How to avoid stress at work

There are several ways that an enterprise can prevent stress at work. Some of the organizational measures include:

  • Making sure that the workers have the reserves and abilities to handle the workload.
  • Creating meaningful job descriptions that include enough prospects for employees to utilize their abilities.
  • Ensuring that the employees have clear guidelines on procedures and tasks.
  • Involving employees in decision making processes that influence their jobs
  • Creating effective communication channels that can be used to reduce doubt about career prospects and security.
  • Promoting social contact among employees
  • Adapting shifts or work hours to accommodate family life, and other responsibilities.

There cannot be one set of rules for all companies, but enterprises can follow these basic steps to prevent stress at work:

  • Crisis detection
  • Action
  • Assessment

Companies need to prepare a prevention plan that includes the following:

  • Creating universal understanding about stress at work such as the main causes, expenses, and management of stress.
  • Establish top level dedication and support for the stress prevention plan
  • Integrate worker participation in all stages of the plan
  • Examine the practical ability to carry out the plan such as employing human resource councilors or providing stress prevention workshops.
  • Creating problem resolving instruments through the establishment of a combined subordinate and management group.
  • Recognition of worker contribution to the enterprise goals.
  • Ensuring that the manager styles and actions comply with the company standards.
  • Providing recognition for work performance.

Companies shouldn't wait until signs of stress appear in the workplace, but should take pro-active steps to ensure that stress at work doesn't become a crisis.

Crisis Detection

If there is suspicion or signs of a stress related problem, enterprises can set-up discussion sessions between managers and subordinates. This measure may be enough to eliminate stress related issues in smaller companies. Larger institutions can use the outcome of the discussions to create questionnaires regarding issues and distribute it among the rest of the employees to get their feedback.

The information gathering methods may differ, but it is vital to obtain employee and management input on the level of anxiety, dissatisfaction, and perceived well-being of the company's employees.

Observance of non-attendance, ill health and resignations, or performance irregularities, can be used to determine the existence and extent of stress at work. These observances are general signs of work related stress. Information from deliberations and reviews should be evaluated to answer queries about the area of a stress issue and work circumstances that may have caused it.

The enterprise may need the assistance of stress experts from tertiary institutions in drawing up surveys, although the responsibility of the prevention plan should stay within the corporate body.

Action

Once the problem has been identified and analyzed, the next step is to take action in solving the issues. In the case where there is not yet a stress at work problem, pro-active measures should commence.

Companies can address workload problems by reassigning tasks to other divisions; make use of streamlining systems, and installing time management measures. Ergonomics related problems may require redesigning of the work space, while some issues may be limited to specific employees. In this case stress management workshops and counseling may suffice. Once action plans are in place for the different areas of stress, the next step can be taken.

Assessment

It is an important step in the action process. Assessment is required to establish whether the intervention resulted in positive transformations and what other measures are necessary.

The company should set a time table for assessing the process. This must be in the form of long term and short tem objectives. Since many of the prevention plans may not result in long term solutions, new prevention plans should be in place for those areas of stress.

These assessments should be based on similar data collected during the crisis detection stage. This includes perceptions about stress appearances, work circumstances, illnesses and job requirements. The stress prevention plan must be in the form of continued intervention, and not a once off process. Companies should inform the workers before any actions are taken. This can be done through an introductory meeting where everyone can provide input.

Companies can prevent stress at work after the intervention by:

  • Creating a safe setting in which to labor
  • Installing measures to prevent harassment and discrimination
  • Treating workers in a fair and equal manner
  • Organizing workload distribution and noting responses on accomplishments
  • Motivating employees to take care of their mental and physical well-being
  • Creating open communication channels
  • Providing training opportunities
  • Providing counseling assistance programs
  • Ensuring career growth opportunities exist and that an alternative position is available for employees, who reach the ceiling.

The employee has a responsibility to make use of the available instruments and channels. This should be encouraged at all times.