Workplace Stress Prevention and Management

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Introduction

Today, employees in organizations undergo diverse kinds of stress. In most cases, the methods used by the employees to respond to the stress are varied. The way that the employees respond to the stress affects their daily performance in the workplace. During moments of stress, the body responds in a way that is meant to put us on the alert to react with that, which is a threat to us. This reaction influences one’s performance in the workplace at different levels. Today, we are living in a more competitive way than any other time in history. This has made stress play a decisive role in determining our personal success and that of the company as a whole. When stress strikes, it does so without discriminating on gender, age, status or disability. It is therefore important that the management have knowledge on the pertinent issues involved in preventing and management of workplace stress. (Spiers 400)

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Discussion

Over the last few years, stress at work has been found to be on the increase. Stress is believed to be one of the issues that cost employers and society large sums of money in the UK. In a year, stress has been noted to lead to a loss of close to 13 million working days. The loss of working days consequently leads to reduced production hence low profits for organizations. On top of reduced production, organizations have to be content with extra costs incurred from sick pay for the stressed employees. (Hughes& Ferett 430)

To many people, this is not surprising since many UK organizations have long working hours something that leaves the employees stressed. On top of this, the current economic meltdown that is currently affecting the global economy has erased the concept of job security. More employees are being relieved of their duties more than any other time in history. This leaves the remaining few employees with no option but to work hard to fill the left void. In turn, this leads to the risk of developing sickness and stress. This scenario calls for employers to take the issue of Work-Related Stress (WRS) seriously. (Macdonald 120)

Just to begin with, stress is defined as the response that occurs when one is forced to perform a task that does not match his capabilities or needs. It is important for an organization to take this definition into consideration in trying to deal with Work-Related Stress. In trying to deal with stress, there are many hazards that an organization should take into consideration. One of these hazards is demands.

Demand involves issues like the amount of workload that an employee has to undertake, the nature of the job and the working environment. Many employees have to content with handling large volume of work with unrealistic deadlines being fixed for the completion of the job. This leaves the employee drained hence leading to stress. Other employees are forced to work for long hours and in irregular shifts something that drains their bodies. (Clarke &Cooper 172)

Another hazard that employers have to look at while dealing with Work-Related Stress is control. This deals with the level of involvement that an employee has in his duties. A good example of this is if the employee is allowed to set the deadlines or the level of say that he has on the job. Control also incorporates the level of supervision that is present in the job. By being allowed to control how they work, employees are able to put in more effort and improve their mental health hence increasing production. It is important to learn that strict supervision makes the employee to feel that they are not trusted and hence results to a low self-esteem.

It is also important to learn that an employee who has high self-esteem is capable of working hard hence resulting to more production and more profits for the company. On the contrary, an employee who has low self-esteem will mostly feel dejected and might even fall sick as a result. This is something that all employers need to take in to consideration while dealing with work related stress. (Billsberry 340)

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Another model that employers should take into consideration in dealing with work related stress is providing support. These are issues like giving emotional support and encouragement, sponsoring employees among others. This should also be a forum for ensuring that all employees respect and support each other. Instead of criticizing an employee who has erred in his obligations, it is important for the management to give him moral support. This makes him to have a positive view about the job.

This also increases the employees input and consequently leads to increased production. It is important for an organisation to factor in the issue of gender in its operations. In general, women cannot take the same pressure as men and it is important to ensure that they are not pushed too far something that might bring them stress. Still on the issue of support, it is important to assign jobs according to ones ability. This avoids situations where people are given roles that they cannot perform efficiently. A good example of this is supporting and assigning special roles for the physically handicapped and the aged. (Stranks 220)

On top of providing support for employees, it is also important for an organisations management to factor in the issue of relationships in a company. The management of any organisation needs to adopt measures ensuring that no conflict arises in the workplace. It is also important to deal with any unacceptable behaviour arising in the organisation. Some of the unacceptable behaviours that might arise in the workplace are issues like bullying, harassment by both supervisors and fellow staff and conflicts arising among the employees.

