Stress in the Workplace Essay

Thesis The purpose of this paper is to look at stress in the workplace and its effects on family, medical and work effectiveness. By looking at a few studies, this paper will show the relevance between stress from the job and depression and issues in the family, issues with health problems and low job performance. Conclusion Effective tools for dealing with stress will decrease stress, improve the physical and emotional/mental health of workers, increase worker productivity, improve worker satisfaction, and decrease interpersonal problems as a whole.

Stress in the workplace is a common occurrence that is dealt with in many ways, some positive and some negative; healthy ways to deal with stressors increases work satisfaction, decreases health problems, benefits relationships, and improves a person’s outlook on life. Stress is a part of everyday life and cannot be avoided completely. The way we cope with stress in the workplace affects our coworkers, employers, employees, our home life, our social life, and ourselves; it is important to raise awareness of this issue to benefit the aforementioned.

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It is also imperative for employers to take an active role in decreasing work related stress, hence increasing worker satisfaction, improving business, and promoting a positive work environment. The research done on Major Depressive Episodes and Work Stress talks about the leading cause of disability is depression. It is believed that structural changes in the workplace over the last thirty years may have been some of the reasons for the increase stress. This study is looking at proving that people that are experiencing higher job demands will be at “higher risk for 12 month major depressive episodes” (Blackmore, 2007).

This study used an almost equal study of men and women, middle to upper class, and higher income level jobs. The study showed that there was a relationship between job stress and major depressive episode. The study showed that the reasons were different for men and women but still caused depression no matter the reason. Workers and employers who do not deal with stressors effectively increase risk of physical health problems, mental health problems, relationship problems, and personal problems due to lack of knowledge on how to effectively cope with stress.

This is of significant importance because of the impact we all have on one another in the workplace. A coworker or boss that has a negative attitude due to poor coping skills can have a negative domino effect on coworker/employees and the business as a whole. A company that does not provide solutions for stress in the workplace is setting itself up for negative events in the workplace. A person or company that handles stress effectively can have the opposite domino effect and be a positive to those around them and to the business.

Some employers wait until a problem arises before any action is taken to manage stress in the workplace (Anonymous, 2009). In a study, done by the IRS Employment Review, it is found that “64% use the Health & Safety Executive’s management standards on work-related stress, but only 46% adopt the HSE’s model stress policy”. (Anonymous, 2009) It is counterproductive to confront a problem after the domino effect has already begun. It can be solved at any point in one way or another but it is much more effective to train workers in prevention and positive ways to cope with stress.

Some problems in the workplace are not known until an event occurs so prevention is not the solution for all problems but it can decrease the outbreak of negative events. It can also make workers aware of steps to take when they are feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Larger companies tend to have programs in place associated with their Employee Assistance Programs (EAP). EAPs typically offer counseling and various other services that are beneficial in times of crisis. In a January 2009 article in Occupational Health there was an example of a worker named Tony who was off work due to a back injury caused by an at home injury.

The company was a auto manufacturing company and Tony worked on the assembly line. Tony was directed to the physiotherapist for the company and it was disclosed that he had also been witness to an assault in public where the victim was killed. Tony had even attempted to resuscitate the victim without success. Now, the bigger issue for Tony seemed to be his trauma associated with the public killing, not just his back injury. Tony coped poorly with this and admitted that he had been drinking alcohol heavily in an attempt to deal with things.

Also, his home life was suffering as a result of his poor coping skills. Tony then entered counseling and rehabilitation. Seven weeks later Tony returned to work and his negative symptoms had improved but, he was still struggling somewhat. The company provided continued support and counseling and by the end of a year Tony was stable (Rainbird, 2009). This is an example of a company that addressed the problem after it had already escalated to a degree but did not allow it to escalate further. It is also an example of a company that most likely has higher worker satisfaction than the norm.

Many companies would have cut ties with Tony for his alcohol problem alone, or decided treatment for him would have been too costly and counterproductive. Other workers most likely noticed the time and effort the company put towards helping Tony which increases morale in the workplace. United Parcel Service (UPS) is an example of a company that is taking proactive measures to combat stress in the workplace according to an August 2008 article in “Professional Safety”. In 1995 UPS began a program to combat stress in the workplace. It is a 12-month program with a different topic each month.

Topic vary and address issues such as heart disease, importance of exercise, yoga, weight loss groups, mental health awareness, understanding high cholesterol, immunization awareness, and other topics that relate to stress and its effects on a person. It is presented to the workers in a way that is not like a mandate but more like a good opportunity to improve health. “On the whole, UPS has seen a decrease in absenteeism, an increase in productivity and morale, and a 60% reduction in on-the-job injuries since the program was first implemented. ” (Bloom, 2008) UPS not only benefitted its workers but also benefitted the company as a whole.

It also reduced doctor visits and lowered the risk of long-term health problems for workers which help reduce insurance costs lower for the company. The idea is basically to give the workers the tools to live more healthy lives and the workers will become healthier. This increases work production and lowers company costs. It also influences the family members of the workers in positive ways as well, inspiring some family members to become healthier as well. Overall, in spite of the cost to UPS, due to the numerous benefits, It is a win-win situation. UPS has one of the highest worker satisfaction rates in the corporate world at 98%. ” (Bloom, 2008) Mental and emotional problems also result from poorly dealing with stress in the workplace. The findings of a survey in the United Kingdom in 2008 suggest that mental health is the second largest cause of time lost due to sickness absence, and that stress, depression and anxiety account for more than 50% of these mental health problems. (Paton, 2008) Depression is the leading cause of disability and is projected to become the second leading cause of the global burden of disease by 2020 (Paton, 2008).

Depression affects productivity, absenteeism, cohesion among coworkers, employee turnover rates, can lead to premature retirement, and many other aspects of the workplace. Since depression has been called the ‘common cold’ of mental illness, it is prevalent in most workplaces. Some hide depression better than others. But, over the long haul, it will seep into the workplace and have negative effects. High job strain, low levels of social support in the workplace, low job security, and increased psychological demands were associated with major depressive episodes among men.

Among women, lower levels of social support and lack of decision authority were associated with major depressive episodes. “Effective treatment with medication may reduce the likelihood of experiencing major depressive episodes or enable those who are at risk to cope better with work stress” (Blackmore et al. , 2007). Awareness is the key in combating problems such as depression and anxiety. Also, support from the employer and assuring confidentiality through the EAP. If a company does not have an EAP, empathy is paramount in decreasing the effects of depression in the workplace.

Single mothers suffer higher rates of depression and psychological stress than do married mothers in the workplace. This is due to stressful life circumstances that single working mothers face. There is typically more financial and parenting stress in a single parent home, this is naturally going to affect the workplace. Parenting stress reflects the ongoing demands and difficulties associated with raising children. Stressors associated with parenting include time constraints, finding childcare, increased household tasks, and competing domestic and employment roles.

An employer needs to be aware of the dynamics of its employees and provide outlets to alleviate stress, depression, and anxiety in the workplace. Stress can lead to ill health and irrational health beliefs that will have definite negative effects in the workplace. Examples of irrational beliefs according to an article in “The Optician” by Millington are: I must be liked by everyone, we have very little control over what happens to us, it is easier to run away from difficulties than to face them, and we are products of our upbringing and can do little to change who we are.

Combating irrational beliefs involves awareness. Many are not aware that their thinking is skewed irrationally; they just are as they have always been. Self awareness is clouded in the workplace typically due to being so busy at work that a person does not have the time to be more self aware (Millington, 2009). Excessive workloads are common occurrences in the workplace these days. Also, poor balance between work and other aspects of a person’s life are to blame (Anonymous, Fluffy Sox, 2009). Work-a-holism is a common occurrence; many put excessive time and energy into their work and risk burnout over time.

They also risk negatively affecting other areas of their life that are out of balance due to their work-a-holism. Employers need to promote a balance, not overwork their employees by providing flexible schedules, promote healthy living practices, and maintain a workforce of people that are striving to cope effectively rather than ineffectively (Paton, 2008). Manifestations of stress and anger are becoming more evident in society, and in the workplace. Anger, an emotion associated with stress, often affects other aspects of everyday life, including the workplace; “Stress and anger are becoming more prevalent in society” (Shirey, 2007).

