Describe workplace stress. How organization can manage stress?
Stress is a psychological condition where an individual faces certain setback to his work or activity due to factors both internal and external. According to DeCenzo and Robbins, “Stress is a dynamic condition in which an individual confronts an opportunity, constraint or demand related to what he or she desires, and for which the outcome is perceived as both uncertain and important. (DeCenzo & Robbins, 2010, p. 354)”
Workplace stress can be both positive and negative. When an employee is psyched to complete a certain project (eg: a project presentation) to come to fruition this can induce stress. But this is considered positive as this type of stress fuels the employee’s drive to work harder to perform better. On the other hand overload of work when delegated to an employee to be completed in a given time frame will induce a negative stress which will inhibit their drive to perform better.
Before managing stress it is important to understand what causes stress in a workplace. Understanding these triggers creating stress can help in determining the contributing factor and strategy to manage them. The stress contributing factors are Task Demand, Role Demands, Interpersonal Demands, Organizational Structure, Organizational Leadership and Personal Factors.
After understanding the stress contributors’, managers can work towards addressing stress in the workplace through the following ways.
Job Design: Job design is a term that loosely explains the job responsibility, authority and the working condition of the staff in the workplace. For example if staffs do not have autonomy to exercise authority for certain decision making or their job tasks are not clear then this could lead to stress. Similarly the working environment if is not healthy like lighting, heating, noisy then the stress can build up.
Targets and Performance Standards: Expectations from a staff’s job that is too large to be completed by one person can induce stress. Unreachable targets, overambitious performance standards or unclear standards will trigger stress in an employee. Therefore while setting targets and performance standards they must be both viable and reacheable.
Job Placement: Understanding the capability of an employee is very important. For example capacity based on academic and experiences are two different measurements for an HR manager. Thus job placement based on these measures can reduce stress as the job standard caters to the capacity of the staffs.
Career Development: In this modern era human resource planning is an important aspect for the growth and sustainability of any organization. Thus career development of staffs methodically according to their capacity can reduce stress of staff feeling left out.
Performance management process: A process that enables a free flow of communication between the manger and the staff concerning their problems and future expectations can also reduce the stress level.
Counselling: Counselling can be either formal or informal. For example a senior comforting a junior for small conflicts or stress induced aggravation could also be a counselling. Most organizations have set channels for an employee to address their problems. There may have suggestion boxes or can come directly to an HR and talk about their problems. Sharing problems to managers can help reduce stress.
Anti-bullying campaigns: “Hence, bullying not only generates negative emotions, but it also seems to reduce the positive ones, and in effect reduces job satisfaction and organizational commitment while increasing the targets’ intentions to seek employment elsewhere. Glasø, L., PhD, & Notelaers, G., PhD. (2012).” Bullying is directly related to the emotional wellbeing of a person in an organization and directly affects his working. Thus anti-bullying campaigns, trainings and group works can help reduce bullying reducing stress.
Organizational Structure: Some leadership is based on fear which directly increases stress. Thus leadership values and types should also be changed to manage stress.
Personal Stress: Employees bring their personal problems to organization. They are stress and on edge at these times. HR needs to understand that a personal reason also plays a vital role in stress. With conversation and counselling this personal stress can be reduced to some level. Work flexibility at these times could also help with stress management.
These are some ways in which stress can be managed. If stress is left unmanaged it could lead to burnout and decrease in staff performance leading to less productivity and even loss in an organization.
DeCenzo, D., & Robbins, S. P. (2010). Stress. In S. P. David DeCenzo, Fundamentals of Human Resource Management (p. 436). America: John Wiley & Sons Inc.
Glasø, L., PhD, & Notelaers, G., PhD. (2012). Workplace bullying, emotions, and outcomes. Violence and Victims, 27(3), 360-77. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/1020639291?accountid=158986
Stress is an emotional, imaginary state of mind where an individual wants to flee or fight against the problem. Whereas workplace stress is the similar condition as stress but the resultant of the condition of the workplace itself (van Dixhoorn, 1997). It is considered as one of the constant source of stress for many working individuals (Armstrong, 2012). Evaluating the situation with an example:
John is a marketing manager of Google. He’s working on a marketing plan of whose deadline got prepended by two weeks. And, on top of that his boss shouted at him for not being aware of the deadline change. John would have had a good week had it not been for the following situation. But, the change in deadline and the boss shouting at him both caused stress.
