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Well-being in the workplace for designers

Designers join the UX design field because they firmly believe that the values and ideals of human-centricity are paramount in this field. Yet, designers often realize that even though they aim to design human-centered products, their work routine is far from what’s called human-first.

The companies force designers to do more & do it faster and don’t care how designers feel about that. The chronic stress that designers experience in their work typically leads to anxiety and depression, which is terrible for the person and the business.

This article will explore typical problems that designers face daily and find solutions that businesses can offer.



Exploring typical problems that cause stress

Chronic stress is a widespread problem among designers. Some designers deny or suspend negative emotions, but it cannot be a good long-term strategy since, ultimately, all negative emotions stay in the human body and lead to health issues.


Let’s discuss what causes stress:


Regular fights for what’s good for the user

UX designers are advocates for their users. They aim to design the best possible experience for people, and to implement such a solution requires a lot of effort. Designers need to conduct research, find the right solution and persuade stakeholders that this solution is the right one. The last one can be tricky.

Designers typically feel like they’ve stuck between user needs and business needs, intending to find a sweet spot. Since most companies are for-profit, when businesses have to choose between good UX and more profit, the balance is typically shifted to more profit. No need to say that when designers constantly have to fight for resources, it creates a long-lasting negative effect on them. And when designers fail that battle, it feels like they’ve failed the mission they were hired for — to create the best possible user experience.



Never-ending competition

The system we live in fosters competition — we compete for better living conditions. Yet, living under the pressure of constant competition can be very stressful. When we constantly compare ourselves to other people and work harder and harder to achieve the next level, we can end up feeling miserable. It is especially when you just recently moved to the UX design field. You might end up saying “My design is horrible. I don’t deserve to be a part of this team.”



Constant work overload

Project planning mistakes can easily lead to scope expansion and work overload for designers. Not all people are willing to verbalize that they need more time to complete the work. All too often, scope changes go unnoticed by the management, but they negatively impact UX professionals since it makes them work extra hours and breaks their work-life balance. The work that demands success at all costs cannot be considered any good.



Finding solutions

Most of the problems mentioned above are rooted in corporate culture. It’s possible to solve them only when you change the culture in which people work. Management should be passionate about making the workplace work better for humans simply because employees’ emotional state is directly related to their performance.



Help to achieve work-life balance

The systemic underrating of rest can easily lead to burnout. It’s very hard to recover from a burnout state — it will take weeks, months, or even years to do it. One-at-time activities such as family retreats or team buildings cannot counterbalance burnout caused by months or years of work under pressure.



Consider personality

All designers have different paces. It doesn’t make much sense to push a designer to create assets in one day when you know that it will take at least a week for them. It also can feel discouraging to work in environments where speed is more valued over the quality of results. Ultimately, projects define our pace, so assigning the right person to the right project is essential.



Be in touch

In many large companies, management communicates with employees only on special occasions (i.e., during performance reviews). But the problem can happen at any moment, and it’s essential to track them as early as possible. Regular one-to-one meetings with team managers can help you with that. They can give managers a lot of insights into what people are doing and how they are feeling.



Be careful with feedback

Providing feedback (especially negative feedback) is never easy. Many designers take criticism personally. Receiving negative feedback might feel like a cold shower, and people react to the feedback differently —some people can even demonstrate aggressive behavior. When providing feedback, it’s important to say out loud, “I don’t criticize you, I just want to help you,” and stay away from comparing her work with others. These simple words have an impressive positive effect on how people comprehend the feedback.



Conclusion

The world we live in is becoming more and more complex and challenging. We face many challenges daily, and it’s really hard to overcome them alone. That’s why well-being should be a top priority for any organization. Today, when designers choose the company they want to work at, they typically evaluate the organization’s culture. A healthy culture that prioritizes the well-being of a person has more chances to succeed.




Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash