Occupational Health and Safety – Human Resource Management

Introduction

Many scholars of human resources management define stress as the reaction of employees to a frightening condition. Some scholars define stress as a condition created when forces that disturb stability or generate tension act upon the body structure, system, or organism. In other words, stress refers to the outcome of any psychological, physical, social, financial, or another variable that needs a reaction or change. In the modern management of human resources, stress plays both positive and negative roles. Some analysts are of the view that it challenges employees to come up with what is believed to be unachievable.

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However, some scholars are of the view it affects the normal functioning of the personnel in case it cannot be handled. In this regard, office tension is perceived as destructive mental and bodily reactions, which might occur in case an inconsistency surfaces between the demands of the job and the extent of control that the institution would put on the member of staff. This means that the requirements of the job and the ineffective control measures put in place by the management might be the major cause of stress in the place of work for any employee. It is observed that causes of stress in the place of work are numerous meaning that stress does not originate from a single event. Its impacts are extensive since they affect the normal functioning of the employee, the performance of the organization, and the trust among customers.

This section of the paper aims at the discussion the major causes of stress at the workplace, the sources, and the categories of various stressors. There are several reasons why employees may end up being stress, including redundancy of the job, the risk of layoff owing to the economic meltdown, and the new demand urging employees to take up over time because of cutbacks. In some organizations, employees are given targets that seem unachievable, which would strain employees as they try to accomplish them.

Due to this, issues related to employee turnover, inefficiency, illness, and even death might be witnessed. Stress has several effects, such as absenteeism among employees, sickness, excessive consumption of alcohol, the emergence of petty politics, poor decision making, lack of concern, and lethargy. The paper will talk about the job stressors that result in some of the factors that act as sources of stress.

Causes, Sources, and categories of Stress

As already mentioned in the introduction, stress might have a negative effect on the wellbeing of the personnel in case contingency measures are not adopted in time. Scholars of psychology suggest that human bodies are designed and programmed based on individual wishes. This means that an individual should be prepared to handle stress, both at work and at home. When people are faced with problems, they either respond by fighting or running away (flight) from the problem. Regrettably, the body engages in a tussle with a number of stressful events in the same way, which is a challenge to several persons.

If an individual experiences stress constantly, the body system is activated to fight back, but it does not have the chance to turn off meaning that the outcome is negative. For instance, the failure of the body to respond might lead to hypertension, high metabolic rate, increased cholesterol, and faster clotting. For employees working with machines, such as drivers and operators of heavy machines in factories, stress might end up causing poor sleep, accidents, and depression. For policymakers, stress leads to poor decision-making, poor judgment, strains, and depression.

One of the categories of job stressors that might lead to stress includes the specifics of the job, such as nature and the requirements. Employees might fail to establish the exact amount of work required per day or per week leading to overload or even under-load. Each employee is expected to accomplish certain work before being allowed to leave, but this might be problematic in case the employee does not understand what is expected of him or her.

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In some organizations, an employee might be recruited to perform a certain task without considering his or her academic capacity or experience. This would definitely bring about stress since the worker might not work at the same pace as his or her workmates. The employee might be stressed in case of the management shifts the working hours without informing him or her. This would be in the form of extending the working hours without proper consultation.

In some scenarios, an employee might be introduced to a new job without offering adequate training, which would automatically lead to stress. In this regard, the management should always ensure that employees are trained adequately before being introduced to a new job since inadequate training is the direct source of stress. Employees should be encouraged to work together since cases of isolation would cause stress. Finally, a well-performing employee ought to be appreciated in order to encourage him or her to continue with the same spirit. Lack of appreciation would be the source of stress.

The second class of stressors is the position of the member of staff in the institution, which might always be the basis of anxiety. For instance, the employee might be in conflict with the type of the role assigned to him or her by the management. Each employee should be assigned a role based on his educational qualification and experience, but if this does not happen, an employee might be over-burdened, leading to stress.

In some cases, the role assigned to an employee might be conflicting with his or her career objective, which might be an issue that leads to stress. Some managers might allocate some ambiguous roles to employees without knowing. Such types of roles might be unclear meaning that the responsibility of the employee would be imprecise as well. In this regard, an employee should be allowed to undertake a role based on his qualification and experience. In modern society, employees are so much concerned with the issue of career development. Therefore, the management should define the level of responsibility for each employee to prevent role duplication. The efficiency of the employee would be reduced in case he or she undertakes a role that is already being handled by another employee.

Some scholars consider career development a category of the stressors meaning that it should be taken into consideration when formulating policies in the organization. There are reported cases of over promotion and even under promotion meaning that, some employees are given powers that they do not deserve while others are denied the opportunity of showing their managerial dexterities. This would amount to stress since an employee would feel discriminated and subjugated when an ineffective colleague is given more powers and responsibilities. Moreover, employees are concerned with the issue of job security meaning that they always demand an improved contract and terms of service.

Even though job security is not an issue of concern to many employees, the global economic meltdown, forces many to be concerned since there are no jobs or business opportunities because of the weakening of economies. Unclear terms of service result in stressful events among employees since they would be concerned with their income. Studies show that some employees are simply concerned with their career development hence they always demand opportunities that would help them fulfill their interests in the cost-effective way. Finally, job satisfaction is another reason for stress among employees. This means that the organization should provide an enabling environment that would help employees fulfill their ambition, as they accomplish their organizational tasks.

Scholars have proved through research that an interpersonal relationship is one of the stressors that results to stress at the place of work. Generally, relationships at the place of work play a critical role in bringing employees together towards the accomplishment of the organizational task. If employees fail to relate and interact among themselves, it would be difficult to realize the aims and objectives of the organizations. In some instances, supervisors enter into conflicts with their juniors petty issues that could be resolved through dialogue. This might lead to stressful situations, particularly when the supervisors aim at frustrating the junior employee through the disapproval of work.

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The relationship among coworkers might be worse, leading to stress. Moreover, hobbled relationships or strained interactions might be the source of stress since an employee is left to accomplish a task that would be better achieved through group work. The issue of subordination is stressful in itself because the best-performing employee would still have to report to an ineffective manager, who might be indifferent to the sufferings of the majority in the organization.

Since some employees might be under the influence of the illicit drug, they might end up being violent. In other cases, the bosses might harass junior officers, which results to stress among junior employees who might be concerned with their safety. Without proper coordination and cooperation, employees might end up losing trust with their peers and even bosses. This would strain the role of the management, leading to stress. In this regard, the management needs to put up systems and measures to ensure that any indecent behavior is identified and dealt with accordingly.

Organizational structure and the working environment is another stressor that leads to stress. For instance, the management should involve junior employees in making decisions that affect their normal work. In some organizations, employees are only introduced to new rules without even involving their leaders in formulating them. This behavior results in stress, especially senior officers who assume that they are part of the organization. The management style plays a critical role in managing employees since some styles are stressful while others promote teamwork. For instance, democratic styles of leadership, such as transformational leadership, are encouraged because they resolve issues that might lead to stress. Autocratic style of leadership is the worst because it does not respect the role of employees in the organization.

The organization should have a clear communication network that encourages proper information flow. Poor communication patterns result in stress since some employees would not obtain information at the right time and in the right form. Moreover, inadequate systems to respond to concerns raised by employees would be another cause of stress. If an individual feels aggrieved, he or she should report the issue to the relevant authority, but if the reporting system were poor, the individual would prefer not to report the case for fear of retribution.

The organization is expected to engage all employees before implementing change programs. In some organizations, adjusting to change is the biggest issue that might affect the performance of the employees since some are always opposed to it. In this regard, each employee should be taken through a process of change at a reasonable pace top to avoid any stress. If the management lacks fairness in addressing employee conflicts, many would be stressed. In this regard, each employee should be retreated based on merit.

Finally, work-life balance is considered another stressor that leads to stress in the organization. An individual would face serious challenges in case he or she fails to strike a balance between social life and economic life. In some cases, an individual might lack time to interact with his or her family members, which leads to stress. For an individual to live a normal life, the balance should be struck between work life and social life. The individual should have adequate leisure time since it plays a role in rejuvenating an employee.

Importance of Workforce Wellness in the Workplace

In any modern organization, employees are the most important asset meaning that the management should always ensure that their health is preserved at all times. The employees are even important than the products manufactured and the machines in the manufacturing process. This implies that without the employees, the organization would not achieve its desired objectives. Many managers in organizations view medical benefits awarded to employees as a waste of resources, but in the real sense, it is considered an investment in the end. If medical insurance policies were utilized in the best way, they would increase the profitability of the organization since employees would be more productive.

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In fact, proper care of employees reduces the cases of employee turnover and would tend to create an enabling environment for productiveness. In this regard, it is observed that the wellness of employees contributes to the productivity of the organization, which ensures that organizational goals are achieved within the desired time. Some scholars are opposed to the idea of helping employees to maintain their physical fitness since it is perceived as an unnecessary intrusion.

This implies that the management should be cautious in its attempt to improve the wellness of the management. For instance, employees would not appreciate the organizational effort to reduce smoking, drinking, and the consumption of junk among the workforce. It is a big challenge to formulate wellness programs that would please everyone in the organization while at the same time maintaining the desired standards that would ensure goal achievement in the organization.

Modern employees are faced with several challenges, one of them being the accumulation of adequate income that would enable them to meet the requirements of their families. Many employees spend more time working to achieve their personal goals through overtime. The management should, therefore, implement policies related to employee wellness since it benefits both the employer and the employee in various capacities. Some employees are unable to access quality healthcare, even though they have health insurance policies. Many companies appreciate the fact that a strong correlation between employee wellness and their productivity exists.

Employee wellness could be physical or mental hence the management should consider the capacity of its employees before attempting to implement the wellness policies. Part-time employees face various health problems, yet they are the pillar of the organization. In this case, a number of organizations are finding it relevant to help such employees maintain healthy living for improved productivity. In most companies, issues related to obesity, excessive smoking, substance abuse, and alcoholism, are known to interfere with the health of employees. Some of these issues present challenges employees and their employers since they impeded goal achievement, as they are known to lower productivity. An obese employee would not be as productive as a non-obese employee would be. Health complications, such as the ones mentioned above, combine with other factors, such as lack of health insurance cover, to bring about ineffectiveness and inefficiency among employees.

The issues that employees face as far as their health is concerned is not to be blamed on employers, but instead employees since they do not follow the set rules and regulations that would guarantee their wellness at workplaces. Many employees are not in a position to assess and make use of the available healthcare benefits to improve their performance. Companies are often willing to invest heavily on the wellness of employees since are the pillars of the organization, but this would be a waste of resources in case employees are reluctant to cooperate.

For instance, the organization might be willing to do everything within its powers to improve the health of employees, yet employees might come up with countermeasures to resist the changes. An employee would do everything to resist the efforts to eliminate smoking and heavy drinking in the organization, but the employee would be having a different agenda aimed at encouraging smoking and drinking. The company might end up losing hope and would indeed view the effort to promote wellness as a waste of resources. Employees and employers are encouraged to seek the services of professionals in the field of healthcare to ensure that a win-win situation is reached instead of playing a zero-sum game.

Professionals in the healthcare sector seek to promote the wellbeing of professionals, which means that they have adequate experience that would be of great help to both parties. Health insurance professionals could come up with the best medical cover policies and would as well go a notch higher to educate employees on the best ways to reap maximally from what is provided by the company. This shows that education plays a critical role in maintaining employee wellness.

Many organizational employees are often ignorant about the availability of effectiveness in healthcare programs. Some are unable to adapt to the new insurance policies while others are simply unable to make full utilization of the programs. In order to ensure that employees improve their performance, they should be educated on the importance of health benefits offered by the organization. This would allow them to take advantage of such programs in their places of work.

Many employers insist on the wellness of employees mainly because of the issue of disease of depression. Even though many scholars do not see this as a matter of urgency as far as employee wellness is concerned, it is known to play a key role in preventing employee turnover. Many employees lose their jobs owing to the fact that they are unable to undertake their duties as the provisions of the company rules and regulations.

Once an individual loses a job because of continued underperformance, chances are high that such an individual would end up being depressed. An obese employee might not undertake his or her duties as required by the company rules hence the management will have nothing to do but insist on firing such an individual. The management would be reluctant to bear the costs of unhealthiness. For instance, the chances of an obese woman contracting serious heart diseases are twice as compared to a non-obese woman. Obesity is closely related to other diseases that are life-threatening, such as stroke and heart attack.

An obese man has very high chances of contracting heart attack as compared to a healthy man. In other words, the organization is often cautious when it comes to employee wellness because of the costs associated with serious diseases, such as stroke and heart attack. When hiring or searching for a potential employee to accomplish an organizational task, individuals with poor eating habits and smoking behaviors are often excluded to reduce the chances of recruiting an individual who would be a burden to an organization.

The organization is encouraged to maintain high health standards among its employees since it is extremely difficult to find and hire an effective employee who would be relied upon to represent the organization at each level. The costs of training an employee in modern society are quite high meaning that once the personnel is trained, it should be maintained at all costs. Ensuring that high standards of health are maintained is just one of the ways of maintaining the proven talent.

It would be a loss to the organization if a highly effective employee were fired simply because of undiagnosed depression. Some employees would develop a tendency of missing work in case their health is unstable. For instance, obese employment would face difficulties waking up early in the morning, leading to lateness or even absenteeism. Some would as well perform dismally because their bodies cannot allow them to do more work. Based on this, it is the responsibility of each employee to ensure that high health standards are maintained while the role of the organization is to provide adequate information and an enabling environment to ensure that employees are healthy.

