Perfectionism in the Workplace

As younger generations enter the work force, so does the rise of perfectionism among these workers. An extensive APA study documents an incredible 35% increase of socially-prescribed stress over the last twenty years. Socially-prescribed stress is defined as “perceiving excessive and unfair demands of perfection from parents, peers and the social world.” Too much perfectionism in the workplace can lead to negative results including anxiety, stress, avoidance of feedback, and even burnout. What are some practices that managers can implement to alleviate perfectionism and advocate a healthier workplace?

Read further for 3 practices to alleviate negative perfectionism among employees:

1: Set reasonable goals.

Negative perfectionism can result when employees set unreasonable goals. They feel failure and stress when they are unable to accomplish these unattainable goals. Implement a SMART goals guideline in your workplace regime. The SMART mnemonic stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. With this model, employees have the ability to keep goals realistic and grounded. Their tracked progress on this model will help them avoid a never ending horizon of impossible expectations.

2: Learning from failures and experiences.

This practice can be a difficult one to implement into the workplace. We are often taught at a young age that failure is shameful. Managers can create a sense of accomplishment around failures and mistakes by tracking them as a process that leads to success. It is important for employees to understand that some variables remain out of their control. Rather than using the outdated ‘shame and blame’ tactic, focus on how to overcome by asking “What happened?” and “What can we learn from this?”

3: Recognizing employee’s need for emotional support and incorporating collaboration.

A team-oriented environment can go a long way in tempering an overly self-focused worker with a mindset of perfectionism. Pull back some of the pressure by creating teams with common goals. Balance both team work and individual work so both introverts and extroverts are set up for success. Utilize employee wellness programs to assist in alleviating stress and avoiding total burn out. Happy employees are healthier, less stressed, more productive and easier to manage.

We all strive to provide a positive work environment that fosters success.  Addressing the internal demands of perfectionism amongst employees and adhering to these practices is an excellent step toward creating a culture free from the negativity.