Well-designed, organised and managed work is good for us but when insufficient attention to job design, work organisation and management has taken place, it can result in Work related stress.
Work related stress develops because a person is unable to cope with the demands being placed on them. The common causes of stress at work tend to be: boring and repetitive work patterns, poor physical working environments, isolated working situations, difficult communication between colleagues, and possible continuous harassment from managers to meet deadlines. When jobs and careers are also badly conducted by an organization, this can also cause stress to the employee.
Stress, including work related stress, can be a significant cause of illness and is known to be linked with high levels of sickness absence, staff turnover and other issues such as more errors. This stressful situation in turn, can arise in their employees’ feelings of unfairness, lack of understanding of the managers, and overall resentment on these. When these stressful situations occur at work people feel often undervalued and consequently start performing poorly at work. Employees who become poorly motivated, often show behaviours such as: missed deadlines, poor productivity, ineffective decision making, poor time-keeping and absenteeism.
These behaviours have an impact to businesses (Stranks, 2006) and therefore, some organizations develop an “aggressive culture”, where complaining employees are dealt with an aggressive reaction from their managers.
As a result, businesses develop further difficulties, with, employees losing commitment to the success of the organization, increased number of accidents, staff turnover, high levels of absenteeism, reduced performance of the workforce, an increased complaint from clients, and not to mention an increase in civil claims for stress-induced injury resulting in increased employers’’ liability insurance premiums.
There are also some other potential financial serious consequences of work related stress to businesses. According to some of the latest statistics from HSE (HSE, 2006a), stress at work costs 3% of the national gross product. Stress at work also amounts to more than 10 times the cost of all industrial disputes nationally and it causes the loss of 40 million working days each year.
Stress can hit anyone at any level of the business and recent research shows that work related stress is widespread and is not confined to sectors, jobs or industries.
I use a holistic, and include a HSE Management Standards approach to tackling work-related stress; these Standards represent a set of conditions that, if present, reflect a high level of health, well-being and organisational performance.