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Stress in the Work-Place

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Stress in the Work-Place Abstract Over the years, stress at work has been a key topical issue to the world over. Robert C. Dailey, in his book Understanding People In Organisations, defines stress as "any demand made on the body that requires psychological or physical adjustment." The relationship between stressful events or situations, coping resources and the stress response is a complex one, in that not all people will respond to events in the same way. Reputed bodies such as the Confederation of British Industries (CBI), the Trades Union Congress (TUC), and the Department of Health have voiced their concerns on this anomaly. 1 Introduction A broader definition, stress is an individual's physiological response to excessive pressure1. This may come about (in the workplace) as a result of high demands, competition, the rate of technological and organisational change, and more. Although stress is not a disease, but if it is not checked it can bring significant negative effects to the person and the organisation. We need stress and fear to motivate us to do better - but not all stress is desirable. It depends on the type of stress, of which there are three main ones; Good stress, bad stress and repulsive stress. However it is the first two categories that we will concern ourselves in. The former results where although a task is demanding; it is capable of being completed. In other words, performance is improved when the employee is under pressure. However too much pressure can be bad it can create prolonged stress and also chronic stress which can lead to the destructive cycle of poor performance, declining confidence, inefficiency and decreasing productivity. Stress can also damage physical health, social relationships and the way we function at work and at home. Some schools of thought disagree with the view that working conditions causes stress at work. Studies conducted by CBI in 1998, brings to light the seriousness of the impact of stress in the workplace. ...read more.


Organisation orientated interventions have proved more well-liked within organisations than primary level interventions or dealing with the sources of the job stress for many reasons, namely for the reason that of the cost benefits and the analysis of such programmes has produced some notable results also the professional 'interventionists' the counsellors, physicians and clinicians liable for health care feel more comfortable with changing individuals than changing organisations5 also it is well thought-out to be easier and less disruptive to business to change the individuals6 than to embark on an extensive and potentially expensive organisational development programme, the outcome of which be uncertain7 3 Stress Management Training (SMT) and its effectiveness Employee assistance programmes deal explicitly with employees with elevated levels of psychological distress such as extreme anxiety and depression. They are treatment focused and serve a curative function8. Stress-management training programmes on the other hand are essentially preventive in orientation because they are directed at employees who do not have specific stress related problems. The outcome of organisational stress coping and management strategies could lead to the: 1. Effective instrumental coping may eliminate the source of stress by directly altering the perceptions involved and thus, reduce the need to mobilise action and the physiological adaptive response that has been associated with disease (see Selye, 1956) (Edwards, 1988; Harrison, 1976; Lazarus, 1976). Unfortunately, the assessments of such dynamics are difficult to assess (Lazarus, 1976). 2. The strain outcome itself may serve as a coping strategy in that for example, illness may lead to seeking medical treatment that is maintained because of secondary gains (Whitehead, Fedoravicius, Blackwell & Wooley, 1979). In conclusion, there appears to be no single recipe or point of intervention to be recommended for the management of stress in all persons, in all organisations, and in all circumstances (Newman & Beehr, 1979 p.39). Therefore, it seems that neither organisational nor individual action alone will yield optimum preventive stress management in an organisation. ...read more.


If this strategic approach used in Motorola and the above recommendations at combating stress is not enough then what is? Nevertheless there is scope for improvement. Organisations must not rest until a lasting solution to this menace in the workplace is eventually discovered. Although this may come at a cost to the organisation in question, in the long run the benefits will far outweigh the cost of this investment. Nearly one-half of large companies in the United States provide some type of stress management training and Employee Assistance Plans (EAPs) for their workforces. Workers learn about the nature and sources of stress, the effects of stress on health, and personal skills to reduce stress - for example, time management or relaxation exercises. EAPs provide individual counseling for employees with both work and personal problems. Stress management training may rapidly reduce stress symptoms such as anxiety and sleep disturbances. It is inexpensive and easy to implement. However, these programs have two major disadvantages: The beneficial effects on stress symptoms are often short-lived. They often ignore important root causes of stress because they focus on the worker and not the environment. Organisational Change Some companies try to reduce job stress by bringing in a consultant to recommend ways they might improve working conditions. This approach is the most direct way to reduce stress at work. It involves the identification of stressful aspects of work (e.g., excessive workload, conflicting expectations) and the design of strategies to reduce or eliminate the identified stressors. Thus, these programs deal directly with the root causes of stress at work. However, managers are sometimes uncomfortable with this approach because it can involve changes in work routines, production schedules, or organisational structure. As a general rule, actions to reduce job stress should give top priority to organisational change to improve working conditions. But even the most conscientious efforts to improve working conditions are unlikely to eliminate stress completely for all workers. For this reason, a combination of organisational change and stress management is often the most useful approach for preventing stress at work. ...read more.

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