A job change is among life's most stressful events

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StressThe impact of workplace stress on our mental health is well documented in the media as workplace health and safety authorities and insurers aim to reduce the associated costs. But what struck me recently when reading an article about the 43 most stressful life events – see the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale – is that 10 of them are in some way connected with our working lives. And as many of us know from experience, change doesn’t have to be negative to causes stress.

A promotion can be just as stressful as a demotion, and a significant change in earnings – up or down – each have their own stresses (though I know which most of us would prefer.) Interestingly, also on the list is one thing few professionals will escape – major business readjustment.

The rate of change in Australian business is growing exponentially and participating in reinvention is now just a requirement for turning up for work. Not surprisingly, troubles with the boss, major changes in hours or work conditions and changing to a new line of work are all on the list, with being fired or made redundant among the top 10 – right up there with divorce, illness and incarceration.

I wonder how many recruiters have this context in mind when they deal with an experienced manager looking to find their footing after a decade moving up through the same organisation. I wonder how many stop to acknowledge how tough it is that major career change often strikes when a few other stressful life events are also going on – large mortgages, kids in private school or unexpected health issues.

Senior professionals expect to be handled with care and respect when making a difficult life change, and so they should. But we often hear stories of less than ideal encounters with inexperienced recruiters who mean well but simply don’t have the skills to help reposition niche managers, or sector-specific experience to uncover new opportunities.

If you’re in that position and want to have a chat, feel free to get in touch. 

 Hamish