Fifth Most Stressful Job In America
Stress, as defined by the CareerCast Jobs Rated methodology, “is determined by 11 factors: travel, deadlines, working in the public eye, competitiveness, physical demands, environmental conditions, hazards encountered, the life of oneself or others at risk, meeting and interacting with customers and/or the public, and the potential for job growth.”
In addition to the job stress experienced by event coordinators, as determined by CareerCast, is the stress of knowing others don’t view the job as stressful. Most people are extremely unlikely to rate an event coordinator job as highly stressful or believe it when they’re told the position is a very stressful one.
Reasons Job Has High Stress
So why is being an events wrangler high-stress work?
The importance of the 11 factors above will vary for different types of events, and even a psychologist can only give educated guesses why various factors cause stress for different people. Based on my experiences, both as an events wrangler and as an event goer, here’s my take on the most impactful stress inducers for this job.
- Time is of the essence
- # 1 stress factor for most events
- Every event is a one-time opportunity to do things right
- Strict deadlines, many time-sensitive components
- Long hours prior to and during event
- Limited budgets
- Low profit margin on for-profit events
- Hard to quantify benefits and justify budget for non-profit events
- Budgets tight if customer is company or organization; even tighter if customers are individuals or families
- Unrealistic expectations
- Everything will happen exactly how the “customer” envisions the perfect event
- Customer vision has no conflicting elements that ignore reality
- Everyone will show up on time
- Weather will cooperate — nothing but blue skies…
- Everything can be done inexpensively
- Event is low priority for everyone but event coordinator (and bride or party host)
- Decision maker delays — they put off making decisions
- Attendees register late
- Speakers or vendors cancel or make major changes
- Unknown and uncontrollable factors
- How many attendees will come
- New vendor performance
- Event goers can span a wide range
- Diverse needs, e.g. diet, temperature, sound levels, disability accommodations
- Different expectations
- Impossible to please everyone
- Emotions at events
- Customer or event goers can get very emotional
- Event coordinator needs to be empathetic and be perceived as empathetic
- Event coordinator needs to stay calm when others aren’t
- Job calls for someone to plan and execute a smooth, successful event on-time and within budget, which requires someone with the following unusual personality mixture:
- Understands customer vision for event and can translate into reality
- Excellent time management
- Detail oriented
- Great people skills, able to calm and manage emotions of diverse group of people
- Analytical and resourceful problem solver
- Solid leadership skills
- Able to do public speaking
Prevent And Reduce Stress
The best way to prevent unnecessary stress is to be well prepared, be realistic, and be satisfied with your best efforts. Beyond that, here are a few tips or strategies for reducing stress.
- Good communications
- From the early stages of discussing a potential event until it’s over and the follow-up is completed, communicate thoroughly and clearly with everyone involved in the event.
- Make sure the communication tools work well for others and that they “hear” you.
- Build strong core team for events
- Employees from your organization
- Vendors and contractors outside your organization
- Volunteers, as appropriate for the event
- Understand your audience
- Identify audience demographics, e.g. gender, ethnic background, age, education and professional level, income range, etc.
- Determine audience interests, needs and wants, as well as expectations for event, i.e. reason for coming.
- Understand attendee personal and organizational roles.
- Be prepared, but be flexible
- Expect minor bumps in the road , As either Helmuth von Moltke or Sun Tzu said, “no battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” Iterate quickly and accept that a few things will not go as planned.
- Develop written step-by-step event action plan with timeline (checklists), list of prioritized tasks.
- Have backup plans for critical items; speakers, internet access and WiFi, AV, venue, backup marketing in case event registrations are low.
- When the unexpected happens, adjust the event if resource limitations require it.
- Make time to take care of your physical and mental health
- Good nutrition
- Limited stimulants, such as caffeine, and empty calories
- Adequate sleep, even in a strange city or country
- Exercise, even if on the road or if it seems like there’s no time
- Daily de-stressing, as well as just before event starts and after it ends
- Special moments at each event and planned benefits for yourself
- Step back, take a deep breath, and pause
- Use the mindset and “quiet moment” practices of mindfulness meditation, t’ai chi and non-duality; don’t hold too tightly to the “good” moments and don’t resist too strongly the “bad” moments, and be kind to yourself.
- Internalize and use the serenity prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
Not all stress is bad, but unnecessary stress usually benefits no one.
Let the winds of time blow away the rough moments at events. Build your event memories on new relationships, serendipitous moments, warm laughter, smiling attendees and gracious customers.