3 Stress Management Strategies for Association Professionals

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For working professionals, stress is an unavoidable part of the job. However, over time, stress multiplies and turns into burnout, which might lead to a lack of motivation. The World Health Organization characterizes burnout as feelings of exhaustion and negativity toward one’s job, increased mental distance from one’s job, and reduced professional efficacy. This can cause lower levels of engagement in the workplace and a drop in employee retention.

Not to worry—if you or your association’s staff members have been experiencing stress and burnout, this guide will teach you stress management strategies that you can implement at your organization. Whether you’re an association leader, a marketing manager, or an events coordinator, you’ll leave this article feeling more equipped to deal with your workplace stress. Let’s get started!

1. Learn proper time management.

Time management is an important skill for a young professional working in any industry. Without proper time management, your association’s team members are more likely to feel overwhelmed by their work and stressed out, leading to burnout.

To learn proper time management, consider the following strategies:

  • Set realistic goals. Just as it’s important to set big-picture goals, such as in your association’s strategic plan, it’s also important to set realistic personal goals. That way, you’re more likely to reach your goals and will feel less stressed about missing the mark.
  • Choose a daily priority. As a working professional, there will be days when you have many different tasks fighting for your attention. Reduce mental clutter and avoid feeling overwhelmed by choosing a daily priority. This will usually be your most important task of the day.
  • Reduce distractions. Social media, emails, and background chatter are all common distractions in the workplace. If you notice a distraction that is continuously taking your attention away from work, determine a way to minimize it. For example, if you’re easily distracted by noise, consider wearing noise-canceling headphones.
  • Implement a time management system. If you’re still having trouble managing your time at work, consider implementing a dedicated time management system. For example, the Pomodoro technique is a popular productivity system. Essentially, you work on a task for 25-minute blocks, called Pomodoros. After every Pomodoro, you get a five-minute break. After every four Pomodoros, you can take a longer 15-30 minute break. A system like this helps keep productivity levels high but also leaves time for you to rest.
  • Delegate tasks if necessary. Especially if you’re in a managerial or leadership role, you’ll likely have more tasks than you can handle. In situations like these, don’t be afraid to delegate tasks to your directs. That way, you won’t be overwhelmed by your work.

Remember that stress is a symptom. To combat it, you’ll need to go to the root of the issue. By implementing these time management strategies in your workflow, you’ll be better equipped to prevent stress proactively. 

2. Find a healthy work-life balance.

Another way for association professionals to reduce stress lies in a healthy work-life balance. In fact, 72% of employees believe that work-life balance is a very important factor when choosing a job, and 57% of job-seekers say that poor work-life balance is a dealbreaker when considering a new role. Clearly, this concept is important to attract new talent for open roles, as well as for employee retention and satisfaction.

To create a healthy balance between professional and personal responsibilities, consider the following tips for volunteers and staff:

  • Take breaks when stressed. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a moment and step away from your work. Reset your mental state by taking a short walk or getting a new cup of coffee. Then, dive back into your tasks when you feel re-energized.
  • Set boundaries with work. Most people choose not to mix their professional and personal lives to reduce work-related stress bleeding into their personal time. Don’t be afraid to set reasonable boundaries with work, such as refusing to take work calls when you’re out of office, limiting overtime hours, or not working through your lunch hour.
  • Be mindful of your needs. Mindfulness refers to the ability to focus your attention on the present and stay grounded and focused. Incorporate mindfulness into your workday by being present in your body and addressing your physical, mental, and spiritual needs. For example, if you’re feeling a headache coming on, take a short break from work to prioritize your physical needs.
  • Take vacation time. It’s important for you to take vacation time, especially after a big association project like a fundraising campaign. With proper usage of vacation time, you’ll be able to recharge and come back ready to work. This increases your productivity and improves the quality of your work.

By establishing a healthy work-life balance, you’ll be able to avoid stress and the impacts it has. For example, 62% of workers report ending their day with work-related neck pain. If you’re experiencing physical symptoms of stress from your work, consider pain-relieving remedies such as ice packs or heating pads. Or, consider receiving a medical massage. If you’re worried about the cost of massage therapy, MassageBook recommends double-checking your insurance benefits, as some providers cover medical massages.

3. Make operational changes to reduce stress.

This third strategy mostly applies to association leaders and professionals in managerial roles in association management companies. However, even if you’re not in a position of power at your organization, you can still promote operational changes that help reduce stress!

Here are some examples that support stress management at your association:

  • Incentivize self-care with compensation. Astron Solutions recommends that organizations keep in mind indirect compensation, which includes all the ways you can give back to team members without paying them directly. .
  • Add flexible work hours. Sometimes, life gets in the way of work. For example, doctor appointments usually need to be scheduled during the workweek. Instead of requiring employees to take time off, add flexibility to your work schedule. AMR provides our employees with the option to work 9-hour days and a half-day Friday.  Another options is flextime, where our team works 8 hours, such as between 6 AM and 8 PM, rather than working strictly from 9 AM to 5 PM. That way, they have the flexibility to fit necessary appointments into their work days.
  • Implement a remote work format. Commuting removes a large chunk of time from staff members’ ’ days, giving them less time to unwind and de-stress. As a remote-first workplace, AMR eliminates commute time and builds goodwill and trust with our team members.
  • Invest in efficiency-improving software. Follow the example set by the for-profit industry and invest in software that improves productivity. For example, a massage clinic would choose a massage therapy solution that makes work easier. Your association could work with your association management company to invest in member management tools, marketing solutions, financial management software, or any other helpful solutions. These tools will automate administrative tasks, reducing the time your employees spend on those projects and increasing their productivity.
  • Establish a supportive workplace culture. Center your association’s core values on empathy and respect to build a supportive workplace environment where leaders and staff team members feel empowered to work and can communicate effectively. Recognize each employee’s contributions so they feel valued for their work, increasing their positive feelings toward the associations and decreasing stress.

If you’re worried about the stress levels at your association, send out a survey asking volunteers and staff members about the stress they’re experiencing. Collect the responses and analyze them, noting any common answers or frequent suggestions for improvement. Implement the strategies that would work best for your association’s unique needs and show leaders and staff that their well-being is your priority.

Stress management is important for professionals in all industries, including associations. With these top stress management strategies, you’ll be better equipped to proactively prevent stress and manage it as it comes up. Try a variety of these strategies to find the technique that works best for you and your mental health. And, don’t be afraid to push for operatic change at your association to create a more positive work environment for everyone.

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AMR Management Services
Association Management Services Company

AMR is an accredited association management company (AMC) providing a wide range of services including strategic leadership support, financial management, event planning, member relations, marketing, communications, program management, information technology services and general administration. Looking for help with your association? Get In Touch With Us Today!

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