Stress management in modern organizations Introduction For the past decades the problem concerning stress in modern work organizations has become one of the most widely discussed subjects. Different unstable conditions of the workplace, intense relationships with co-workers, difficult unclear tasks could lead to stressful situations that would eventually resolve in different health issues. Headaches, loss of energy, emotional disorders – all of this are bright examples of what stress can cast.
And annually, as a result, businesses all around the world lose illions of dollars because of the absence of employees, health costs and lost productivity. That is why stress management is extremely important in modern organizations. Stress is an unpleasant emotional state that results when someone is uncertain of his or her capacity to resolve a perceived challenge to an important valuel . If people are afraid to lose their position or Job, if they have a bad atmosphere at work, this could create the preconditions for stress. There are three components of stress – perceived challenge, importance of values and uncertainty of resolution.
Workplace factors, that make Jobs stressful, are called Job stressors2. These stressors can concern the Job itself (the nature, specifics of the work, Job tasks, etc. ), the interpersonal relationships on work (conflicts, abusive behavior by supervisors) and the organizational context and structure (defective equipment, lack of supplies, unfair payment and reward systems). So, Jobs that require heavy work, repetitive actions, and long periods of attention will be perceived as stressful. Research has shown that all of these stressors influence the well-being of the employees.
To better understand the situation and connections of these factors to health and productivity a number of people were surveyed. They had to describe their attitude towards the Job and their health condition. Some of the researchers went even further. They took measurements of the noise level and observed every worker for a day. Every participant went through a quick medical observation. Eventually, after collecting and analyzing this data, the researchers provided the result – physical and social environment can stimulate negative emotions, poor health and low organizational commitment.
Perception of control is one of the most important elements in the occupational-stress process. Any aspect of work, schedule or location, relationships with co-workers or how tasks are done, can be taken under control. They way people interpret a situation is the key moment – some small insignificant everyday activities can be paid with little attention, others can somehow be perceived as threatening to psychological or physical well-being. These Job stressors are called perceived Job stressors and they most commonly result in such emotional reactions as anger and anxiety that are clearly negative.
Afterwards this behavior can lead to physical and behavioral strains that could damage both, the individual (smoking, alcohol abuse) and the employer (stealing, fghts with other employees). Elevated blood pressure, a heart condition in short-term could cause an upset stomach or headache, but in long-term – serious health conditions. To provide conducted a 5-year research of stress. They found out that better mental health and, as a result, lower use of medical services during these 5 years was predicted when high control was applied. So, the important factor in people’s perceptions of Job tressors and stress management in whole is control.
This paper contains the analysis of different theoretical sources, examples of 2 companies showing practical implementation of stress management and personal analysis of this problem. Theoretical Aspects Goal of Stress Management Business and organizational structure have been changed by the process of globalization with the advent of new technologies and information growth. Since conditions of work altered, the level of strain at the workplace also changed. Today stressful situations are part of life of every worker; they exist in every company, so tress becomes the responsibility of the employer.
There are several reasons why companies should take care of the level of stress that exists among their workers. As we know stress negatively affects employees in the workplace, it is associated with decreased productivity, lower work quality and absenteeism. 3 All these circumstances are costly for companies. Actually organizations understand that stress is a part of life, but it must be appropriately managed. Therefore companies should be encouraged to conduct programs for their employees that deal with hysical and mental health and wellness, including stress management programs to improve quality of life.
Thus the main goal of stress management is not to eliminate organizational stress (because every Job implies existence of stress), but to reduce it toa minimum. Needless to say, good staff and funding are often the key to success in stress management. Background and qualification of the staff sometimes play a crucial role in the process (for instance, in training programs). Moreover, financially stress management is costly even if organization is not small and can afford it. Methods in managing stress
Development of stress management and its spread not only as theory but also as practice allow us to define traditional methods to manage stress. The most applicable are meditation programs, time management programs, physical fitness programs, social support programs, etc. As a rule, all of these programs possess similar key features. We want to pay attention to three most essential: Knowledge acquisition (for instance, attitude changing and education); Skills acquisition (it refers to practical and useful techniques, for example, relaxation, yoga, time management); Feedback (feedback on performance, development, progress).
In case of implementation these features there are such positive outcomes as stress control and reduction as far as health improvement. As usual, stress management implies such objectives as education – all programs have an aim to educate employees about stress in the workplace through lectures, classes, workshops – and prevention – every program has a goal to prevent or limit stress. 5 Two methods of reducing stress Reduction of stress can be achieved by two methods – by changing the stressor (external focus) or by altering perception of the stressful situation (internal focus).
Management often concentrates on external methods to lower level of stress; however, the organization should also pay attention to internal focus, because it 6 Time management can serve as an example of external methods; meanwhile mindfulness training refers to internal focus. Mindfulness has become well accepted and applicable in managerial programs recently. New technologies have substantial impact on development of stress management. Traditional face-to-face stress management interventions for employees could be replaced by a web-based guided stress management training.
This phenomenon occurs because of the fact that raditional methods are very costly and time-consuming, however, their efficacy is questionable in different conditions. Stress coping strategies A lot of business organizations have their own stress coping strategies. The best approach is demonstrated when these strategies are based on stress factors, prevailing in organization; this method allows company to focus on problems of its employees and conduct a program which will be best convenient.
For instance, in case of the manufacturing companies employees face to great physical tension (if they work on a production system); so stress management program should take into ccount conditions of work and include physical relaxation and detensioning activities. This example can be regarded as successful implementation of stress management theory in practice. 7 As regards the time frame, stress management must be considered only as medium and long-term program. Since stress does not occur in one day, it takes months to accumulate so much stress that it influences the work; stress cannot be reduced in an one-hour-lecture.
Actually, a stress management program can be efficient only if it includes different aspects and implies long-term activity. Positive vs. Negative Value of Stress Even though negative context of stress becomes the question of discussion more often than its positive impact, one must not forget that sometimes stress can have a positive value. For example, some employees see the pressures of deadlines as positive challenges that improve the quality of their work. One of the two cases taken under consideration is dedicated to the analyses of the stress reduction practices in Coromandel Engineering Company Limited8.
According to the author of the article, Karthik Ramaiah, stress can not only be a negative factor but it can also bear a ositive grain. Low to moderate amounts of stress can encourage employees to perform better through challenge and by requiring ingenuity in the working conditions. Practical Implementation of Stress Management Coromandel Engineering Company Limited Case Excessive amounts of stress can affect a person in a variety of ways and lead to disastrous results (physical and psychological breakdowns, burnouts etc. ).
In order to minimize the possibility of stress exceeding the reasonable limits professor Karthik has studied the most significant stressors and developed a number of counter-stress easures that can be used by Coromandel Engineering Co. and other enterprises. Stress factors According to Mr. Karthik, employees of the company are concerned with a number of stress factors. The first is excessive workload or the workload that is simply beyond someone’s capabilities. Insufficient information regarding the roles of workers in the organization also concerns the employees.
They are sometimes not sure about their own power, authority and primary duties. This leads to the next problem: role know what to do in reality. Sometimes it turns out to be not that funny as it may sound. Lack of feedback can also become a problem if supported for a substantial period of time, especially for employees with lowered self-esteem. Such people start to doubt their decisions and professional capabilities without regular feedback. For other people keeping up with technological change (connected with rapid industrialization of the Indian company) is an issue to be worried about.
For the majority of them it can lead to the uncertainty in the Job expectations and future responsibilities. The last two stress factors mentioned by the author are responsibility for other people and recent episodic events. It is clear though that not all the factors contribute equally to the stress intensity inside the organization. On the other hand it is quite hard to determine the most significant stress factors due to the intangible nature of the phenomenon. Different types of employees would suffer differently from different stressors.
It is also important to understand that though there are some general stress-factors some of them are still unique for the construction industry, in which company operates, and national mentality of the modern Indian society. Regression-based strategy In order to overcome the stress-related difficulties and bring more Joy, and therefore long-lasting success in the working process, professor Karthik suggests the following steps that are based on the results of the regression analysis. The first step in his opinion is flexible working hours.
This feature has two major implications: working parents have more freedom for organizing their tough life (fertility per woman is still quite high especially compared to European states and is equal to 2. 99); workers living far from the production premises get a chance to decrease their travel time voiding rush hour. Ability to work from home is another feature connected with time efficiency and Job satisfaction. According to the author, it results in higher morale and satisfaction lowering stress and turnover in the company.
Due to the special status of the family in the Indian society elder care support can also contribute to the stress-free state of the employees who would always be sure in the wellbeing of their parents and close relatives. Personal healthcare support is also a good option to keep workers tuned and releasing them from the need of individual unrest. No doubt that ersonal psychological support is also necessary in order to relieve employees’ stress. It can come in a number of ways.
The first one is, for example, different assistance programs carried out right at the factory (or in the office) by the HR department. During the sessions workers can discuss frantic news and events with their mentors. Another way to organize it is regular tress workshops organized by the company as well. During them employees would be taught both theoretical and practical aspects of stress and stress management therefore decreasing their uncertainty and increasing self-awareness in the stress-related issues.
The third aspect of anti-stress policy (beside tangible and intangible support from the employer) is the promotion of sport exercises. It is scientifically proved, author claims, that sport activities in almost every manner positively affect the endocrine profile of the person increasing his stress-resistance on the physiological level. Problems of Stress in IT Call Centers The second case taken under analysis is written by Nagesh and Narasimha and is point out the stressfulness of the call centers employees’ Job. It is connected mostly with the nature of their occupation.
Many call centers are situated in the developing ountries, where working conditions and salary levels are quite far from the desired ones. Employees often suffer from long working hours and lack of work-life balance as it is considered normal to work much more than 8 hours per shift. Long working hours are usually accompanied by the poor ergonomics of the working station, time pressure (which can last for hours without a break), demands on serving client in real time etc. These factors contribute to the stressfulness of the working environment considerably.
Purely Job-related stressors are accompanied by the factors that could e avoided but still take place due to the peculiarities in the corporate culture. Among them is excessive control and, surprisingly, lack of communication. Career expectations that are connected with such kind of Jobs are limited and make people feel depressed about their future prospects and professional development. Almost no further opportunities are available for call centers employees. Moreover, besides being low-paid this Job is neither creative nor satisfactory for the majority of people employed in the industry.
The nature of the Job also implies the possibility to get a o-called difficult customer, which can be a stress even for well-prepared professional in this field trying not to pay attention to people’s emotions and concentrate to the maximum extent on the professional functions only. The last but not least stressor mentioned by the authors among the most important ones is the loss of identity. Being occupied by monotonous and low-skilled work people tend to doubt more and more their uniqueness and get doldrums.
Consequences of stressors According to the authors’ findings all the factors mentioned above can lead to a number physical and psychological consequences that are far from positive. All of them can be divided into three categories (determined by the faction which will incur negative aftermaths). The first is definitely the employees themselves. They suffer from low morale, work-related illnesses and anxiety, too. Employer in turn is exposed to risks connected with turnover, workers absenteeism and decreased productivity.
Customers, who fall into the third category, may stay dissatisfied with the service obtained. It is obvious that stress in the supportive services (as e. g. call centers) should not be underestimated as it leads to serious breakdowns in the personal lives f employees and professional activities of the company. Solution in IT Call Centers case In authors’ opinions, arising problems connected with stress can be addressed by the following means. Higher salaries, regular payments and better work-life balance are aimed at providing adequate working conditions in general.
The second degree of support possible is various anti-stress seminars and courses along with practical trainings. As in the first articles, authors believe that people need to be taught and shown how to deal with stress on real-life examples in order to be ready to diagnose stressors and be ready to overpass them. The third and probably the most interesting and unique group of advices is aimed at preventing sexual harassment and at providing the female part of workers with proper working conditions.
That’s why we can postulate that stress not only affects different sexes in different ways but come from different countries, nationalities and even civilizations it is clear from their analysis and findings that work-related and personal stress in the XXI century is an international issue that has similar symptoms among people of different age, sex, occupation etc. The methods that are applied to minimize stress and provide workers ith proper working conditions are usually universal but occasionally require culture-related amendments.
Conclusion People face stressful situations every day and the ability to overcome stress is extremely important for any person. Health problems, emotional disorders, uncontrollable behavior are results of poor attention to this issue. Thus stress management is the key to success of a modern organization. It is important to mention once more – stress is not necessarily a bad thing. Low amounts of stress happen to be challenging and sometimes even inspiring for the employees. For example, project deadlines, corporate competitions have the stimulation effect.
But, unfortunately, that is not always the case. So, in order to provide a healthy and friendly atmosphere an organization should take certain measures to reduce stress. In the cases mentioned above certain things were kept an eye on and changed: proper working conditions, higher salaries, regular payments, flexible working hours, ability to work from home and personal psychological support. As a result, minimized stress and benefits for the employees/employers and the company in general.