Using Our Work Stress Lessons from 2020

Marcus J. Fila, Ph.D.
3 min readJan 1, 2021
Photo by Sean Stratton on Unsplash

With all the doom and gloom associated with 2020, it’s hard to think of much, or anything positive to take away from it. You can call me the nauseating optimist, but if learning in a way that shapes us and makes us more aware, and more resilient counts for positivity, then there is a significant silver lining to what has happened to work in 2020, and how that can lower our work stress in 2021 (and beyond).

It’s been a tough year for work, professional development, and employment; so what have we learned in 2020, other than what huge devastation can come from a global virus, and the reaction to (or provisions made around) it?

If we look beyond the end of our noses, at the organization we work for, and the industry that organization operates in, we have learned a thing or two about the resilience of both. How has your organization fared compared to others in the same industry this year? How quickly can it bounce back compared to rivals? How competitive is your industry in times of trouble (does it provide relatively safe harbor, or is it sink or swim due to contraction?).

What about your boss? How has he/she valued you when the chips have been down? I think we can all say we have learned at least on thing about our supervisor this year — whether good or bad, these lessons can stay with us and inform us in our future decision making.

Linked heavily with your boss, and the overall organization, how has how you carry out your job changed this year? Have all these changes been accidental, reactive, left to you to decide; or has there been some intentional thinking behind them? Have you been afforded levels of trust, and autonomy, beyond what you usually would? If so, if you have stepped up and made the best of those, why should they be taken from you when things turn a corner? Make a case for the value you can provide with your greater independence.

What about coworkers, and the support they bring? Who has stepped up for you this year? Who has fallen off the face of the Earth? Who has not had your back? Again, as and when normality starts to return, these lessons can stay in our top pocket and inform us.

These lessons scratch the surface of another webinar I am hosting, on Jan 19th. It’s called “Lessons from 2020 to Lower Work Stress



Marcus J. Fila, Ph.D.

Work Stress speaker, researcher, author, and consultant to organizations and individuals. Psychologist, and management professor. Visit