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Analyse the impact of Human Resource Management on the levels of stress in the working population

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Introduction

Analyse the impact of Human Resource Management on the levels of stress in the working population. Stress nowadays has become a part of everyday life for a percentage of the working population. Arnold et al. (1997) as cited in Maund [2001 p.298] define stress as: 'any force that pushes a psychological or physical factor beyond its range of stability, producing a strain within the individual'. According to Hans Selye (1956 and 1974) as cited in Foot and Hook [2005 p.340] there are two types of stress, 'eustress' and 'distress'. 'Eustress' is known to have a positive effect as Hans Selye states that 'Sometimes people are stimulated by having to deal with a number of issues; this can be exiting and motivating'. Graham [1998 p.129] also states that stress 'has both positive and negative aspects as some employees thrive on pressure'. The common form of stress we refer to is known as 'distress'. These individuals who react negatively to a threatening situation will 'experience a release of hormones which drains blood from the skin and the digestive system' Graham [1989 p.78], which in turn will result in what we know as stress. Bratton & Gold [2000 p.142] talks about Job design as being one possible cause of stress. If HRM does not give an employee variation within his/her role, then they won't 'activate employee's upper level needs' which will cause stress. ...read more.

Middle

An employee who experiences stress due to over quantitative work is directly affected by poor management style and structure as it's the management who over-sees the employees' workload. Overwork can result in an employee working longer hours and will be 'frequently connected with poor diet, lack of exercise and inadequate relaxation' Graham and Bennett [1998 p.130]. 'Harassment (sexual and racial) at work is another source of stress' Bratton & Gold [2000 p.142]. Graham & Bennett [1998 p.133] states how 'sexual harassment in practise is extremely difficult to prove.' They also state that 'it can be difficult to distinguish between sexual harassment and normal male/female flirting behaviour.' Bratton & Gold defends this statement by saying that it's 'difficult for an HR manager to convince employees and other managers to take this kind of sexual harassment seriously.' Bratton & Gold go on to talk about another form of sexual harassment that is called quid pro quo harassment, 'which is essentially a kind of sex-for-promotion blackmail [p.142].' Graham & Bennett state that this sort of sexual harassment 'is especially serious when someone's conditions of employment or benefits (promotions, pay rises, etc).' It's important for a Human Resource department within an organisation to have clear-cut directives on harassment within the workplace, as this would create a foundation if a situation would occur. The effects of people experiencing stress will ultimately affect the performance of the organisation as Maund [2001 p.299] states that 'Individuals exhibiting high stress within the workplace will affect the organisation and the achievement of organisational goals'. ...read more.

Conclusion

Following from the US study on alcohol abuse earlier, Bratton & Gold see Maund's list on the organisational effect as a direct and indirect cost to the company. They also state that bad decisions and loss of managers' time is affecting the organisation as a result of alcohol abuse by its staff. To a Human Resource department, an employee experiencing stress is always a sign that they aren't doing their job properly. Although individuals have different stress levels it is the Human Resource Departments duty to analyse and change an employees working duties to his/hers standards, in order to get the best out of that employee. Bratton & Gold [2003 p.4] state that due to global competition, the internationalization of technology and the productivity of labour, 'It requires managers to change the way in which they manage the employment relationship in order to allow for the most effective utilization of human resources (HR).' Although none of the authors talk about Human Resource Management as having direct effects on the working population in terms of stress, all of the issues the authors talk about the causes of stress are caused by poor Human Resource Management. To conclude, I've chosen a quote from Bratton & Gold [2003 p.5] that tells me that Human Resource Management strategies should adapt with the times to deal with the levels of stress in the working population. People have higher needs nowadays and expect more from their work. It states that 'Fashions come and go, and the same might be said about approaches to people management. ...read more.

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