Ombuds' Corner: Time and Stress Management

In this series, the Bulletin aims to explain the role of the Ombuds at CERN by presenting practical examples of misunderstandings that could have been resolved by the Ombuds if he had been contacted earlier. Please note that, in all the situations we present, the names are fictitious and used only to improve clarity. 


Ted* had been working in the Organization for many years. Thanks to his expertise, he was promoted to a position where, in addition to his usual daily tasks, he also had to manage strategic projects involving close contacts with people in different Departments. At the same time, the personnel in his unit had been reduced, so Ted had to deal with many urgent requests from people bursting into his office at all hours of the day.

Ted found himself in a stressful situation, having to manage his strategic projects, which required deep thought and reflection, while constantly being interrupted by people needing his help, even for a few minutes. His professional conscience told him that he had to be accountable for everything, so he didn't bring the problem to his hierarchy but started to use lunch times and do overtime to get through his work. This situation continued for about two months until Ted started to lose sleep and lose weight, constantly worried about his multiple jobs.

During a medical examination, he was so down that he started to cry and said he couldn't stand it any longer. He then acknowledged that he was suffering from burnout and had to take sick leave.

The earlier problems are voiced, the easier a solution can be found. If Ted had come to the Ombuds, for example, an improvement in his work schedule could have been worked out and/or he could have been offered training in managing time and stress.

* Names and story are purely fictitious.

Contact the Ombuds early!

by Vincent Vuillemin