By David B Partain
Head of Marketing
FlexShares Exchange Traded Funds
It’s a stressful day. Your last client meeting ends early at 3:30 and you decide to hit the gym to relieve some stress. Not so fast….
FlexShares’ second annual Advisor Wellness Survey shows that on-the-job coping strategies tend to work better for financial advisors than off-the-job strategies in reducing stress. While advisors use strategies within each category relatively equally, the results they gain from using these techniques were not equal. In fact, the level of perceived stress is [19%] higher for advisors who use non-work-related versus work-related strategies.
Some years back the financial planning association conducted a study on advisor productivity – Doing More With Less. The research identified that just 13% of advisors felt in complete control of their time and only 10% felt in complete control of their business. The study found that a clear strategic focus, an effective infrastructure and a focus on personal efficiency were identified as three key aspects to creating greater efficiency and a sense of control. Key among the tactics cited was employing effective time management at the office.
So why do on-the-job stress reduction strategies appear more successful in reducing stress? One possibility is that they are not – it may be, rather, that advisors who use these strategies have lower levels of stress initially. But psychologists do recognize that “self-efficacy,” a person’s belief in his or her own ability to handle stressful situations, affects how people experience stress. Feeling in control (regardless of whether you actually are or not) provides a buffer against stress. So taking actions such as reaching out to a client or delegating tasks to staff or a coworker can provide a sense of control by directly addressing a potential source of stress. Or it could be as simple as the fact that when you address job-related stress with job-specific solutions, you’re decreasing the source of stress, rather than simply managing the symptoms.
That doesn’t diminish the importance of stress reduction techniques that are not work-related. While on-the-job strategies may reduce more perceived stress, research has shown that many of the outside-of-work stress reduction techniques suggested by the advisors in our survey – especially exercise and healthy eating, connecting with family and friends, and even remembering to laugh – are important to maintaining good health in addition to reducing stress.