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How to beat lockdown heat?

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Bhanukumar Parmar - (VP HR), UltraTech Cements Ltd. Mumbai

11-Jun-2020

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Decoding the stressors and taking actions accordingly is important. Steps that can help to overcome stress are (a) Write it down awareness and appropriate actions (b) Positive mind-set and positive affirmations (c) Gratitude should be the way of life.

Oh My God! My demi-gods are in distress and feeling the heat of this lockdown so many days and still counting.

During my Refinery days, a HR friend of mine asked me few questions. Who hired you? Who provides your increment, promotion, transfer, training, wellness and its insurance, your quarters, your sons schooling, your engagement, etc.?I stated HR. He smiled and went-off. Immediately, I realized that in a company the major contribution in an employee life cycle is of HR. Obviously, people providing such facilities may think themselves as almighty. Later on, I joined the bandwagon.

Today, with the challenges of pandemic and frequent lock-downs, I was in constant touch with HR professionals. Whenever I had a discussion with them, I sensed tiredness, helplessness and remorse. I thought of conducting a small research by talking to HR Leaders, by asking one simple question i.e. whats-up?

My insights are, yes! In todays time our HR fraternity is in constant trauma of delivering more with less. Some discussions:

1. I have just completed reading one MHA guidelines and the state has announced another one.

2. My CEO says why should we pay for not working, where is the money coming from.

3. We are into productivity enhancement do you have a productivity charter & any matrix to measure. Job cuts what to do?

4. I have to take several approvals from government for starting operations of my units and also at the same time worried on compliance of COVID norms. Everything revolving around me – HR.

5. Employees are not understanding that if corona case enters our Unit it will spoil our reputation, therefore I am constantly meeting demands of my people.

6. People are attending several webinars and I have so much work to do, I feel I am missing a lot, when will I learn?

7. People are stranded, few need support, some wants to go back to their hometown, some have medical issues, few have several exigencies what to do?

8.I need a break, no Saturday, no Sunday, HO calls any time with short notice, I have to be in my attire whole day, need to look good in video calls, I am far away from my family.

9. I don't want to be martyr, if they are not starting our operations and all other industries have started whos going to face people brunt, I am going back!!

10. One more circular and now no forced payment to people and at the same time 33% deployment, what a dilemma!!

Yes, these are indications of stress.

ACADEMICALLY:

Definitions: Webster defines Stress as - One of bodily or mental tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existent equilibrium. A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.

Richard S. Lazarus defines stress as a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceeds the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize

WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF STRESSORS???

Negative stress is distress, it is a stress of losing, failing, overworking and not being able to cope with current circumstances. It affects people in negative manner and in the VUCA world it has become part of our life. Eustress is positive stress which can result from exciting experiences.

Source of Stress

Environmental

Change, situations, Weather, noise, clutter, Demands – office & family, VUCA world

Interpersonal

Conflict with others, Difference of opinion, Rigid thinking

Intrapersonal

Negative Thoughts, Inability to say No, Sensitive Behaviour, High expectations from self, To be liked by others

Physiological

Hormone Fluctuation,Illness,Lack of Sleep

Symptoms of Stress -

Headache, Neck, Back, Stomach pain, Gain or loss of weight, High Blood Pressure, Sleeping problems, Lack of energy ,Trouble concentrating, Frequent colds or Flu

Behavioral

Impatient or Unable to stay still, Avoid others, Accident prone,Procrastinating,Chronically late, Drinking, smoking, nail-biting

Emotional

Nervous, Angry, Depressed, Hopeless, Frustrated, Sad, Irritated and disoriented

Homeostasis is the term referred to as the state defining the physiological limits within which our body can function effectively and stress destabilizes the same.One should know from the symptoms as to whats happening.

Mr. Subroto Bagchi in his book, The Elephant Catchers: Key Lessons for Breakthrough Growth, has stated very exquisitely that if you send monkey catchers to catch elephants the results will be imaginably devastating.

A classic example of role miss-match.

Further, every human being is hard wired basis his upbringing and therefore the personal values, beliefs, experiences, learnings etc. If there are jobs, tasks, contrary to that; it is quite likely that there will be short-circuit in ones system and that can lead to stress.

Yes, there are people who have over the period of time demonstrate learned behavior and change readiness to match the VUCA world, still there will be stress but can be within their homeostasis limits.

Human body over a period have learned to adjust and will certainly do so. One should know the way out.

What Stalwarts speak on Stress and how they suggest to busting it:

Mountain Dew Advt. Dar ke aagey Jeet hai. The fear that you fear the most will lurk on your face if you don't know how to appropriately engage your-self and think / act beyond your fear; one can land himself / herself into stress.

2. Dr. DM Pestonjee & Dr. Satish Pandey In their book Stress and Work: Perspectives on Understanding and Managing Stress. (Some abstracts:)

In the chapter - Managing Constructive and Destructive Emotionsby Sinha (2013) makes use of the Rasa Guna theory of emotions and emphasizes that negative emotions such as Rajasic and Tamasic emotions have destructive impact on self and impair cognitive abilities. She highlights the role of Vipassana in increasing professional effectiveness.

Mr. Shiv Khera Stress leads to better performance.

In the chapter Work Family Conflict in India (Rajadhyaksha&Ramadoss, 2013) uses an existing model to test its fit within the Indian context. The authors point to an interesting trend: social support, as previous research demonstrates, has an ambiguous relationship with negative outcomes in the West; however, in India, there is a positive relation of social support with negative outcomes, such as job satisfaction, intention for turnover, and family-interfering with work. In other words, social support proves to be a greater strain, because the pressure of reciprocity or returning the favour increases the already existing work demands among employees.