Stress at work reduces the ability of employee to give their best for certain things or reduce the output quality so it’s important for the company to help their employees manage stress at work. Managing stress also helps to improve mental and physiological health of an employee. Here are some of the ways based on what organization can manage stress considering a situation of an employee:
- Job Redesign: Considering that James is an assistant manager at KFC (restaurant) and is facing stress as he’s undermined by another assistant manager on things like planning worker schedules and providing orders. The organization can reduce James’s stress by redesigning the individual’s job role by proving him with more authority and to plan subordinates work schedules without interference from the other assistant manager or anyone. In addition to that, providing training program to develop certain skills of his for further growth within the organization in the future helps reduce the stress. The stress caused due to job conflict is resolved with proper job redesign.
- Goal setting: Setting a fixed goal helps improve the motivational level and job performance of an individual. If the manager decides to add incentives for meeting the goals, it helps relieve the stress of the employees as they’ll be receiving certain rewards for meeting the goal and most importantly, they’re aware of what they have to accomplish with their role.
- Role Negotiation: Considering that Marry is a marketing manager for Yahoo, who is very stressed with her job as she thinks her expectations aren’t met at the job. She thinks that her time will be best spent doing creative works but she’s often covered with numbers and research based works. The organization can resolve the situation by entering role negotiation with Marry to get her out from this stressful situation. In this negotiation, her expectations and role for the job is compared to cooperate expectation and roles; if any differences are found negotiation happens. If the management realizes the creative side of her and provide such role as well the stress level of the employee (Marry, here) is resolved.
Armstrong, M. (2012). Armstrong’s Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice (12 Ed ed.). Kogan Page.
van Dixhoorn, J. (1997). Stress at the Workplace: Health and Productivity—ISMA-5. International Journal of Stress Management , 4(4), p.233.
Workplace stress is the response people may have when presented with work demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to work (American Psychological Association, n.d.). In other words, it is the harmful and emotional response that occurs when there is a poor match between the job demands and the capabilities, resources or needs of the organization. While it is normal to have some level of stress, excessive stress can interfere with productivity and performance, impact physical and emotional health, and affect your relationships and personal life (Segol, Smith, Robinson, & Segal, 2018).
The workplace stress may result from fear of being laid off, more overtime due to staff cutbacks, pressure to perform to meet rising expectations but with no increase in job satisfaction, pressure to work at optimum levels-all the time and lack of control over how to do the work assigned (Segol, Smith, Robinson, & Segal, 2018). In addition to these, low salaries, excessive workloads, few opportunities for growth or advancement, work that is not engaging or challenging, lack of social support, not having enough control over job-related decisions and conflicting demands or unclear performance expectations are also the sources of workplace stress. A sense of powerlessness, unclear job description, traumatic events on the workplace and unfavorable work setting also adds to the workplace stress (American Psychological Association, n.d.). According to The American Institute of Stress, 20% of the workplace stress is caused by juggling work and personal lives, 6% is caused by lack of job security, 28% is resulted by peole issues and 46% is caused by workload.
Most of the times, workplace stress arises because we cannot control everything in our work environment. For example, the unwanted noise in the workplace, lack of privacy, robbery in the organization etc. are some of the factors that cause stress in the workplace over which we have no control.
American Psychological Association (APA) has suggested the following steps in managing stress:
- Track the stressors: The first and foremost step to manage stress is to find out the root cause of the stress.
- Develop healthy responses: Once the stressors are tracked, we need to look out for the healthy choices to address those factors.
- Establish boundaries: Setting clear boundaries between work and personal life also helps in managing stress.
- Take time to recharge: At times, we need to totally distract ourselves from work and work-related activities to relax and unwind.
- Learn how to relax: The meditation and mindfullness activities are becoming the popular choices of stress mangement these days.
