High pressure is expensive: to the organisations and to the working members alike.
A research study by American Psychological Association estimated that more than $500 billion is drained off from the US economy because of workplace stress, and 550 million workdays are lost each year due to stress on the job as reported by Harvard Business Review.
In India, a study by Towers Watson in 2014 stated that the employees feel “overwhelmed” at the productivity demands by the organisations.
There are various studies conducted on managing workplace stress and strategies to be followed by the organisations and the employees to manage “the high-pressure environment” to mitigate stress. And these strategies are aimed at creating a healthy job environment.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), “a healthy job is likely to be one where the pressures on employees are appropriate in relation to their abilities and resources, to the amount of control they have over their work, and to the support they receive from people who matter to them”.
How do we work towards creating a healthy work environment? A brochure released by Stichting Van De Arbeid, a labour foundation suggests five stage-strategy to address the work place pressure.
Awareness of the problem: often the high pressure is perceived as the employee’s inability to cope with the role. While personal factors such over working or under working or other issues act as determinants, organisational factors also add to the pressure. Sudden increase in workload which leads to working for long hours, sudden introduction or change of working style or strategies, new projects without adequate time for preparation are various factors that can be looked at when employees go through stress at work place.
Analysing and measuring: When the problem is identified, analysing the functioning of the personnel and organisational work culture helps identify the stressor. If the person’s working style is the detrimental factor to the productivity, helping and training the person adapt his or her style will address the issue. If it is an organisational change that has caused the stress, then working towards strategies towards healthy adaptation will help deal with the issue.
Selecting measures: The best approach is said to be a combination of measures targeting both the employees and organisational strategies. These measures focus both work related and person related factors and take other general factors into account: limiting the time of work, rotating work responsibilities, training, coaching on management skills and handling stress, improving communication among other measures.
Introducing measures: Some employees and organisations are capable of enforcing improvement strategies on their own while some require external help in form of therapy and consultations. Identify what works best for you to enforce helpful measures. Involve all the concerned members and departments to make these measures successful.
Follow-up and evaluation: Evaluation is an important factor in determining efficacy of a strategy; be it personal or organisational. Periodic evaluation helps the personnel and the company to maintain the focus and keep stress at bay. Also, it helps identify the need for change and introducing of new strategies. Evaluation could be conducted by collecting feedback from employees, holding periodic meetings and measure the productivity levels and keep the absenteeism and revenue loss in check.
Adequate number of working hours, personal wellbeing, healthy support system and in-charge of responsibilities and clarity on job role go a long way in creating a healthy job.
Cameron, E. S. (2015, December 1). Proof That Positive Work Cultures Are More Productive. Harvard Business Review.
Deoras, B. P. (2015, June 19). Why Employees in India are Stressed at Workplace? Economic Times.
Michie, S. (2002). Causes and Management of Stress at Work. Occup Environ Med, 67-72.