How Can Organizations Approach Stress Management for their Employees?

How Can Organizations Approach Stress Management for their Employees?

One of the most pressing problems that contemporary business organizations confront is reduced productivity of employees emanating from, among other factors, the stress that these employees face in the workplace.

The stress caused by work represents a serious threat to workers’ health and, as a direct and immediate consequence, to the internal work culture of organizations. Therefore, it is essential to help provide companies with information and tools to help them reduce work-induced stress to a minimum.

Stress caused by work can be defined as the harmful physical and emotional reactions that occur when the demands of the task or overall job do not equal the worker’s capabilities, resources, or fit with their needs. This situation can result in a detriment to their physical health or emotional well-being.

Working conditions are a major producer of workplace stress. However, the effects of workplace environment can also be heavily influenced by individual factors and by the ability of the worker to balance work and working conditions with stresses occurring in their family or personal life. 

Among the work conditions that can cause stress is the design of the work, the management style of the organization, the makeup of the labor force with respect to how well the employee feels they are supported by or fit in with their fellow workers, interpersonal relations, the role assumed in the work, the orientation or aspirations of their professional career, and the environment created by the organization to help make the workplace feel comfortable and supportive.

“It is relevant to notice the increase in cardiovascular diseases, musculoskeletal conditions, psychological conditions such as depression, anxiety, and exhaustion due to stress. As a consequence of this, there is also a higher cost of medical care for workers who suffer these alterations and inevitably a considerable drop in their level of productivity for their organizations. These stressful conditions associated with work are linked to absenteeism, tardiness, resignations, as well as to physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.,” adds Dr. Ross Michael Ungerleider, a congenital heart surgeon, professional coach, and organizational consultant. As a cardiac surgeon, he developed numerous innovations in the field of congenital heart surgery, including pioneering the technique of echocardiography in the operating room for evaluating the adequacy of heart repairs in children. He is also well recognized as a leader in promoting emotional wellbeing for the occupational workforce, and for helping professionals in high stress find ways to better manage issues of work and life balance and has published on these topics.

“Organizations should design policies that benefit the physical, emotional and mental health of their workforce.  For the worker, this can be extremely important and for the organization it provides the added value of positively affecting productivity” notes Dr. Ungerleider.

One of the most recommended current trends and strategies for success consists of introducing different specialized coaching interventions into the training programs of companies, either with internal coaches who are familiar with the organization’s training policies, or with an external coach, specialized in equipping and providing the employees of the organization with fully tools and resources to manage their demands as they search for individually effective and specific solutions.

Coaching, primarily specialized in the field of health, is a combined personal, business, and executive process focused on the individual and helping them with their own personal problems derived from stress. Coaching is becoming an important tool that organizations can offer their workforce to better manage their stress.

The fundamental objective of coaching is to help workers better understand the nature and source of their stress, the effects it produces on their health, and introduce them to some necessary skills, both personal and professional, to help them better manage this stress. A secondary product of coaching can be that the coach, through their work with the employee client, can identify factors in the organization or the work environment that might be changed, with the help of the organization, to better improve working conditions for numerous workers.

This secondary benefit of coaching can help change the work culture without altering the organization’s corporate structure or mission.

Coaching establishes a collaborative relationship between the individual, group, or specific department that suffers from a certain degree of stress and the coach, whose main mission is to offer some alternative solutions for how to manage what is happening in the workplace in a way that can lead to enhanced emotional balance, quality of life, and coordination between the personal and professional life of the workforce.  In this way, coaching can increase the efficiency of professionals in their daily management work.

Sometimes, in order to identify the origin of stress in the organization, meetings or brainstorming sessions are held so that the affected group can express their various opinions regarding the sources of stress and, likewise, suggest alternatives and real measures that seem more suitable for the solution of the problem within the organization’s structure.

Once the causes above are identified, a personalized Coaching Program can be developed and designed that adopts potential corrective measures and integrates this into a plan to combat workplace induced stress.

Confidential coaching sessions, both individually and in groups, are often essential for the program to be successful; the coach’s experience and training is also a factor of special relevance. Coaches who are familiar with the organizational work are often better able to understand and connect with the workforce and also make salient suggestions to the organizational leaders regarding what might be worth considering as a solution.

To monitor the effectiveness of the implemented program, periodic studies will be carried out regarding working conditions and stress symptoms.

Coaching can help individuals as well as groups of workers improve their range of options in managing stressful situations. This can result in improved productivity, but even more, it can result in unifying the relationship between managers and their workforce, helping to make the workplace experience more fulfilling and enjoyable. This can reduce employee turnover and help retain workers who are committed to and loyal to the organization.

Published by Martin Gray

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