September 15, 2015

Organisational Supervision/Support

External Supervision/Support Service

Stress and Support in the Workplace

Stress and Support in the Workplace
(originally printed in the Disability Federation of Ireland Newsletter)

Occupational stress, which can lead to burnout, is on the increase in post-Celtic Tiger Ireland. Community and Voluntary sector organisations are experiencing greater demand for services, while resources such as donations, corporate supports and government funding have shrunk dramatically. Board Directors, CEOs, managers and staff in these organisations tend to be dedicated, caring people with a deep personal commitment to their work. Research has shown that those in the caring professions are the most at risk of burnout, as they are sensitive to the needs of their service users, and can feel demoralised or overwhelmed when those needs exceed their capacity to provide services.

Stress Factors

In the current era of cutbacks, CEOs and Board Directors can find themselves struggling to maintain levels of service provision against a background of reduced staff numbers, unpredictability of funding and greater workload. The relative isolation of the CEO position can contribute to the experience of stress, with many CEOs having no peer or confidante in the workplace with whom to discuss day-to-day pressures and problems. Board Directors, especially Chairpersons, may be challenged by increased legal and financial responsibilities and reporting requirements. While structured supervision and support may be provided to staff, there is no culture in the C and V sector of regular, scheduled access to external support for the CEO or for Board Directors.

How External Support can help

External Supervision provides a dedicated space away from the workplace to reflect on the challenges of one’s work, with an objective, experienced professional, in a confidential, one-to-one setting. Making space for discussion, reflection and “thinking outside the box” can reduce day-to-day stress levels and provide long-term gain for the organisation. It can be an invaluable resource for Directors, CEOs, managers and staff to help develop their skills and knowledge, address conflicts, identify training and development needs, and access personal support.External Supervision meetings are typically one hour long, and occur as regularly as required. Attendance may be short-term, occasional, or on-going. Benefits can include enhanced ability to deal with stress, improved workplace relationships, greater clarity about roles and responsibilities, and improved productivity.

Accessing External Support

As a Social and Organisational Psychologist I have extensive experience in the voluntary sector, as a volunteer and at Senior Management and Board level. I have been providing both managerial and clinical supervision to professionals working in a range of settings for many years. This service is provided in the Limerick/Tipperary area by Peadar Walsh, a voluntary sector manager who is qualified and experienced in career guidance, life coaching and managing work/life balance. Feel free to call or e-mail either of us for a cost-free confidential chat, if you would like to find out more about External Supervision.

Maeve Halpin, Dublin.     Tel: 087-2877837     Email:
Peadar Walsh, Limerick/Tipperary.  Tel: 087 1427246 / 067 32871  E-mail: