Occupational stress: A silent performance good in organisations

GOOD managers understand the correlation between healthy workers and a healthy business. Having on-site wellness programmes is becoming more important because the majority of an employee’s time is spent at the workplace. Occupational diseases have grown to be part of the daily routines, all the same very few people have managed to escape the trappings of such diseases. Occupational diseases are becoming an evil to organisational productivity stress being another silent occupational disease, which act as a performance goon in organisations.

By Emmanuel Zvada

Employee well-being acts as one of the key performance indicators in organisations and that’s undeniable. In fact, there should be an oversight in our organisations of how employee wellbeing programmes impact individuals, businesses, the economy and society so that employers will take wellness programs as investment not costs. Workplaces have tremendous chances to make employees happy, healthy, and productive, but most fall short of delivering these benefits. Cultivating a pleasant work environment is a sure way to position a company for long-term success, hence, employers should not underestimate the importance of creating a delightful office environment which is stress free.

Work-related stress has been cited as a major contributing factor to growing job dissatisfaction, high brain-drain, work-related conditions and diseases such as hypertension, stroke, mental problems, high emotions, diabetes, personality changes including alcoholism and even death among employees. Stress affects all people, regardless of race, tribe, social class, age or occupation. Stress and stress-related disorders have become one of the largest categories of occupational diseases, which, however, is receiving little or no attention, yet affecting individuals and organisations negatively. A little pressure motivates people to reach goals and deadlines, but too much of it — and for too long — pushes people toward their breaking point and that a bad stress that many employees are faced with.

So increasingly, employers all over have to pay greater attention to the effects and impact of stress on organisational performance than in the past. The effects of stress, whether triggered by work, or social constraints in the domestic arena are leading to a trim-down on the employee’s performance, increased sickness, more industrial accidents, etc. Stress can significantly affect many of the body’s immune systems, which increases the chances of one contracting any disease that come during the stressful moments. Stress can root itself from mild irritation to the kind of severe problems that might result in a real breakdown of health and finally death. Stress is caused by stimulus that people attaches to the activities that surrounds them or everything that’s affects their minds negatively, such that if the stimulus is negative therefore it is likely to cause strain on the minds of the employees (individuals).

When one is under a stressful condition, he goes through three specific stages, whether the stress came from home or industry. Conversely this does not mean that one may pass through all these stages of stress as this depends on the events that triggered the occurrence. The first stage is alarm — this happens when an individual faces any danger, and the nervous system immediately sends emergency indications to the brain. All the different body parts and their functions co-ordinate to either fight or take a flight away from the danger. Normally, this stage of stress can be due to an actual event such as being involved in an accident or either witnessing it. The general indications of this stage are one’s fast breathing with sweating and accelerated heart beat which leads to higher blood pressure and indigestion.

The second stage is resistance; when one fails to get any relief from the first stage of stress he or she will slowly start to feel a reduction in energy levels. The victim begins to feel exasperated and infuriated and impatient with trivial and petty issues. The normal indications of this level are exhaustion, weariness, anxiousness, and being too much forgetful and being prone to a horde of mistakes and unreasonable errors. This is a dangerous stage as one might start smoking and drinking more to come out of their stress. Being very weak, the body’s immune system is compromised and the victim is now a trouble-free target for colds, flu and other diseases that comes his way. The last stage is exhaustion, a situation when stressing persistently spiral beyond the second stage and the victim do not adhere to counteractive and curative measures, hence, the exhaustion stage settles. At this stage, the victim begins not even to have the desire or the drive to do work or live his life. This stage symbolises a breakdown of the victim’s system and his basic physical existence itself. This will sometimes lead to some extreme complications such as heart diseases, blood pressure, ulcers and many more.

It is very important to note that these are not all the stages of stress, what is important in managing this disease is to begin by identifying the sources and this is not as easy as it sounds. Being able to identify your employees’ true sources of stress will act as a panacea in managing it because you will be attacking it from the root. Failure to identify it means failure to manage it because one can not manage what he does not know. If employers can help their employees get to the heart of their stress — rather than focusing only on the resulting health risks — employers will have happier and more productive employees, which is better for everyone. Boosting employee well-being should be a common goal for all employers through investing in great wellness programme.

Employee well-being and engagement are related, but they can’t stand alone, organisational support for well-being and a culture with well-being attributes are critical ingredients or organisational success. When employees are healthy and happy chances of them becoming high performers are high — and that’s good for businesses

 Emmanuel Zvada writes in his own capacity he is a human capital consultant / international recruitment expert and author: For comments inbox to emmanuelzvada@webmail.co.za or call +263771467441.

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