Employee stress has been estimated to cost Australian employers $10.11 billion annually in presenteeism and absenteeism alone. Mental stress is now the 5th most common type of compensation claim and causes the longest time off work with the median close to 10 weeks of leave. Understanding the causes of stress and implementing prevention strategies are key considerations for both organisational profitability and employee wellbeing.
Stress involves physical, behavioural, perceptual and psychological responses caused by workplace stressors. For the individual, stress can lead to fatigue, anxiety, depression, tension, heart disease, irritability and difficulty concentrating. Employer impacts include staff turnover, reduced commitment, withdrawal, procrastination, risk of injury and incivility, all leading to lost productivity.
Yet not all stressors lead to negative outcomes. Challenge stressors can actually have the effect of producing positive work outcomes when they are considered manageable by the worker. Challenge-related work stress results from challenging job demands such as job complexity and high levels of responsibility.
Conversely, hindrance stressors interfere with an employee’s ability to succeed at work and include not understanding what is expected, inadequate resources, workplace politics, role conflict and red tape.
Challenge and hindrance stressors can have opposite effects on behavioural and other work outcomes. For example workers experiencing challenge stressors are more likely to exhibit taking charge behaviours. These behaviours included actions to adopt improved procedures for the organisation, implementing solutions to pressing workplace issues and instituting more effective work methods.
In contrast, people experiencing hindrance stressors are more likely to have an increase in sabotaging work behaviours such as making a manager look bad or undermining a work project. People who experience more workplace hindrance stressors also have increased feelings of fatigue and lack of energy.
To address workplace stress, organisations need to understand and shore up the challenge stressors while addressing the hindrance stressors that can increase undermining behaviours, stress and fatigue. To read more go to http://www.flexibility.com.au/stress.html