This model ensures that workers feel safe in the workplace and that no one is pressurising them to act in a particular manner. This makes them to concentrate on the job at hand something that in turn increases their input. Employers should not neglect this model since it goes a long way in reducing work related stress. (Segal, etal)

For a long time now, understanding one’s role in the organisation has been a model used by employers to ensure that employees do not end up stressed. It is important for an organisation to ensure that once a worker is inducted into the company they clearly know their roles. This strategy makes them to stick by their job description hence avoiding conflicting roles. Many organisations do not outline the roles that an employee is supposed to handle. This makes them to content with performing duties that are outside their jurisdictions. In most cases, some employees might not be versed with jobs that are outside their jurisdictions.

This causes them to struggle to fulfill the assigned roles something that causes them great strain. This aspect causes employees to be stressed something that reduces their production and hence leads to reduced performance for the company. Employers can avoid this outcome by clearly outlining the job description for every employee during job analysis. (Smith, Jaffe-Gil, &Segal)

The last important model that organisations should consider in dealing with work related stress is how they deal with change. In most cases, both small and large organisations do not address the issue of change in companies. In an incident where the staff is afraid of a redundancy occurring within the company, most of them end up being stressed for fear of losing their jobs. If not addressed, this fear might cripple the organisations operations making it to become unproductive.

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This is something that can be allayed if employees understand the need for change in the organisation. This can even motivate them to work hard to contribute to the success of the company. Although sticking to this model might seem unattainable at the first look, it is something that employers can attain if they constantly work towards attaining it. Considering the repercussions that come because of workers being constantly stressed, the six models are issues that an organisation cannot afford to ignore. (Broome & Liewelyn 420)

In order for managers to be able to diagnose and act upon work related stress before it happens, it is important for them to come up with a risk assessment. The first thing that managers can do is to try to locate the hazards. These hazards would include the demands, control, areas where they need to provide support, examining the relationships between the employees, defining the role that employees are supposed to play and most importantly making sure that the employees are not in the dark during the transition process in the organization. In order for an organization to best identify and act upon these hazards, it is important to first gather information on the operations in the company.

One way of gathering such kind of information is by using quantitative method where information pertaining to the productivity, individual performance, and even issues like nonattendance/sickness are recorded. The quantitative study might also record issues like staff turnover, stress audits among other things that might lead to identifying the hazards that might lead to stress among employees.

The other means that managers can use in collecting the required data would be by using qualitative methods. These include carrying out performance appraisals and forming focus groups among other methods. If the quantitative and qualitative methods are properly utilized, they can become a good basis for identifying the hazards that contribute to work related stress. (Cooper, Payne 410)

The other way that managers in an organisation can use to help in identifying hazards that might lead work related stress is by identifying those people who stand the highest risk of being harmed and the means through which the harm can come about. It is important for managers to realize that stress does not choose whom to attack and whom to leave behind. It is therefore important to ensure that the whole management in an organisation understands the issues involved in work related stress.

Everyone in the management should not only be able to understand the issues involved in work related stress but should also be armed with the right knowledge on how to prevent and manage it. Although everyone is at a risk of being affected by work related stress, it is important to realize that some employees stand a greater risk. A good example of these might be members of staff who are forced by circumstances to work far from their loved ones or employees who might be experiencing a trying moment in their personal life. (Riley 230)

The third important step that managers should perform in trying to carry out risk assessment is to appraise the risk to see if enough action is being taken. This is also the point where the management should consider how the factors that contribute to work related stress could affect the organisation. At this level, the management should be able to identify the action being taken and what further actions are needed to deal with the hazards.

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At this level, the management should also be able to point out whose duty it is to carry out this exercise. After this stage, the company is required by law to record and share its findings with individual employees. However, it is prudent to share the information gotten from the study in a careful manner to avoid possible litigation from workers who feel that the company has breached on their privacy. (Khan, Nakajima, & Vanderburg 345)

The last step that the management should do is to monitor and review the progress being made on each hazard. There should be regular reviews especially during notable changes in any department. This review should be carried out after consultation with the employees to ensure that they give their consent. It is important to realize that work related stress does not happen at a designated time of the year and therefore the reviews should be done at a regular basis. This will ensure that the organization is open to any form of stress among its employees and hence know how to deal with it. By being able to identify and deal with the factors that bring about stress, an organization is able to stay ahead of its competitors in terms of profit making hence manage to stay in business. (Feldman 90)

Stress management is an effort that should not only come from the employer but from the employee as well. It is important for employees to learn that in today’s difficult economy, the challenges and demands on the job will forever be on the rise. Given the negative effects of stress, it would be prudent for employees to avoid stress at any cost. Although stress is a normal part of any life, it is important to note that too much stress might affect one’s physical and mental health.

