SUCCESS LIFE:Roseline Maideyi & Jonah Nyoni
THERE has never been a time when occupational safety and health mattered like this time when the whole world is battling with COVID-19. On the other hand, organisations continue to battle for growth, relevance and survival in a competitive market with rapid innovation, speed, agility and transformation. Post-2008, the adoption of the multi-currency system stabilised the economy, created an ease of doing business and thus, many organisations flourished. New businesses emerged, multinational companies were attracted to our then US dollar market, there was an increase in foreign investment and thus, an overall competitiveness in the marketplace.
In the hospitality sector, new hotels emerged while fast food outlets mushroomed. According to Ncube F, Sibanda P & Maunganidze L (2013), amidst such developments, organisations explore innovative strategies to cement their competitive advantage. Common strategies include sprucing up the quality of goods and services, introducing customer experience techniques, marketing and branding. We will explore a unique inward-outworking approach that most organisations are reluctant to employ, yet it achieves enormous results that can empower an organisation above its competitors. Occupational safety and health is a strategic managerial approach that enables employees to excel in tasks and has a ripple effect that causes the organisation to excel in the business environment.
Empowered to perform
Occupational safety and health addresses issues that deal with the welfare of people in the workplace to promote a healthy working environment. In 2014, the National Social Security Authority noted that within a five-year period, Zimbabwe incurred a cumulative figure of 20 641 serious injuries and 401 deaths through occupational accidents. Workplaces in their different nature have physical, mechanical, biological, chemical, biological or ergonomic hazards that threaten the health of employees. That becomes more pronounced in these COVID-19 times. An organisation that promotes the safety and health of its employees is highly likely to attain high performance. The most appalling occupational hazard common to the Zimbabwean workplace is occupational stress.
A tale of stress-free productivity
Work-related stress is a common hazard faced by employees across various industries. It causes underperformance by killing motivation, determination and zeal. This type of hazard is often overlooked but if not well managed, it affects the quality of work produced by employees and those particular tasks affect the overall performance of the organisation they work for (Maslach, C 2003). Randomly sampled employees gave interesting insights into the issue. Here are their experiences of work-related stress:
“My boss makes my life difficult; he deprives me of the resources necessary to carry out tasks but when I fail to complete a task or to do it well, he shouts and makes my life a living hell.
“Rejection of salary increments in such a harsh economy yet employees are expected to be at work from 8am-5pm is so stressful. They delay salaries as if landlords delay knocking at doors.
“I was hired as a consultant, but none of my ideas are taken into consideration. It makes me feel less relevant to the organisation.
“I cannot have a mind of my own where I can decide how to perform my duties, my boss always wants things done her way, making me operate like a brainless robot.”
Organisations with stressed employees on board are unlikely to meet their performance objectives, simply because unhappy employees hardly meet their key performance indicators (KPIs). Business leaders ought to take heed that the success of every business hinges on the employees who perform the daily tasks of the business. Customer care, customer experience, crisis management and increased productivity are all activities coordinated by employees.
In essence, employees are very crucial for the growth and survival of any business. The organisation may invest in advertising and branding, but when customers or stakeholders obtain dismal service from stressed and demotivated employees in the workplace, customer retention will be unlikely. Thus, it should be within the interest of the organisation to invest in strategies to minimize work-related stress.
Losing stress and bulking performance
Maintaining and promoting employee wellbeing in the workplace activates motivation increases performance, promotes innovation and fosters a culture of excellence. Workers need to feel great because they are in a safe space that encourages safety and health. The most efficient method of mitigating work-related stress is creating flexible proactive organisational communication systems that enable free and open communication on issues that cause burnout or stress on employees. These issues may vary from organisation to organisation, yet some may be common.
This article does not recommend any particular strategy for mitigating work-related stress, but suggests a simple and easy antidote. Top management should exercise care, high priority and be proactive in solving the issues that stress employees. Minimising stress at work is often ignored by top management, but the side effects of work-related stress will definitely incur costs in the organisation.