These brief stress audit case studies from PGA Group Consulting Psychologists show how the presence and the effects of stress at work were identified, addressed and relieved to the benefit of three organizations and their people.
Several links to resources on this site, including an overview of the stress audit method and process are provided after the stress audit case studies below.
Jump down to: Introduction | Company A | Company B | Company C | Lessons | Links
The stress audit is an important stress management diagnostic process which combines organizational development survey methods with sophisticated stress tests and stress testing techniques.
The stress audit’s purpose is primarily to identify stress symptoms and stress causes in the workplace, how individuals are coping with stress and managing stress at work, and how possibly to improve the work environment and /or the organization in such a way as to reduce stress levels and the negative effects of stress, improve satisfaction and well-being, and improve organizational and individual performance.
In short, as these stress audit case studies will show, the stress audit can show organizations and individuals how to deal with stress in the workplace.
All the organizations discussed in these stress audit case studies were able to relieve stress at work by bringing stress under control through the use of a stress audit. The organizations brought about positive change in the workplace for the benefit of their people and for their own benefit.
Stress Audit Case Study A
This stress audit case study is about Company A, a 100-year-old UK manufacturing organization. The company employs 15,000 people and operates on 50 sites. It primarily supplies the agricultural machinery markets.
The company set itself the objective of pulling itself out of a stagnant loss-making situation and to regain market dominance. It set out to accomplish this by completely redesigning its manufacturing techniques through lessons learnt from Japanese companies. The company also implemented a large-scale programme of organizational restructuring involving decentralization and the establishment of cost centres. However, the payoffs were not as great as expected, even after several years of development.
The programme of large-scale change, in the context of an already ailing business had improved performance at a slower than expected rate. Individuals were experiencing stress also. Changes were being implemented and performance was being improved slowly but at a high personal cost (in terms of health) and high organization cost (in terms of disappointing efficiency increases).
Senior managers presumed that middle managers were experiencing the worst stress, being caught between upper management and the work force. A stress audit was conducted with middle managers at each site. The hypothesis was confirmed by the stress audit. An analysis of the stress audit results indicated that stress levels were greater than expected and that many middle managers had adopted stressed styles of behaviour. The stress audit revealed that many of the middle managers perceived also that several of the changes going on around them were outside their influence or control.
Analysis of stress sources and stress coping strategies employed by the middle managers revealed that the organizational development effort itself had the effect of being a source of stress. This in turn made it difficult for people to cope with the change of working practices.
The organization decided therefore to implement additional programmes of stress counselling, and to address the issues of roll clarity and participation in change planning. The latter were seen as complimentary inputs to the development process. Efficiency gains and a reduction of stress were realized as a result.
Stress Audit Case Study B