Managing Stress in the Workplace

Managing Stress in the Workplace

Debra N. Weiss-Randall (Florida Atlantic University, USA)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1049-9.ch069
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Companies want their employees to work to their potential, to have high productivity and low absenteeism. Research has shown that workers produce more when they are satisfied with their occupational role, which is dependent on a number of factors, including job control, job reward, and creating a work culture that values and responds to employee feedback. It is time for employers to develop comprehensive workplace wellness programs that incorporate a mental health component, including stress reduction programs. Stress management activities need to be integrated into the everyday life of the company, with strong, visible support from the firm's leadership. The Job-Demand Resources (JD-R) Model of stress management in the workplace provides a solid theoretical underpinning for workplace wellness programs, and enables companies to tailor stress management assessments and interventions to their industry and jobsite. EAPs should make promotion of their counseling services and accessibility to these services a higher priority so as to improve employee usage rates, which are currently quite low.
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A national health survey in Canada found that work-related stress was rated the number one health risk by employers, followed by depression and anxiety (Sunlife, 2012, 2013, 201). In the U.S., the American Psychological Association’s 2014 Work and Well-Being Survey found that 31% of employees reported feeling tense or stressed out during the workday (American Psychological Association, 2014). The five major sources of stress reported were:

  • 1.

    Low salaries,

  • 2.

    Lack of opportunity for growth and development,

  • 3.

    Uncertain or undefined job expectations,

  • 4.

    Job insecurity,

  • 5.

    Long hours (American Psychological Association, 2014).

Although 70% of employees reported being satisfied with their job, only 47% were satisfied with their employee recognition practices and only 49% are satisfied with the development opportunities offered by their employer. Only 52% of employees reported that they felt valued by their employers. Those that did report feeling valued were more likely to be in good overall psychological health and less likely to report feeling stressed out during the workday. In addition, they were more likely to report being motivated to do their very best and to recommend their workplace to others. Only 36% of employees reported that their employer regularly made changes in response to employee feedback (American Psychological Association, 2014). Trust and engagement played a major role in the workplace, accounting for more than half of the variance in employee well-being. Employees were more likely to report having trust in their employers when the employer recognized their contributions, provided opportunities for involvement, and communicated effectively. Employees were more likely to report higher engagement in their work when they had more positive perceptions of employer involvement, growth and development, and health and safety practices (American Psychological Association, 2014).

In 2005, 22.3% of the workers in 27 countries of the European Union (EU) reported symptoms caused by stress (Parent-Thirion et al., 2007). In the United Kingdom, an estimated 428,000 cases of work-related illnesses were attributable to stress; this figure represented 40% of all work-related illnesses (Kim et al., 2014). In Korea, one study found that 22% of workers experienced “critical levels of stress,” with higher levels among workers in small and medium-sized companies; male white-collar workers with high job stress suffered from more depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms than did blue-collar automobile workers with low job stress.

Kim et. al. (2014) note that participation in workplace health promotion is associated with increased worker autonomy, and enhanced justice and social support in the workplace (Kim et al., 2014). Participatory action-oriented training (PAOT) is one of the methods for engaging employees in workplace interventions. Workers who participate in a PAOT workshop identify problems in the work environment and then are guided to develop solutions to resolve the problems and improve the work environment (Kogi, 2012). This participatory approach to reducing work-related stress reduces psychosocial stressors and reinforces buffers against stress (Murphy, 1996). The application of both participatory approach methods and psychosocial stress reduction methods has been found to be effective in improving workers’ mental health and productivity (Anderzen & Arnetz, 2005).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction: An eight-week stress reduction program that includes mindfulness meditation, body scan, and yoga.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation: A stress reduction technique that involves the contraction and release of major muscle groups to release tension.

Appreciative Inquiry: A transformative leadership approach to change that is rooted in positive psychology.

Job Demand-Resources Model: A stress model that posits that well-being is a function of both job and personal demands (stressors) that lead to strain, and job, personal and social nonwork resources that lead to engagement.

Positive Psychology: The scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: A form of psychotherapy in which patient and therapist work together to develop constructive ways of thinking that will produce healthier behaviors and beliefs.

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