RDI Corporation blog - What is the difference between good and bad stress? Learning to find balance

What is the Difference Between Good and Bad Stress? Learning to Find Balance

Leadership is about applying the right amount of pressure to get the best out of your team without causing stress.  Work is inherently stressful.  Stressors outside of work need to be taken into account as well.  All leaders are capable of inducing stress, however the best ones know the balance.

Stress at Work

Working with a stress-free leader can make your environment a positive experience.  In a recent survey, Korn Ferry found the following results:

  • 35% said that their boss was the biggest source of stress at work
  • 80% also noted that leadership change affects stress levels
  • Overall employee stress levels have risen nearly 20% in 3 decades
  • 76% of respondents said that workplace stress had a negative impact on their personal relationships
  • 66% have lost sleep due to work-related stress
  • 16% have quit jobs because stress became too overwhelming

Stress is Detrimental

Regardless of what kind of work you do or the program you are on, the reality is that workplace stress is detrimental for everyone.  Stress comes from a variety of stimuli that may be difficult to pinpoint at times.  It is important to know that not all stress is bad, and not all stress can (or should) be avoided.

Good Stress Motivates

Good stress motivates you. Deadlines, being shorthanded, or being asked to speak in front of other people — these are all situations that create stress, but they are also what motivates us. Good stress tends to be short-term and can even enhance or improve brain function. When the pressure is on, the brain sharpens up.

Bad Stress is Chronic

Bad stress, however, is chronic. It harms your health, slows you down, and can even start to inhibit thinking.  Job stress that accumulates can negatively impact us and lead to the following:

  • sickness
  • depression
  • reduced productivity
  • problems at home
  • retention problems

Fight-or-Flight Response

Essentially, stress uses your fight-or-flight response. Good stress gives you time to recover from that response, but bad stress locks you into it and wears you down. It’s important to know the difference between good and bad stress so you know which is the problem and which is actually helping you.

Growing & Changing

With all that said, our work environment is fast-paced and we are constantly growing and changing.  It is important to reach out if you are feeling stressed and unable to deal with it.  Our culture, Earn Well, Learn Well, and Live Well (ELL Well), is for everyone, and everyone should be living it.  Simply put, we have your back.  We are all in it together.



Bronson Trebbi

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