Job Stress – A Health and Safety Issue
Job stress can pose a significant threat to the health and safety of corporations’ employees and can consequently affect the health of an entire organization. If the symptoms are properly recognized by Human Resource (HR) personal, the devastating affects that job stress and its’ associated costs have on an organization can be minimized. This paper will look at what are some of the causes of job stress, the resulting symptoms, the consequences to employers if the symptoms are not addressed, and some of the programs employers can implement to reduce the adverse effects of stress in the workplace. It is important that both employees and employers recognize and understand job stress and its causes. Many employers can confuse job challenges and job demands. Most employees and employers view a job challenge as a motivating factor, which enables them to grow within their assigned positions. This motivation has the potential to produce positive results that benefit both employees and employers. However, when a challenge becomes too demanding, employees often resort to the fight or flight response. At the onset of these demanding situations, the employee does not have the “true” opportunity to fight or flee, and as a result the increased energy and emotions that they encounter is internalized and over time manifests itself as stress. Stress is not an illness, however prolonged exposure to stressful conditions can increase the risk of injury or disease. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (“NIOSH”), job stress can be defined as "the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the employee"(Stress). Some common situations that create these situations include management style, interdepartmental relationships, work roles, career concerns, work-life issues, and environmental conditions. Typically, people are affected by an assortment of these situations and at a variety of levels. There are many forms of management styles used today. But the most common mistake made by managers within these styles that causes job stress is when they expect results without establishing clear goals and/or not providing the properly training so that the job tasks can be performed. A good example would be a departmental supervisor that is responsible for increasing profitability and decreasing overhead, without receiving a budget amount from the manaagement. With no clear goal to reach, how can the manager decide where to decrease the overhead and by how much. I recently experienced this at my former employer. They wanted sales increase, but gave no direction to by how much they wanted them increased and how much money I could spend to reach an increase in sales. Another example would be in having an employee operate unfamiliar equipment on a manufacturing plant floor. There have been many instances where managers have given an order to increase production and employees have been assigned to equipment that they were unfamiliar with. The employee is thrown into “harms way” and becomes afraid, nervous and cautious. The end result is usually production levels actually decrease. Many injuries have occurred because of these poor decisions from a hard driving results oriented management decision. In all companies, there are interdepartmental relationships that affect each others performance. In many companies, workers in one department have little influence in the decision making process of the other departments that affect them. For example, a customer service representative is responsible for fielding incoming calls. Inevitably, there are calls from an angry customers concerned about a late shipments. The representative has no control over the shipping department and in fact has virtually no communication with that department on a daily basis. After listening to the...
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