Sunday, June 16, 2013

Stress management workshop too stressful for charity

More than two dozen staff members at Metro’s largest charity have gone on stress leave because of yesterday’s mandatory stress management workshop.

The day-long event at the Metro Community Trust featured stress experts and motivational speakers, as well as a healthy lunch, a yoga session and a free massage. All 100 staff members were required to attend. The Trust closed down its offices for the entire day to ensure staff got the stress relief they required. But by the end of the day, 27 staff members had filed for stress leave and 30 more called the Trust’s Employee Assistance Provider seeking counselling.

“We kept hearing that staff were just totally stressed out about their work, so we came up with this idea of a stress relief day,” said Trust CEO Susie Snidely. “Then, this. We don’t know what happened.”

Half of the effected staff reported that the stress management day made them realize how much stress they were actually feeling.

“I was OK with all the stress we are under to raise money for our new campaign. You know. Not sleeping, grumpiness, tummy problems – the usual stuff,” said 20-year Trust fundraiser Dibble Brewer. “But when I heard that stress expert telling us how bad that all was I realized that I should technically be dead right now. That’s when I filed for medical leave.”

Others said taking an entire day off work to attend the stress management workshop was just too stressful for them.

“I couldn’t take it. An entire day away from work,” said Bill Turnip, annual giving officer. “They made us turn our smart phones off as we entered, and I felt my knees go weak. I tried to get it back, but they wouldn’t let me. My pulse started racing and I was sick to my stomach. I couldn’t handle the stress of taking time off work to discuss stress reduction.”

Three staff had to be hospitalized during the “You can beat stress” session. They were treated for dehydration and then later released.

“I really thought that if we just gathered all of people to talk about stress reduction in the workplace that they would actually feel better and not go totally bonkers and start to drool uncontrollably from their mouths,” said Snidely.

The Trust’s new stress management plan calls for more workshops, aroma therapy and workplace stress discussion groups. It was rolled out the same day as the new fundraising quotas.

“I don’t know why this happened. But – stress workshop or no – I expect everybody to get their work done this week. Anyone who doesn’t make their quote is gone,” she said.