Posted: November 27th, 2013
Stress and the Workplace
Stress and the Workplace
Work-related stress has been a cause of many health problems for quite a long time. In some rare cases, these very problems may lead to death. Work related stress is a term used to define the situation that one has when he/she has more to handle than they can cope with because of their work or work environment. Some causes of work related stress are more dominant than others. Nevertheless, it is important to pay attention to every cause as it may affect different people in different ways. In most cases, work-related stress mostly affects the employee. However, the whole business is also affected more often than not. This is due to poor employee productivity, high employee turnover, among others. The interviews conducted revealed that most of the work related problems are avoidable although there is a basic amount of stress that is inevitable.
Police Officer and Teacher
An interview conducted of two people in different professions gives somewhat similar results in some areas and different results in others. For example, a police officer is likely to encounter more stress caused by different situations/factors as compared to a teacher in classroom setting even though both are directly dealing with the public. One of the problems that is likely to cause stress as revealed by one of the officers is the fact that ones life is almost always in danger. According to the officer, one always has a lingering feeling at the back of his/her mind that they may not go home at the end of a work shift. Indeed, the job is very risky. The officer deals with many different people and most of them are on the wrong side of the law. These people possess dangerous weapons that may end up hurting or even killing the officer. In addition, these people, if jailed, are full of anger and thoughts of revenge, especially toward the police officers. In other words, a police officer is likely to make more enemies than friends within the course of his work.
Other factors found in the workplace may also be a source of stress to these officers. There are officers who may feel stress by bearing the threat of having a dishonoured discharge, especially if they have already been given a warning. Dishonoured discharges are dreaded by officers because they are a very shameful way of leaving the service. Those of a higher rank in the same profession can cause the employees at the lower levels/ranks experience stress in one way or another. As known, the issuing of orders from a higher ranked officer should not be questioned. Some orders may not be easy to carry out. This is a source of stress for many. Some disciplinary actions taken against the officer may be unfair especially if the accused officer does not have enough evidence to justify his/her side of the story. Other factors that are common in this profession just like in the other profession are colleague related issues, and the working environment (dealing with firearms, other dangerous weapons and the people being dealt with).
On the other hand, a teacher has his/her share of factors that may cause stress, which are different from that of an officer. Poor performance from the students is one of the causes of stress in teachers. Pressure from the principal or heads of department among other people in the higher ranks may be a cause of stress for many. The pressure from parents may also be a source of stress. Parents are very protective and concerned about their children. Some parents may tend to overdo this, thereby causing stress to the teachers through their demanding nature.
Other Universal Causes of Stress
There are factors found in workplaces of all professions that can be a cause of stress for many people. According to Davoren and McCauley, relationships with colleagues are a frequent cause of stress in the workplace (2010). These relationships may be specialized relationships or general relationships. In the case of specialized relationship, some companies/businesses discourage specialized relationships in the workplace. Specialized relationships include having sexual relationships with colleagues, managers or subordinates. For example, a woman having a sexual relationship with her supervisor is likely to obtain special favours from him. On the other hand, if the two argue or fall apart, one is gong to give the other a hard time working in order to get back at him/her or in order to get their attention. In some cases, it may lead to loss employment for one or both of them.
Other ways that colleagues may cause stress to each other is through their acts, knowingly or unknowingly. Competition at the workplace because of the rewards to be received may be a source of stress if not well handled. There are colleagues who would do anything, even if it means hurting other employees, in order to record particular achievements. These include making false accusations, intimidating other employees, amongst others. Colleagues may make the working place an unbearable place and hence cause stress to the affected (Davoren & McCauley, 2010). Other employees may also go ahead and destroy the efforts of their colleagues so that the targeted cannot advance before them.
Managers, supervisors and other personnel charge may also be a source of stress to many employees. Managers who are too demanding may make the workplace an unbearable place (Skakon et al., 2010). It is good to push the employees into achieving their targets. However, it is also advisable to recognize the limit. For instance, some employers sexually harass their subordinates or solicit for sexual favours in order to accomplish a task that there are dutifully supposed to accomplish. For example, some will insist on having sexual relations with the employee in order to award a promotion or a salary increment. Skakon et al believe that these behaviours greatly affect the well-being of the employee both at work and outside work (2010).
Lack of an organization’s intervention in helping an employee manage work and home affairs may also cause stress to an employee (Brough & O’Driscoll, 2010). Brough and O’Driscoll continue to argue that the ability to manage work and non-work responsibilities is of great importance to an employee’s performance and health (2010). There are different measures that can be put in place in order to help an employee manage work and home affairs. Some employees are not very good at leaving one when attending to the other. In other cases, they are not able to distinguish between the two. For example, a problem at home may negatively affect an employee’s work even though these belong to two different places.
