Workers who are stressed are also more likely to be unhealthy, poorly motivated, less productive, and less safe at work. The organizations are less likely to be successive in competitive in modern market. Stress can be brought about by pressures at home and at work. Employers can not usually protect workers from stress arising outside of work, but they can protect them from stress that arises through work. Stress at work can be a real problem to the organization as well as for its workers. Good management and good work organization are the best forms of stress prevention. If employees are already stressed, their managers should be aware of it and know how to help.
What is work stress?
Work-related 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 cope. There is often confusion between pressure or challenge and stress and some times it is used to excuse bad management practice
Work related stress Hazards?
1. Job content- Monotones, lack of variety, unpleasant tasks etc..
2. Work load and work place- time pressures
3. Working hours- inflexible and unsocial hours
4. Participation and control- lacking in decision making and control
5. Career development, status and play
6. Role in organization-unclear role, conflicting role
7. Interpersonal relationship
8. Organizational culture
9. Home-work interface
Our mind has different stages while encountering a event. The two stages of stress are beta stage and alpha stage.
The beta stage is the situation where the person is in the waking stage. The alpha stage is the first step to unconscious. Usually the decisions we make in our life is a combination of conscious and sub conscious state. Now lets go in detail about how we these states work together.
The alpha state is the stage where we do our work. This is the stage where we will be relaxed. We will be warm and comfortable. In this stage we will be waiting to take up the work with a fresh mind. For example, waiting in the car for some one on a sunny day, with a mild breeze blowing over you, is a perfect state of alpha stage. The work done in the alpha stage is mainly controlled by the sub conscious state. Thus what ever we do in this state, it will be correct and there is very less probability of making mistakes during this state. The alpha stage occurs only twice per day. It is when we wake up in the morning and when we are about to sleep during the night. Our conscious mind has the reasoning capability. Our conscious mind is like a tape memory. We cannot delete it and copy another data, instead we can create another copy of data on it. During the decision making stages, the sub conscious state is the one which take up the decisions. No mater what the conscious state does, it need to co operate with the sub conscious state in order to take up a decision. Thus this is the reason why we call the sub conscious mind as our energy source. For example, suppose we scold a small child and degrade him for some mischief done by him, the words of degradation will always exists in the child mind. Thus it will be stored in the sub conscious mind which will remain there for ever. Thus the child will be always a failure because conscious mind will not be able to over take the sub conscious mind in him. Thus we need to be careful while speaking to a child. We also need to know the fact that whenever a conscious mind takes up a decision, it has to be asked with sub conscious. If the sub conscious mind has already decide upon a particular decision and if the conscious mind changes the decision, then it is not possible for the sub conscious mind to again change.
Stress and Stress-Related Disorders:
Although information on this topic is still sketchy, reliable evidence has begun to emerge on both the extent of job stress and stress-related disability in many organizations. Indicators of occupational safety and health risks associated with the organization of work and workplace stress come from following sources:
- Data on the prevalence of stress and stress-related disorders in the workplace, and how the employees experiences job stress and how it have changed in recent years.
- Data on the scope of workplace exposures to workplace conditions that are known risk factors for stress and stress-related disorders, and on how these exposures have changed.
- When affected by work stress and work related disorders workers become increasingly distressed and irritable, unable to relax, difficult in logical thinking and decision making feel tired, depressed, experiences physical problems, musculo-skeletal disorders.
According to American Psychological Association, 54%of Americans are concerned about the level of stress in their everyday lives. Stress makes cancer cells stronger and less likely to die. Research indicates that a protein called BAD that kills cancer cells, does not work in the presence of epinephrine which is produced by the adrenal glands during stressful situations and depression.
Stress can be linked to the external factors such as Economic factors, occupational risks, the environmental and emerging issues. Stress can also be linked to the external factors which govern our own irresponsible behaviors negative thoughts that surround us, or unrealistic desires and expectations. Organizational practices of concern in the work organization and stress field are the products of macroeconomic, technological, demographic, and other forces at the national and international level. These developments have had significant impacts on business practices relevant to the organization of work, including the organization of firms, the organization of production, the nature of employment contracts, and other human resource policies such as work-life programs and fringe benefits. In many countries, these trends have occurred against the backdrop of an aging and increasingly diverse workforce.
