Stress is a silent catalyst that supports unhealthy habits like smoking, alcohol abuse and overeating. It can also have an impact on the cardiovascular system, digestive system, nervous system and metabolic system and lead to panic attacks.
A stress-free and safe working environment is the right of every employee, but the workplace can sometimes be very stressful. In this environment, the human body reacts to stress as a threat, which triggers defense mechanisms: an increased heart rate, tense muscles, elevated stress hormones and raised blood pressure. It is vital for every company to take care of its employees. Hands-on training can help.
Common Contributors to Workplace Stress
Below are a few factors that can cause the work environment to be stressful:
- Task design, including heavy responsibilities, long work hours, inconsistent breaks, routine assignments and insufficient time to complete tasks.
- Position in the organization, including role uncertainty, role conflict, other people’s lack of accountability, organizational boundary disputes.
- Professional development, including over-promotion, under-promotion, loss of job stability and reduced dashed motivation.
- Relationships in the workplace, including with superiors, managers and peers and challenges with the distribution of responsibility.
- Organizational framework and environment, including little to no involvement in decision-making, restrictions on behaviors or participation, and lack of proper consultation in office policies and financial difficulties.
6 Steps for Reducing Workplace Stress
Preventing and managing stress at work requires effort at the corporate level. An approach that is restricted to treating people who are already stressed is similar to sticking plaster on cuts without addressing what caused the injury. An alternate analogy is attempting to race up the “down” escalator.
Stress management training should cover all dimensions of stress and the factors that contribute to it. While vigilance is a priority, preventive training can help control the danger and reduce the consequences of the hazard. This comprehensive process consists of six steps:
1. Hazard Assessment
Accurately identify the stress factors in the work environment for specific groups of workers, and evaluate the extent of those workers’ exposure to those factors. For example, when considering task design as a possible stressor, the hazard assessment should include an observation of the task that looks for things like overload or insufficient time or resources to complete the task.
2. Harm Assessment
Gather data to evaluate whether exposure to the stress factors is contributing to compromised well-being in the team or organization. After collecting the task design hazard assessment data, for instance, a training professional would be able to forecast the impact on the employee’s stress level.
3. Identification of Possible Risk Factors
Investigate the correlations between vulnerability to stressors and hazard interventions to classify likely risk factors and assess their scale and importance. This process would involve recording all underlying risks related to task design, including symptoms of stress, such as headache and high blood pressure.
4. Overview of Underlying Processes
Analyze and evaluate the processes by which the stressors harm the well-being of the team or organization, such which elements of a task’s design are contributing to stress.
5. Audit of the Organizational Structure and Workplace Support Services
Evaluate current management systems in terms of stress management and job stress exposure and in terms of how well they support workers facing difficulties. In this step, the training professional would ensure that the task design is compatible with the structure, operations and support services of the organization.
6. Suggestions for Reducing Risk
Carefully considering current management control and employee service structures, make recommendations for reducing stress risk levels, including training initiatives. In the case of task design stressors, all elements that are found to contribute to stress must be adapted or replaced with less stressful procedures.
Progress in managing and preventing stress will rely on the atmosphere of the company. It is important to create a culture of transparency and empathy rather than accusation and critique. Developing this culture requires strong leadership and mentorship, the formation and execution of stress-related policies, processes to detect risks early, and analysis of success to strengthen risk management methods. Last, but not least, organizations should measure the effectiveness of training, preferably with a control group.
Stress in the workplace can damage employees’ mental and physical well-being, so it is important for companies to address it. As companies become more competitive, many are also creating a more stressful work environment. Training can help create a better and more productive office environment.