Sahoo (2013) draws from the model of learned helplessness (Overmier & Selignman, 1967) to measure the role of faulty cognition in stress related to organization role. Findings of this study revealed that personal helplessness, unlike universal helplessness, is significantly associated with various dimensions of role stress such as personal distance and personal inadequacy.

Research by Kumar, Prakash and Mandal (2013) reflects on stress in extreme conditions in the context of the Indian military. It highlights how those working under harsh conditions of high altitude, conflict-ridden areas and sub-zero temperatures react to stress. While most of the literature on distress in military conditions has been taken from the American context (Pflanz, 2001, 2003) and the Russian context (Trutanic, Strazicic&Koren, 2000), it provide certain proactive interventions and remedial measures to combat stress in such environments by extending regular stress management techniques such as sensitization, sustaining morale, and developing a sense of purpose to the domain of the military and combat.

3. Mr. David Allen in his book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-free Productivity states

Get comfortable with paradox.

If you don't pay attention to what your attention has, you will give it more attention than it deserves.

Crisis can create clam, if you are in present state and acknowledge the change and the response has to be different.

Stress free productivity is a martial art.

The Keys that he shares are (i) Log it down (ii) Take Action (iii) Use right road map

4. Sadhguru JaggiVasudevan on Stress - Stress is not a part of our lives - it is our inability to manage the body, mind, and intellect and life energies. Sadhguru explains that it is these inner dimensions of ourselves in friction that create stress. Through bringing our bodies and minds to a more peaceful state of function, one can overcome the stress-induced afflictions. Stress is because of unconscious / mindless living need to develop ability to manage.

5. Some-one shared a story with me that if you hold a glass filled with water for some time its fine and you can do so. However, if you prolong it for longer time it will pain. Therefore, thinking about one thing for a long time will only hurt, switchover your thinking to more productive and positive thoughts. One should have boxes in mind and see when to open which thoughts and when not.

6. In a movie scene "Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani" Ranbir Kapoor tells Deepika Padukone lets go or we will miss the light and sound show. Deepika asks Ranbir to sit and enjoy the sunset. Ranbir, What if later on we come to know that show was the best. Deepika ,Its fine, but lets not miss this sunset. In life whatever we do, we will certainly miss something. Friends - With the new technology, all the webinars that have been screened are stored on You-tube or other platforms. Take a chill-pill!!

7. Mr. Sarvesh Gulati in his book Art of Stress Management states the stress management skills fall into three main groups:

Action oriented skills: in which we seek to confront the problem causing the stress, often changing the environment or the situation.

Emotional oriented skills: in which we do not have the power to change the situation but we can manage stress by changing our interpretation of the situation and the way we feel about it.

Acceptance oriented skills: Where something has happened over which we have no power and no emotional control and where our focus must be on surviving the stress.

8. Brahma Kumari Shivani - Stress is our CHOICE. Stress is our creation, an outcome of wrong thoughts, which affects our well-being. Any amount of stress is damaging. Situations are not in our control, so our responsibility is to take charge of our state of mind to handle any situation.

9. Robin Sharma Victims are pained by change; leaders are inspired by change. One needs to develop superstar mind-set, heart-set, health-set and soul-set. If you want to see people with no problems, you have to visit cemetery. Problems breed innovations. People normally blame it on time, if I would have enough time but everyone has 24 hours. How one utilises his or her time decides their fate.

10. Bessel A. Van Der Kolk in his book - The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma states:

  • EMDR, or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing might sound crazy, but its wildly effective at helping people recover from trauma.
  • Dealing with your trouble is easier when you practice yoga to help you connect your mind and body.
  • Mindfulness and a support network of friends and family who care are also great ways to experience healing.

Here in the present circumstances most of that is happening is new and unknown can add to stress. In telecom we were continuously on the go and had to be tech savvy. There were people who were working from home, I use to connect with PAN India on virtual calls, conference calls and people were used to it. However, sudden burst of the same in other industries has created a small disruption and stress but people are now up and going great guns. Its new normal and people have embraced it. What needs to be understood is to have calendarization of events and seeking permission.

We as human beings have reptilian brain which is responsible for the fight OR flight OR freeze response on any fear-evoking actions. In the civilised corporate settings the response has to be thought through. Accordingly, our actions to any such situation will be F/F/F, but with mindfulness.

To summarise, decoding the stressors and taking actions accordingly is important. Steps that can help to overcome stress are (a) Write it down awareness and appropriate actions (b) Positive mind-set and positive affirmations (c) Gratitude should be the way of life. Yes, don'tforget that a holistic person (who knows to manage heart, health, mind and soul) only lives better life OR the Peter Principle will take effect.

The Rapid, Unprecedented, Enigmatic and Tangled (RUET) scenario of Covid and over focus on it by media, the confusing gyan spread by social media has created a Bermuda triangle where anyone wandering gets lost. This has caused unimaginable stressors in society, governments, organizations, employees, and aspirants, unemployed, daily wage earners to every small and big entrepreneur.

My call on this goes a bit deeper where "I" choose my peace as its rightly said whatever you manifest - it magnifies. Hence the moment you start accepting the emotion it weakens in its origin and you feel better. Now how to build this choice is to think whether my worrying will make any good to me, others, environment, organisation or society?Will my contribution bring positive to me, others, environment or society or organization?