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My Passion for Dealing with Excessive Work Stress

Updated: Jan 11, 2021

Every nail may look like it has a hammer-shaped head, but this area was too big to not engage in from business, work, and life standpoints. I jumped in.

I am passionate about dealing with excessive work stress. I’ve felt it quite acutely on many occasions, and for many different reasons. I’ve also experienced it chronically in a couple of jobs. In other positions, it's been not only manageable, but almost strangely absent.

I was a young business developer trying to add value, and cut a path. I had always been interested in individual and organizational behavior and functioning – the relationship between people and work and how to make things “tick”. During my MBA in London, the subject of work stress, and it’s effects on individual and organizational outcomes jumped out to me like a jack-in-the-box. The functional business subjects were very interesting, and I read prodigiously about strategy, marketing, and entrepreneurship - but I saw managing stress as an inescapable cement that binds together, or tears apart, the rest of an organization’s value chain. If employees who are handpicked for professional jobs become overly stressed on an ongoing basis, nothing else can effectively compensate for that.

Subsequently, as a retained headhunter for Big Four accountancy partners, and executive recruiter for senior IT and Engineering professionals, I saw first-hand the role of excessive stress in workplaces - its stultification of innovative strategies, it’s unraveling of cultures. You could link the push factors of almost everyone I moved, or had a hand in moving, to acute or chronic work stress issues which they thought couldn’t (or wouldn’t) be resolved. Not every stressor was under the organization’s control, but a great deal were, and in many cases, neither the individual nor the organization addressed the problems. I came to feel genuinely sorry for the organizations I was headhunting people away from, and grew more interested in how to repair those relationships than making fees to help people exchange one set of stressors for what we liked to believe were a marginally more manageable set in our client’s organization.

So, I swapped recruitment life to deep dive my study of work stress through a research masters in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, and a doctorate in Organizational Analysis. As an associate professor of management at Hope College, I have since published a number of research articles and book chapters on the subject, presented at international conferences, and given keynote speeches. I am currently planning a book on how to bring organizations and employees back together on work stress.

My website is The message I share as a professor of management, speaker, researcher, and provider of evidence-based solutions is that employees and organizations working together to reduce stress is a win-win. There is an abundance of evidence that motivated employees who are challenged but not acutely or chronically stressed are better performers, more committed to their organizations, more present, and less likely to leave. Moreover, primary interventions around tweaks in job design are highly actionable, and under the control of organizational leaders.

Here are some of the ways I educate organizational leaders about work stress, and introduce interventions that help people and organizations thrive in tandem. I also help individuals deal with issues around work stress.

Here’s more information about my background, in case it’s helpful. This podcast episode explains how my background inspired my work in more detail.

I’d like to periodically share my best insights with you about work stress and related topics like reducing unwanted turnover, designing jobs for maximum performance and healthier levels of stress, and working through common areas of work stress faced by professionals. You can sign-up here for my newsletter on identifying, understanding, and dealing with work stress for healthy, high performing organizations. You can also download my free Work Stress Self-Assessment Tool, which will help identify the root causes of your work stress, and what to do about them. My commitment is to only send you the best and most useful information as a scientist-practitioner in this area.

Additionally, check out the latest webinar events for Jan 2021. I invite you to join one, or both.

- "Lessons from 2020 to Lower Work Stress in 2021":

- "Protect Your Workforce in 2021:

Please "re-share" this article, and reach out anytime if you have questions, ideas, or concerns. Take care!

Marcus Fila, Ph.D., is an organizational analyst and industrial/organizational psychologist. He is an associate professor of management at Hope College; and a researcher, speaker, and consultant on work stress.

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