Stressful high demand and low control jobs

Employees involved in decision-making find job to be less stressful

High demand and low control (HDLC) jobs are the jobs with the highest stress rates. Employees who occupy these positions are usually working on tasks assigned to them from the beginning to the end of the workday. HDLC workers follow protocols for most if not all the projects they’re assigned and therefore have little or no room for creativity in the way they complete tasks.

Have you held an HDLC job for too long and are you wondering whether it would be wise to quit? Is it your interests or is it your values that are telling you to quit or keep your job? Ideally, both your values and interests point in the same direction but an ideal is not achieved without sacrifices. An HDLC job may not be in line with your interests, but if the job is the most efficient path to reach your goals without deviating from your values, it’s in your interest to keep the job. Likewise, it’s not in your interest to keep a job that demands you betray your values. A job that conflicts with one’s values will never lead to happiness or even to a sense of achievement. Interests are flexible but values cannot be compromised. Interests incite our curiosity and attention while values, the end goal, are the source of our interests. A woman who works to achieve a life of well-being values prosperity. Any road she may choose to reach prosperity, i.e. her line of work, is an interest.

To a man who values a job well done, a profession is simply an interest or means to reach his highest value: competence. If his highest value is competence, working as a security guard and looking after the safety of his employers or working as a doctor and accurately diagnosing patients will be of equal value to him, and assuming he can logically achieve competence in each field, he’s right to find both career paths as equally meaningful.

High-demand and low-control (HDLC) jobs are viewed as dead-ends by the public and at times by the same people who occupy those positions. To hold this view of any occupation is to limit one’s potential to excel at an HDLC job or any other job for that matter. A man who believes that there is a limit to his professional potential is right to settle on a plateau that is below the professional capacities of others. But to believe that an occupation is a dead-end is to believe that one’s life is a dead-end. This does not mean that there are no dead-end jobs, it means that dead-end positions are filled by men and women who decide they’ve reached the limit of their professional development.

If Joe, an employee in a HDLC position, is interested in assigning tasks rather than in having tasks assigned on to him, Joe’s interest is in becoming a competent manager, which means someone who knows what is needed of his employees to further the prosperity of an organization and its stakeholders. Joe’s current job may not be a managing position, but as long as the job (even an HDLC job), is the path to a promotion in a foreseeable future, it is in Joe’s interest to excel at it. For men and women who suffer from stress on account of the demands of high-demand low control jobs, making the job less demanding to reduce stress may not be a option. However, research suggests that becoming more involved in decision-making can ease occupational stress.

HDLC workers involved in decision making may have more say in the projects assigned to them and becoming involved in the decision-making can make your job less stressful. If your supervisor makes the decisions you want to be a part of, you’ll have to possess full expertise of your job and an equal if not superior level of competence than your supervisor has at his or her job.

To a man who values competence, frustration caused by lack of knowledge is short-lived because achieving competence comes first in his agenda.

Achieving competence in any field is a demanding task. Valuing competence does not guarantee one possesses competence or that one will achieve it. The steps towards achieving competence in any field require patience, and dedication, and at times the path to competence may cause frustration. Frustration is typically defined as: a result of being unable to achieve something. When going through moments of frustration at your job, ask yourself whether your frustration is a step in the process towards achieving competence. If it’s a step in the process towards competence, frustration becomes a transitory state.

For example, consider a scenario in which a supervisor asks Joe, a subordinate in a high-demand and low-control job, to re-write a report that lacks clarity. If the supervisor’s reasons are valid, a rewrite will improve the report’s legibility. Joe may experience frustration at the request, but if he values competence, Joe will understand that a rewrite is necessary to make the report legible. If Joe wishes to call the shots one day, the frustration he experiences at having to rewrite the report will be temporary because he knows that writing legible reports will favor his career.

If a supervisor has illogical reasons for asking Joe to rewrite a report, meaning, if a rewrite will make Joe’s report less legible or tamper with its accuracy it is the supervisor and not Joe who’s competence is in question.

Incompetence is not a permanent state of inability and anyone can become more involved in the decision-making process at his or her job. Anyone who’s become an expert at something will confirm that expertise is not a birthright but available to anyone who values and wishes to achieve it. If being competent is being able to do something, then the process of achieving competence is a process of learning how to do something. “Not being able to,” is different from, “not knowing yet.” To a man who values competence, frustration caused by lack of knowledge is short-lived because achieving competence comes first in his agenda.

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