Additionally, the work environment may be a cause of stress to employees (Editorial, 2010). As in the case of the police officer, having to encounter criminals, firearms, angry and hurt people may be a major source of emotional stress. In other kinds of situations, stress may be due to the actual location of employment. Some places are quite insecure and deserted. In other words, there are places that have very harsh living conditions. Even with the presence of a good compensation plan, life insecurities cannot be compensated (Bowling et al. 2010). Another unsuitable working environment is brought about when an employer does not provide the right materials/ facilities to accomplish the required tasks. Despite such incapacities, good performance is still needed. All these are sources of stress especially the compensation fails to be an adequate motivator.
Solutions and Recommendations
A growing interest on the evaluation, planning and implementing of occupational health interventions that will improve psychosocial working conditions by organizations has been noticed in the past few years (Nielsen et al., 2010). Work-related stress problems are growing day by day as the workload increases due to growth in economies and the general population. High blood pressures, ulcers, depression, mental problems, suicides, amongst others, are some of the frequently occurring problems in people who have reported stress. Fortunately, there is a way that majority of the factors at work leading to stress can be avoided or addressed.
To begin with, leaders at the workplace should behave in the appropriate manner. Most companies, firms and other workplaces have policies that protect every employee in the particular work environment (Leka et al., 2010). Workplaces that do not have such policies should implement them in order to avoid such cases as sexual harassment or employee victimization (Bowling et al., 2010). Workshops and refresher courses should also be administered to the leaders frequently. These will guide a long way in making any updating or gauging. Employee feedback should also be enquired in order to know the leaders who are not on the right track in terms of employee victimization or treatment (Bowling et al., 2010).
Stress management causes/workshops/seminars should be arranged for the employee by the employer. These will give the employees knowledge on how to manage stress from a professional’s perspective. In other cases, a counselling/training department should be available in order to offer counselling services to the employees. Talking about the problem goes a long way in its solution. These professionals provided by the employer should guide the employee in knowing how to balance work and home affairs (Brough & O’Driscoll, 2010). Indeed, most people commit suicide because they felt overwhelmed and felt as though there was no one to whom they could talk. Employers should encourage their employees to take advantage of the provided services.
Employers should be able to provide the right working environment when possible. The employees should be given good compensation plans as long as he/she is giving corresponding productivity. Gauging an employee working with insufficient facilities and material with the same level as another with adequate facilities is unfair and a good recipe for stress and its related problems. Employers should come up with fair ways of gauging these employees in order to motivate them. Legalized employee unions and groups have played a major role in ensuring that the complaints of the employees are addressed. They also ensure that employees are treated in the right way (Leka, et al., 2010).
Employees are as important as the business itself. Work related stress is diverse depending on the type of field one is in. It also depends on ones workplace. However, there are problems that are common in most workplaces. Problems brought by the leaders in the workplace, the employer, the work environment and even the work itself are many. It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that he/she has done everything they can to help the employee cope with the stress or avoid/remove the cause of the stress altogether. The consequences of stress are numerous. One major consequence that directly affects the employee is high employee turnover. This affects the productivity of the company, costs the company a lot of money and resources, and affects the general performance of the company.
The government’s intervention in work related matters is evident in most countries. Workers are legally protected and a number of their issues are addressed in the country’s constitution (Leka et al., 2010). It is important for the organization that employees be enlightened on how to manage stress. The loss of an employee due to work related stress is a monumental loss to an employer, a family and a country as a whole. If an employer work related issues relevant to a given employee, the results from the employee will not only be beneficial to the employee but to the employer as well.
Bowling, N. A., Beehr, T. A., Bennet, M. M. & Watson, C. P., (2010). Target Personality and Workplace Victimization: A Prospective Analysis. Work & Stress, Vol. 24(2): 140-158.
Brough, P. & O’Driscoll, M. P., (2010). Organizational Interventions for Balancing Work and Home Demands: An Overview. Work & Stress, Vol. 24 (3): 280-297.
Davoren, M & McCauley, (2007). The Columns: Work Related Stress. The Psychiatrist, Vol. 31: 316.
Editorial (2010). Organizational Interventions: Issues and Challenges. Work & Stress, Vol. 24 (3): 217-218.
Leka, S., Jain, A., Zwetsloot, G. & Cox, T., (2010). Policy-level Interventions and Work-related Psychosocial Risk Management in the European Union. Work and Stress, Vol. 24, (3):298-307.
Nielsen K., Randall, R., Holten, A.L & Gonzalez, E. R., (2010). Conducting Organizational-level Occupational Health Interventions: What Works. Work & Stress, Vol. 24(3):237-259.
Skakon, J., Nielsen, K., Borg, V. & Guzman, J., (2010). Are Leaders’ Well-being, Behaviours and Style Associated with the affective Well-being of their Employees? A Systematic Review of Three Decades of Research. Work & Stress, Vol. 24 (2): 107-139.
Place an order in 3 easy steps. Takes less than 5 mins.