In today’s society where assessing medical healthcare has become a nightmare for many people, it is important to realize that managing stress can help to ease the financial burden in terms of reduced hospital visits. This should be a wake up call for any employee to work hard to ensure that they are in sound mental health. Considering the current troubled economy, it is important to realize that budget cuts and layoffs are not issues that any employee can wish away. It is therefore important for employees to learn of new ways of managing the stress that comes during times of economic crisis. (Sutherland &Cooper 305)

Despite the management’s efforts to alleviate stress, it is important for employees to learn that stress affects them in a big way and they should therefore be on the forefront in ensuring that they are not stressed. The management should take an initiative of educating the employees on the best way that they can use to reduce stress.

Although the company ends up with reduced production by having stressed employees, the employee also loses since the stress affects their interaction with other people. It is important for employees to learn that if they make an effort to stay positive in the midst of a hard economic time, then they will be less affected by circumstances around them. (Jones, Bright, & Clow 308)

Conclusion

For a long time, stress has been a leading cause of reduced production in many organizations. This therefore calls for increased measures from the management to ensure that employees are not affected by stress. In the current economic climate where layoffs and budget cuts have been a daily occurrence, stress has been on the increase. It is therefore important for organizations to realize that extra measures are needed to deal with the stress brought about by employees being uncertain of their future in employment.

This calls for the management to enact a model that can identify and deal with the hazards that bring about stress in a company. It is also important for employees to learn that stress also affects their health and social life and they should therefore be on the forefront in looking for ways to cope with stress.

References

Billsberry, Joh. The effective manager: perspectives and illustrations. Ed. SAGE, 1996.300-348. Print.

Broome, Annabel, &Liewelyn, Susan. Health psychology: process and applications. 2nd ed. Nelson Thornes, 1995. 399-427. Print.

Clarke, Sharon, &Cooper, Cary. Managing the risk of workplace stress: health and safety hazards. Ed. Routledge, 2004.121-197. Print.

Cooper, Cary, &Payne, Ray. Causes, coping, and consequences of stress at work.Ed. Wiley, 1988. 398-418. Print.

Feldman, Robert. Understanding Stress. Ed. F. Watts, 1992. 78-94. Print.

Hughes, Phil, & Ferett, Ed. Introduction to Health and Safety at Work: The Handbook for the NEBOSH National General Certificate.3rd ed. Butterworth-Heinemann, 2007. 415-449. Print.

Jones, Fiona, Bright, Jim, & Clow, Angela. Stress: myth, theory, and research. Ed. Prentice Hall, 2001, 296-310. Print

Khan, Namir, Nakajima, Nina,& Vanderburg, Willem. Healthy work: an annotated bibliography. Scarecrow Press, 2004. 300-359. Print.

Macdonald, Lynda. Wellness at work: protecting and promoting employee health and wellbeing. CIPD Publishing, 2005. 89-196. Print.

Riley, James. Rising life expectancy: a global history. Ed. Cambridge University Press, 2001. 200-243. Print.

Segal, Jearne, Horwitz, Laura, Smith, Melinda, Jaffe-Gil, Ellen, &Segal, Robert. Stress at work. 2008. Web.

Smith, Melinda, Jaffe-Gil, Ellen, &Segal, Robert. Stress Management. 2008. Web.

Spiers, Carole. Tolley’s Managing Stress in the Workplace. Ed.Gulf Professional Publishing, 2003. 398-448. Print.

Stranks, Jeremy. Stress at work: management and prevention. Ed. Butterworth-Heinemann, 2005. 199-232. Print.

Sutherland, Valerie, &Cooper, Cary. Understanding stress: a psychological perspective for health professionals. Chapman and Hall, 1990. 269-307. Print.

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