked, it’s easy to see how stress-related mistakes and negativity could seriously disrupt or even destroy some businesses.”

Agnesia is now calling on the UK’s managers to be open and honest about their own stress, as a first step to addressing the dangerous stress levels within their teams.

She says: “Managers can be slow to admit that their teams are stressed or fearful as they think this reflects poorly on their own management style. One good thing about the outbreak is that it has genuinely been a shared experience at a global level. Managers now have the perfect excuse to admit their own levels of stress and start talking to their teams about how everyone is doing. They don’t need to act like they know it all or have all the answers for once.”

Agrella explains that while we cannot control external factors that create stress, we can learn to recognise and self-regulate our physical reactions to stress and avoid its negative consequences.

“The best thing that managers can do for their organisations right now is learn those techniques, develop those skills and lead their teams by example. Discover the benefits of getting stress under your control and the positive effect it has on your ability to communicate and collaborate well with your team.”



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