One of the costs, for employers, of work place stress is absenteeism, with the A.C.T.U. reporting that owing to stress, nearly fifty per cent of employees surveyed had taken time off work. Other negative effects were reductions in productivity, reduced profits, accidents, high rates of sickness, increased workers' compensation claims and high staff turnover, requiring recruiting and training of replacement staff.
While a certain amount of stress is needed to motivate individuals into action, prolonged stress can have a huge impact on overall health. More than two-thirds of visits to doctors' surgeries are for stress-related illnesses. Stress has been linked to headaches, backaches, insomnia, anger, cramps, elevated blood pressure, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and lowered resistance to infection. For women, stress is a key factor in hormonal imbalances resulting in menstrual irregularities, PMS, fibroids, endometriosis and fertility problems. Stress can also be a factor in the development of almost all disease states including cancer and heart disease.
Each profession has its own unique factors that may cause stress; below are some causes of stress that cross many professions:
Lack of recognition
Lack of support
Personal and family issues
Poor work organization
Lack of training
Long or difficult hours
Inadequate staff numbers and resources
Poor management communication
Lack of control or input
So what can be done to effectively manage workplace stress?
Educate their employees to recognise the signs of stress.
Where possible, give their employees the chance to be involved in decisions and actions that affect their jobs.
Improve employer-employee communications.
Provide employees with opportunities to socialise together.
Be understanding of employees' personal and family responsibilities.
Ensure employee workloads suit their capabilities and resources (provide more training and resources if not).
Provide support (internal) for employees who have complex stress issues.
Employees can reduce their overall stress by:
Regularly exercising, as this releases 'happy hormones'.
Eating a healthy diet, as stress depletes vital nutrients.
Getting adequate rest.
Being more organized. Get up earlier to have more time.
Delegating responsibility where possible. Say no!
Avoiding caffeine and sugar. Although this may provide an instant lift it later depletes the body of energy and nutrients.
Taking time to do things that bring enjoyment and pleasure.
Making the work environment pleasurable. Taking care of their overall health and wellbeing by practising good self-care.
Sometimes trying to implement change (even for the better) can itself cause stress and prevent a person remaining motivated. In this case it's important to get support for your stress from a counsellor, doctor, naturopath, friend, peer or life coach who specializes in stress issues.
The benefits of a systematic and joint approach to reducing work stress are:
Decrease in absenteeism
Decrease in workers' compensation claims
Reduction in workplace accidents
The most important benefit of reducing workplace stress is that it will promote a healthy, happy and pleasant work environment for all.
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