Workplace stress & the effects …
Everyone knows what stress is and we’ve all experienced it at some stage in our lives. Whether it’s at work, at home, due to a change in lifestyle, job hunting or juggling studies & work, it’s a natural part of life. The issue is though, when stress is ongoing, it can become a major problem.
So, what’s work related stress and what are the major issues associated with it??
According to Wikipedia, Workplace stress ‘often stems from unexpected responsibilities and pressures that do not align with a person’s knowledge, skills, or expectations, inhibiting one’s ability to cope. Occupational stress can increase when workers do not feel supported by supervisors or colleagues or feel as if they have little control over work processes’.
Stress in the workplace can be due to many factors; long work hours, high workload, bullying, harassment, restructures, working environment etc. This stress not only effects the individual but the work environment as a whole.
Individuals who are experiencing stress in the workplace can experience a wide range of negative effects ranging from psychological issues such as depression/anxiety, physical conditions such as headaches/fatigue/heart disease, issues with concentration & memory loss, they may experience a breakdown in a personal relationship and they can turn to substance abuse.
An organisation can also experience a number of negative effects on both the company and other staff members. An increase in absenteeism, an increase in turnover of staff, drop in efficiency & performance and behavioural issues such as disrespect for colleagues and customers are only a few outcomes of stress in the workplace.
So how can we all work together to alleviate stress in the workplace??
Encouraging open communication is the first step in reducing workplace stress. This applies to Managers communicating with their staff, HR putting policies in place around open communication and colleagues communicating with each other.
Companies also need to take responsibility for the effects their goals and targets can have on a workplace. Implementing a realistic vision and goals/targets show your staff you’re not setting them up to fail.
HR Departments need to ensure they have in place strategies around work place stress too. I know many global players that fall short when it comes to stress in the workplace. Some handle it very well and have processes in place to ensure they ‘nip it in the bud’ before stress becomes an issue but other HR Departments really don’t do a good job at all in this area. If you know you have teams where high stress levels can be common (due to long hours, high targets etc) then HR should be checking in with these staff on a regular basis and not just passing them the phone number for the Employee Assistant Program when it all becomes too much for them. Show them that you care, let them know you’re always willing to talk and that you’re willing to do what is necessary to fix the issue at hand.
If we all work together to recognise when stress is occurring, encourage open communication and foster an environment which is open to putting steps in place to alleviate stress, we can ensure the future is much more positive for all staff and the company as a whole.