Managing Stress at Work
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Computer Science Clay
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25-02-2009, 12:10 AM

Managing Stress at Work


Managing an over worked and stressed human resource have become a challenging and ever difficult task for today's managers. With a view to utilize the available human resource thus minimizing costs and maximizing profits, today both managers and their subordinates have to coop with work related stress. This stress if it goes to certain extent without being controlled can affect the person's family/social life, health, performance etc and changes the employee's whole attitude towards work- frustrating, demotivating and frightening him/her which in the long run damages the organization and the employee both.

This paper will briefly examine the various stress-management interventions adopted by three reputed companies to improve efficiency in the work place

Life is tough and getting tougher by the day! The stress of daily living, especially as the pressure to excel mounts, impacts everyone, not just on the work front but in every single area of an individual's life In today's world of doing more with less, employees find themselves with more work, fewer resources, and less time. With a tight deadlines and a competitive work environment only the best performers are guaranteed continued employment.

All of these factors add up to a very stressful work environment. Ultimately employees take work home and worry about missing deadlines or performing inadequately and end up working longer hours.

Stress can be caused by many things in life, pressures from work, the family, social commitments and other everyday events. The word stress is derived from the Latin term 'Stringers' which means "to draw tight". Some define stress as the non-specific response of the body to any demands made on it. Stress is our physical, mental, and emotional response to the various demands, changes, and events in our life. It is an internal phenomenon and a mental attitude.

In some cases, stress motivates and encourages us to complete a task we find difficult so that we can take pride in ourselves and what we achieve.

Hans Selye was one of the founding fathers of stress research. His view in 1956, which holds true today also, was that stress is not necessarily something bad “ it all depends on how one takes it. In an ideal world, there should be just enough stress to keep employees working to their full potential, but not enough to cause overwhelm or excessive anxiety. Too much or too little stress is where we run into problems.

Stress symptoms begin to manifest themselves when an individual perceive or feel that life demands are exceeding their ability to deal with them. When stress begins to take its toll, they may experience both physical and psychological effects.
Causes or Sources of Stress

The sources of stress may be classified into two broad categories as follows:

1. Individual Stressors: Personality, motivation, ability, experience, status, life stages, beliefs and values.

2. Organizational Stressors or Environment: There are several potential stressors in the organization. These are summarized as bellow

Organizational Stressors

1. Roles in the Organization

a) Role conflict
b) Role ambiguity
c) Minimum management support
d) Holding mid-management position

2. Responsibility

a) With superiors/subordinates/ colleagues
b) Inability to delegate

3. Job Qualities

a) Time pressures
b) Work over/under load
c) Level of accountability

4. Organizational Structure

a) Lack of participation
b) No sense of belongining
c) Poor communication
d) Restriction on behavior
f) Lack of opportunity/performance evaluation/pay

5. Physical Environment

a) Working conditions like noise, lighting, aesthetic appeal of rooms etc.

6. Change

a) Individual life stages
b) Organizational- transfer, promotion, job expansion etc.

7. Career Development

a) Status conflicts
b) Obsolescence of skill
c) Mid-career stage

Consequences of Stress

1. On the Individual:

a. Physical Aliments e.g. headache, insomnia and heart problems
b. Mental e.g. anxiety, lack of clear thinking, loneliness
c. Behavioral e.g. excessive smoking, drinking, withdrawal from relationships

2. On the Organization:

Low productivity, poor quality, absenteeism, low job satisfaction, accident proneness and poor interpersonal communication.

Indian Methods of managing Stress

Indian philosophy consisting of Upanishadas, Vedanta, etc, is very helpful in winning stress. Dr. Satish Chandra Pandey (8m Journal, JIMS April-June 1997) has given some valid points on managing stress, some of which are as follows-

1. Develop training programs for executives and other staff members for their total personality development based on Indian values, so that they can develop their own strategies for coping with their organizational environment/stressors.

2. Each organization must develop its own management philosophy based on Indian values and educate its employees about that philosophy to motivate them for achieving excellence in different areas.

3. Organizations must know that reducing organizational stress is as important as motivating employees. Both the process is complementary to each other: they are not replacements.
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