These causal pathways between work organization and worker safety and health are illustrated in the figure below. This figure portrays a somewhat broader causal model, showing that new organizational practices of concern are the products of various background forces, including the growing global economy, changing worker demographics and the labor supply, and technological innovation.
Occupational Safety and Health Risks
Although information is limited, indicators of occupational safety and health risks associated with the organization of work and workplace stress come from two sources:
Data on the prevalence of stress and stress-related disorders in the workplace, and on how experiences of job stress have changed in recent years coincident with changing organizational practices, and
Data on the scope of workplace exposures to workplace conditions that are known risk factors for stress and stress-related disorders, and on how these exposures have changed.
The aspects of work organization affect general well-being, physical health, and stress-related outcomes. There is a number of important emerging scientific and health issues related to work organization practices are:
- Work-Life / Flexibility:Women are entering the workforce at increasing rates, and couples are working longer hours. Due to these circumstances and recent trends in family planning, workers are increasingly finding themselves “sandwiched” between work and domestic responsibilities. The links between work-life conflict and employees’ well-being and functioning (both at work and home) have become a growing concern for both employers and workers. It is necessary to examine the risks posed by work-life conflict and especially the design and benefits of work-life programs to restore work-life balance.
- Disaster Mental Health/Traumatic Stress:9/11 and recent hurricanes have served to elevate disaster mental health as an area of concern in occupational safety and health, with special attention to stress experienced by emergency responders. Effort is needed along several lines to reduce stress risks among disaster workers, including(1) development of psychosocial instruments to reliably assess psychological stress in post-disaster situations,(2) how disaster response work can be better organized and managed to reduce stress risks, and(3) ways to improve the resilience of disaster workers and to improve mental health interventions.
Depression / Psychological Illness.
The mental health of workers is an area of increasing concern to organizations. For example, depressive disorders affect approximately 10% of adults in the U.S. each year and they are among the most costly health problems for organizations. Evidence linking work organization with depression and other mental health problems, and with increased productivity losses, is beginning to accumulate. There is a pressing need to better understand organizational practices and factors that contribute to poor mental health, to develop interventions that effectively target these risk factors, and to translate and disseminate information on risk factors and interventions for application in organizations. Workplace Violence.
Studies indicate that as many as one-third of workers report they experienced some sort of psychological aggression, emotional harassment, or abuse while on the job .Workplace psychological aggression can be costly in terms of individual outcomes, such as increased psychological stress, reduced satisfaction, and poorer physical health, and in terms of organizational outcomes such as turnover, counterproductive work behaviors, and decreased productivity.
A critical challenge in public health during the next decade is how to ensure the safety and health of an aging. Workforce. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that between 2000 and 2015, the number of workers 55 years and older will increase by 72 percent ? from 18.2 million to 31.2 million. This compares to a rate of only seven percent for workers between the ages of 16 to 54. Despite this unprecedented increase in the number of older workers, we have only limited knowledge of the safety and health risks they will encounter. Company need to better understand the types of jobs and working conditions older workers experience identify risk factors that may disproportionately affect these workers, and develop best practices and organizational-level interventions designed to improve the safety and health of older workers.
Minority Worker Health.
Evidence suggests that racial and ethnic minorities, who collectively comprise at least 25% of the workforce, are overexposed to a variety of health- and safety-compromising conditions due to their overrepresentation in low status occupations and due to issues related specifically to race and ethnicity. Despite these exposures, few research efforts have been directed toward better understanding the occupational safety and health of minorities
Coping with stress:
Stress can yield benefits but employees don’t tend to look that way. For them it’s just an escape route. What Management sees as an “opportunity to excel”, employees sees them as “Threat of excessive pressure”. Employees today do not want to put extra efforts, they just want to have 9-5 p.m.job, with very little to contribute, and the expectations are so high. There is a tendency for desire, even though they do not deserve, while the case should be first deserve, and then desire.