How to make the workplace safer and less physically and psychologically stressful

If the organization does not take proper care, the employee can easily be jaded since they work for over 1900 hours each year. Professionals in the field of mental health suggest that certain factors could be adopted to avert the situation, which would consequently encourage employees to produce the best results. One of the factors that the management should consider is offering psychological support to the employees. In fact, scholars have proved through research that encouraging the staff to support each other safeguards their mental wellbeing. In this regard, the management should always listen to the pleas of employees and offer much-needed help in case they are in need.

If an employee notices the management is supportive, they tend to be more loyal and they would be satisfied with the way they are treated. Another way of improving employee welfare is by designing an organizational culture that promotes honesty, trust, and fairness in the way the affairs are run in the firm. Healthy corporate cultures are known to promote mental wellbeing and contribute significantly to employee gratification at the place of work. In this regard, any organization wishing to maintain the wellbeing of its employees ought to come up with a clear leadership style that would meet the expectations of all employees. This means that an employee should comprehend the meaning of success. This would in fact promote employee morale and trust. If the management employs a leadership style that is indifferent to the sufferings of employees, it would perhaps lead to frustrations and stress.

Organizations operating based on the past managerial styles would hardly achieve their objectives since junior employees are rarely respected in whatever they do. Research shows that organizational cultures value respect among employees boost the morale of employees. This prevents absenteeism and results in the spirit of teamwork. In other words, it is suggested that an organization should adopt the tenets of civility since they encourage fairness and job satisfaction among employees.

The management needs to promote programs that encourage growth and development among employees. In other words, each employee should be given a chance to show his or her knowledge and prove that he or she has adequate knowledge that would promote the welfare of the organization. Based on this, teamwork and interpersonal skills should be given the chance to guide employees in achieving personal and organizational objectives. If employees are allowed to work as a team, chances are high that they would develop similar ambitions, which are extremely important to the survival of the organization. Teamwork and freedom encourage innovation and invention in the firm meaning that employees would be in a position to handle current and future challenges if given an opportunity to work on their own.

Whenever an employee proves that he can perhaps perform better, the management should consider giving promotion to such an employee. In other words, the management should put in place mechanisms that would ensure better-performing employees are recognized and rewarded according to their efforts. If people are recognized and promoted based on their abilities, the workforce would be motivated, self-assured and would work hard to exceed the set targets. For this to happen, each employee should be involved in policy formulation. This would prove to them that they have influence in the organization, unlike imposing policies to them.

The leadership of the organization should act as a good role model to influence the behavior of employees positively. Empowerment of employees results in job satisfaction, high morale among employees, and improved corporate culture. Employees working in an organization that does not value consultation are likely to go through stress. Some scholars have proved through research that professional management of the workload leads to less stress and depression in the organization. In this regard, the management should evaluate the capability of each employee and come up with ways that would ensure that employees are not over-burdened.

In addition, the management should help employees in striking a balance between their social life and work life. Therefore, the management should not attempt to force work policies, such as overtime to employees who have other responsibilities in their lives. Finally, the management is encouraged to protect their employees psychologically to ensure their wellbeing. In this regard, an employee should be free to express his or her views without the fear of retribution.

Conclusion

Stress is known to cause many problems in the organization since an employee would not be in a position to perform his or her role effectively. The management should always come up with mechanisms that would allow it to learn the mental and physical statuses of employees. Understanding the wellness of employees would allow the management to draft suitable programs that would be of great importance in resolving employee stress.

However, this is not an easy task since an employee would be unwilling to share his or her problem with the management. This means that the management should consistently formulate wellness programs, which should be made compulsory to all employees. Research shows that maintaining employee wellness benefits both the employer and the employee. For an employee, he or she would be able to achieve personal needs. For the organization, the best workforce would be retained for long meaning that hiring and training costs are reduced. For all these to be achieved, the organization must employ some of the strategies discussed in the previous section, one of them is adopting a modern leadership style that is related to transformational leadership.

Reference List

Butts, M. et al., “Individual Reactions to High Involvement Work Processes: Investigating the Role of Empowerment and Perceived Organizational Support”, Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, vol. 14, no. 2, 2009, pp. 122-136. Web.

Cooper, C., Dewe, P., and Porter, M., “Organizational Communication: A Review and Critique, London, SAGE, 2001. Web.

Saxby, C., “Barriers to Communication. Evansville Business Journal, vol. 2, no. 3, 2008, pp. 2. Web.

Temple, H., and Gillespie, B., “Taking Charge of Work and Life”, ABA Journal, vol. 95, no. 2, 2009, pp. 31-32. Web.

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