Work Stress

.. uce and cope with stress is to incorporate into the company policies a positive and specific intent on reducing undue stress. This would indicate that top management is committed to such a stress reduction program. Furthermore, the amendment to the policies should also include a recognition that this initiative will benefit the achievement of other organizational goals by enhancing the productivity of employees through lowered stress levels . After the inclusion of the broad mission goal of reducing employee stress, management should draft out plans which specifically lays out the provisions to accomplish that goal.

As earlier mentioned, there are many approaches to stress reduction, thus the provisions should detail only the methods specific to the organization. For example, they could specify that employees undergo periodic physical and psychological examinations and personnel surveys to ascertain current stress levels. Another alternative would be to provide personal counseling to employees to identify undue stress levels and then to advise any corrective measures for the individual. In any case, the most important beginning step is a total reexamination and revision of company policies, plans, and procedures to enhance employees’ own methods of coping with stress, and simultaneously, promote an organizational climate which actively assists employees to minimize their stress. 3.2 Fundamental Techniques to Employee Stress Reduction One method management can employ to alleviate employee stress is to make them fitter to deal with the everyday pressures of work . There are three basic management techniques that would accomplish this goal. Managers should be clear about their expectations of employees and clearly convey these expectations to each person. Secondly, management should devise a performance-evaluation-feedback system such that each employee would be aware of his / her performance level based on the feedback received. Lastly, employees should be fully capable of performing their job tasks.

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Stress arises when employees do not possess the necessary skills to carry on with the work assigned to them. Therefore, job training programs are essential to reducing anxiety and stress associated when employees feel that they do not possess sufficient skills or knowledge to perform the job that they were hired for. 3.2.1 Communicating Management’s Expectations In an organization, it would appear that all employees have a clear understanding of their roles they were hired for and the duties expected of them. This assertion is often valid for employees working at the front line, such as workers on an assembly line. Strict procedural guidelines dictates the tasks and procedures each worker would assume. However, at higher levels in the organizational hierarchy, an employee’s duties and responsibilities may not be as apparent.

A middle manager or team leader’s role could entail many different responsibilities and duties such as managing, coordinating, leading, planning, etc. Despite a detailed job description when the individual was hired, there often exists a cloud of ambiguity as to what the position exactly encompasses given the wide-ranging scope of the position . Work stress arises as a result of this because employees would be distressed over uncertainty of the sufficiency of their tasks in relevance to their position and role. Furthermore, employees may not be clear as to the amount of work expected of him or her. When employees do not know how much effort they should commit to their jobs in order to satisfy their superior’s expectations, a certain level of employee work stress would arise in that the individual would be constantly worried about the adequacy of his / her level of effort. In essence, employees need to know exactly the tasks expected of them and the level of effort to put into those tasks.

The issue here is essentially a communications problem between management and employees. Management should communicate its expectations to employees whether as a group or individually. Since increased communications is the primary solution in this case, management should also promote a working environment where employees are encouraged to voice their concerns, questions, etc. to their respective superiors. Managers, themselves, should adapt a managing style that is sensitive and responsive to employee stress.

Communication of management expectations can be achieved by analyzing each role in the organization to clarify priorities and resolve conflict between roles. This approach would first, clarify any ambiguity an employee may have about his / her position. Secondly, it effectively eliminates the stress from not knowing what or how much to do. Informing employees of their role expectations is only the beginning to reducing stress levels . Employee also require feedback from their performance measures. 3.2.2 Providing Feedback to Employees Once role expectations are known, employees require feedback on their performance to determine whether those expectations are met. In the absence of feedback, employees would be worrying if their current levels of effort are satisfying the expectations of them.

A state of ambiguity would arise again, resulting in increased stress levels. A systematic approach in providing periodical performance feedback to all employees in the organization is required. One common approach adopted by many companies are staff and staff-development schemes. They entail a periodical one-on-one interview between managers and each of his / her subordinates. During the interview, the manager would inform the employee of his / her performance relative to previously set standards (ie. expectations).

The employee would be encouraged to provide his / her concerns regarding the performance evaluation. Any problems and / or requests for assistance would be communicated to the manager at this point. To conclude the interview, the employee would set attainable future goals to improve or maintain the current performance level. Royal Bank is a strong advocate of staff-development schemes. Employees meet with their managers once every four months to discuss the employees’ performance to-date.

The interview process is characterized by the supportive and encouraging roles every manager adopts towards their subordinates. Unlike many other appraisal interviews, managers do not only focus and highlight employee weaknesses. When certain deficiencies in performance are discussed, managers recognize that negative feedback is uncomfortable to both parties and can also be counter-productive. Thus, they usually identify areas for improvement to employees in a very supportive approach. The objective is to rectify the deficiency by motivating the employee to change, rather than imposing additional stress on him / her by merely pointing the weakness(s) out. 3.1.3 Job Training Programs Job training programs provide employees with a broader knowledge and skills enabling them to better handle the expectations from their roles.

Employee stress is often caused by the lack of skills or knowledge to meet designated objectives and goals. These programs usually take on two forms – knowledge-based development and skills-based development. Knowledge-based development programs usually involve a conference or seminar where the aim is to broaden the attendees’ knowledge of a certain topic such as infomatics seminar briefing employees on the latest networking technologies. The knowledge gained from such programs may or may not be utilized in the everyday job routines of employees. Alternatively, skill-based development programs focus on training employees to become more proficient in the use of certain behaviours such as assertiveness training. While job training programs can reduce work stress, there are essentially three conditions to its success . First, the job training must be required by the employee.

No benefit would be derived if an employee is trained for something that is not relevant to the work he / she performs everyday. Secondly, management must discourage any perception by employees that training programs are a form of reward or punishment, or else the entire purpose of the training initiative would be lost. Finally, preparation is required to benefit fully from the program. 4.0 Conclusion Work stress places a very high toll on both employees and employers. An employee subjected to high levels of stress could experience both physical and mental side-effects. Physical side effects such as hypertension, coronary disease, infections, ulcers could greatly decrease the lifespan of the person. The psychological effects such as repressed emotions, anger, and isolation have a direct negative impact on organizational productivity. Thus, organizations have a great responsibility in reducing the stress of their employees, and in general be concerned about their well-being. There are numerous methods to counter the stress problem.

The report has cited only the basics which are applicable to most organizations. The first step for management is to set out the intention to reduce employee stress in as an organizational goal. Provisions detailing the organization’s planned approach should be drafted. Informing employees of management’s expectations is one method to reduce a large portion of the anxiety employees may have about their jobs. Secondly, management must provide subordinates feedback on their performance. Management should also provide job training for all employees to enable them to better perform their jobs and reduce the stress associated with the feeling of inadequacy to perform one’s duties. Psychology.