There are two approaches:
Individual approach i.e., employee himself takes the responsibility for reducing his or her stress level, by implementing time management, increasing physical exercise, adopting relaxation techniques, and expanding his social network. Stress is essentially an outcome of mismanagement of time. Whenever we encounter a stressful event, our bodies undergo a series of hormonal and biochemical changes that put us in alarm mode. To reduce stress Meditation, yoga, physical exercise helps to create dynamic peacefulness within you. Apart from these the following can also be done by employees to reduce the stress at work life.
a) Job Analysis:
To do a good job, one need to fully understand what is expected of him/her. While this may seem obvious, in the hurly-burly of a new, fast-moving, high-pressure role, it is oftentimes something that is overlooked. By understanding the priorities in your job, and what constitutes success within it, you can focus on these activities and minimize work on other tasks as much as possible. This helps you get the greatest return from the work you do, and keep your workload under control. Job Analysis is a useful technique for getting a firm grip on what really is important in your job so that you are able to perform well. It helps you to cut through clutter and distraction to get to the heart of what you need to do. And it shows you the tasks you should try to drop.
b) Time Management:
Good time management is essential if you are to handle a heavy workload without excessive stress. By using time management skills effectively, you can reduce work stress by being more in control of your time, and by being more productive. This ensures that you have time to relax outside work.
- Assess the value of your time, understand how effectively you are using it, and improve your time use habits;
- Focus on your priorities so that you focus on the most important jobs to do, delegate tasks where possible, and drop low value jobs;
- Manage and avoid distractions; and
- Create more time.
c) Valuing Your Time:
A first step in good time management is to understand the value of your time.If you are employed by someone else, you need to understand how much your employer is paying for your time, and how much profit he expects to make from you. If you are working for yourself, you should have an idea of how much income you want to bring in after tax. By working these figures back to an hourly rate, this gives you an idea of the value of your time. By knowing the value of your time, you should be able to tell what tasks are worthwhile to perform, and which tasks give a poor return. This helps you cut away the low value jobs, or argue for help with them.
Activity logs are useful tools for doing things. They help you understand how you use your time, so that you can identify and eliminate time-wasting and unproductive habits. This gives you more time to do your work, increases your efficiency, and makes it more likely that you will be able to leave work on time and have good quality time to yourself to relax. The first time you use an activity log, you may be shocked to see the amount of time that you waste! Memory is a very poor guide when it comes to this: It is too easy to forget time spent reading junk mail, browsing interesting but unhelpful web pages, talking to colleagues, making coffee, waiting for meetings, traveling, etc. By keeping an Activity Log for a couple of weeks, you can identify the unproductive time in your daily routine. By cutting this out, or by changing your habits, you can substantially increase your productivity.
To Do List:
Keeping a To Do List is one of the most fundamental but important working skills that people can have. To Do Lists help people to deliver work reliably, without letting tasks “slip through the cracks.” This obviously helps in reducing the stress of having failed to do something important. it is essential when you need to carry out a number of different tasks, or where you have made a number of commitments. If you find that you are often caught out because you have forgotten to do something, then you need to keep a To Do List.While To Do Lists are very simple, they are also powerful, both as a method of organizing yourself, and as a way of reducing stress.This may leave you feeling out of control, and overburdened with work. Keeping a To Do List guides you in your approach to work, puts the work into context, and gives you a starting point for negotiating deadlines.
2. Organizational approach:
Stress activities that cause stress like task of the employees and the role demands and organizational structures are controlled by the management which can be modified or changed. The management needs to focus on personnel selection, job placement, training and development, job redesign, improved employee improvement, establishing corporate wellness programs etc. Goals should be set realistically which serves as a means of motivation to the employees who when achieves them, are most stress free. Finally the wellness program which focus on employees total physical and mental conditions like, providing workshops for developing the regular exercise program shall contribute to the removal of stress in organizations.
Work stress is a real challenge for workers and their employing organizations. Individuals vary greatly in their capacity to endure stressful situations, and there is, undoubtedly, self-selection in the kinds of jobs and stressors that individuals choose. Because sources of stress may vary from worker to worker, providing a solution for one worker may create stress for another worker. Stress can be both positive and negative which has an impact on the employee s performance at work. If taken positively, the results are positive and if taken negatively it may yield disastrous results. For most of the people