Anger is typically caused by stress from fast-paced lifestyles or other negative events in a person’s personal life or work. “Anger may express itself in the form of “road rage” on the streets, “desk rage” in the workplace, and even “ward rage” in hospital settings” (Shirey, 2007). Employers need to be mindful of the anger outbursts in the workplace and realize that anger is typically a result of stress in the workplace. Strain between employees is also very counterproductive and leads to stress in the workplace. Employers need to stay aware of the dynamics and not allow one worker that is overstressed to have a negative effect.

There have been numerous incidents in the news over the years of horrific shootings and other events in the workplace. Events such as postal shootings did raise awareness for the importance of addressing stress in the workplace more diligently. Assertiveness skills and other healthy communication skills will decrease stress and anger in the workplace. According to the article in “The Optician”, there is a major difference between aggression and being assertive. The main assertive skills are: “learning to say no, learn to make request, give and receive compliments, learn to give and receive criticism, and develop and maintain self-esteem”. Millington, 2009) Assertiveness skills enhance a person’s well being, decrease stress, minimize anger, and are beneficial to all involved. It is all too easy to become trapped into doing something that you would rather not because you feel unable to say no (Millington, 2009). Discussing problems and stressors in life is also very important. We were not put on this earth to cope alone. Having a positive support system of peers in a confidential and nurturing environment has many benefits in reducing stress.

Realizing that you are not alone in finding something a problem is reassuring and different people may suggest different approaches which can diffuse the situation (Millington, 2009). Employee Assistance Programs and counseling are also safe outlets from discussing personal problems and learning new coping skills Effective tools for dealing with stress will help decrease stress, improve the physical and emotional/mental health of workers, increase worker productivity, improve worker satisfaction, and decrease interpersonal problems as a whole. The research article on the wellness program initiated by UPS was the most impressive to me.

UPS has one of the highest worker satisfaction rates in the corporate world. There were other examples not cited in this paper of personal accounts by employees of how the program benefitted their health and decreased their susceptibility to stressors in the workplace. The article on “Tony” who had back pain and was witness to a traumatic death was also evidence that a company that puts forth time and effort to nurture and help a worker has positive results. The article about irrational beliefs and being assertive provided solutions to dealing with stress more effectively.

Teaching workers to effectively deal with stress is the key to decreasing the likelihood of stress related incidents in the workplace such as anger outburst, disgruntled employees, and aggressive bosses. Referenences: Anonymous, . Managers react to stress. (2009). Occupational Health, 61(3), 28. Retrieved November 10, 2009, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 1673554741). Anonymous,. Fear and loathing and fluffy socks. (2009). Training & Coaching Today,17. Retrieved November 12, 2009, from ABI/INFORM Trade & Industry. (Document ID: 1664446121). Blackmore, E. , Stansfeld, S. , Weller, I.  Munce, S. , Zagorski, B. , & Stewart, D.. (2007). Major Depressive Episodes and Work Stress: Results From a National Population Survey. American Journal of Public Health, 97(11), 2088-93. Retrieved November 15, 2009, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 1379299381). Bloom, S.. (2008). Employee Wellness Programs. Professional Safety, 53(8), 41-42. Retrieved November 13, 2009, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 1599441841). Millington, A.. (2009, June). How to avoid stress and prevent burnout. The Optician, 237(6208), 16,18. Retrieved November 13, 2009, from ABI/INFORM Trade & Industry. Document ID: 1801023321). Paton, N.. (2008). Employers must address root cause of employee ill health. Occupational Health, 60(1), 7. Retrieved Novmeber 12, 2009, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 1414618931). Rainbird, C.. (2009). Traumatic stress. Occupational Health, 61(1), 40-42. Retrieved November 13, 2009, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 1635053311). Shirey, M.. (2007). An Evidence-Based Solution for Minimizing Stress and Anger in Nursing Students. Journal of Nursing Education, 46(12), 568-71. Retrieved November 12, 2009, from Research Library. (Document ID: 1390363201).


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