For many organisations, the first time the symptoms of workplace stress are noted is when an employee lodges a Workers Compensation claim.
However, there are many other ways that stress in the workplace manifests itself, including:
• High absenteeism and “presenteeism”.
• Excessive incidences of conflict.
• Poor employee engagement, engagement plans that prove ineffective.
• Unexpected industrial action.
• Declining KPI’s, such as Productivity, Efficiency and OHS measures.
• Low employee retention, especially talent.
HOW WORKPLACE STRESS IS USUALLY MANAGED NOW
Whilst the symptoms shown above should provide businesses with a call to action, there are 3 factors that inhibit businesses from directly addressing the causes of their workplace stress, being;
1. Organisations rarely want to acknowledge that they are responsible for the stress their people experience.
2. Individuals are reluctant to admit to and discuss their stress for fear of being judged.
3. Most organisations are unclear on how to manage stress at an institutional level, and the skills, knowledge and resources required are not readily available to them.
When an organisation is moved to intervene, the most common response to stress in the workplace is to provide rehabilitation, counselling, therapy or treatment to the affected individuals. Research shows that this tertiary response is the least effective and most costly.
More recently, businesses have been adopting secondary interventions, in the form of employee resilience training, relaxation methods, pre-emptive counselling and targeted stress management training. These coping mechanisms do have some short to medium term impact on the stress experience for employees.
Unfortunately, these approaches fail to meet the required Workplace Health and Safety Management Standards and the Hierarchy of Hazard Controls, and as a consequence the stressors and their effects remain.
What happens in your workplace environment? How is workplace stress handled?