- Talk to the supervisor: Healthy and open conversation with the supervisors help in finding out the ways for stress management at workplace.
- Get some support: The help from the trusted friends and family members is also one of the ways to manage stress.
The organization can manage stress by addressing the factors that cause stress that includes:
- Designing job by clarifying the roles, responsibilities and power of each position precisely and clearly to avoid confusion and conflict.
- Setting reasonable and attainable targets and performance standards that match with the capabilities of the employees.
- Ensuring that the people are placed in the job they are best suited for and the job allows them to utilize their knowledge, ability and skills in full fledge.
- Providing opportunities for growth and improvement through career development and management training.
- Encouraging direct talk with the concerned authority regarding the problems and complications in the workplace (Armstrong, 2008).
American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Stress in the Workplace . Retrieved from Stress in the Workplace: www.apa.org/helpcenter/workplace-stress.aspx
Armstrong, M. (2008). Armstrong’s Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice. London: Kogan Page.
Segol, J., Smith, M., Robinson, L., & Segal, R. (2018, February). Stress in the Workplace . Retrieved from Managing Job and Workplace Stress: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/stress-in-the-workplace.htm
The American Institute of Stress. (n.d.). Transforming Stress Through Awareness, Education and Collaboration . Retrieved from https://www.stress.org/workplace-stress/
Stress is the way your body respond to emotional, social, physical and economic factors. As defined by the Safety (2018), “Workplace stress is the harmful physical and emotional responses that can happen when there is a conflict between job demands on the employee and the amount of control an employee has over meeting these demands.”
Workplace stress can both be negative and positive. Positive stress might take you towards your goals and rise to challenge such as meeting the deadlines, reaching the targets, getting into new venture and so on.While negative stress leads to exhaustion, dissatisfaction from work, frustration, work fatigue, panic attacks due to work overload which may lead to increase in blood pressure, panic attacks, depression, errors in judgement, decrease in efficiency in work and resigning of employees.
Organization must develop healthy responses and keep proper communication channel with their constituents to manage stress in the workplace. Besides that, there are various ways of managing stress in the organization:
Job design includes organizing and clarifying tasks which results in reducing conflict and ensure some level of control and autonomy at work. By improving the workplace relationships and controlling/supervision, it will be easy for the managers to delegate the responsibilities. For example, The work of a clerk to the higher level officers work has been clarified in an organization which helps in reduce the work load on one person.
Targets and performance standards
By setting reachable targets, employee feels less burden and pressure in achieving the goals. This helps in maintain the performance standards and levels inside the firm. For example, Company A wants to increase the sales targets in the year 2018. To meet the sales, the company should drive their performance towards increasing sales. For that they need lower their expense and do more promotion and marketing of their company.
Job placement plays a vital role in managing the stress inside the organization. For example, Ram is qualified for the post of Managing Director but he assigned to do the work of middle level. While Shyam is a fresher and has cleared his bachelor but still appointed as managing Director. This will result in imbalance in the work schedule of the employees and leads to stress to the employee. Hence, it is very necessary appoint the right person at the right place.
Any employee joins the organization with the hope of building a long term career.Organization must provide opportunities for growth by promoting the staff according to their work contributions and their abilities.
Performance management processes
It allows a dialogue to take place between managers and individuals about the latter’s work problems and ambitions (Armstrong, 2012). It is shared understanding between the employee and employee regarding the contributions of an individual to an organizations which leads in reducing the frustration between them.
Counselling sessions helps to remove the work pressure and understand the desired goals want to be achieved by an organization. It is a kind of Psychology therapy for employees paid by an employer. For example, Job security that includes Compensation, allowance, overtime, insurance policy.
Bullying is an illegal activity. The anti bullying campaigns saves employees from vulnerable situations and motivate them to work more systematically.
Armstrong, M. (2012). Armstrongs’ Leadership Challenge. London : Kogan Page.
Gill, A. (2016). 5 simple Ways to Effectively Manage Workplace Sress. Saxons Blog.
Safety, C. C. (2018, April 9). Workplace Stress. Retrieved from Can "workplace stress" be defined?: http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/psychosocial/stress.html