Implementing Strategies to Reduce Stress and Anxiety in the Workplace

1.0 Introduction:

The implementation ratio of stress intervention strategies is rapidly increasing across the organisational hierarchy across the international platform. The stress management strategy can be conducted in three different platforms such as individual, the organisation or the organisational interface. However, the statement of Toivanen et al. (2006) indicates that the majority of the business organisations is focusing on individual stress management, rather than developing an organisational interface. The organisational interface becomes too complex to manage each individual due to which, most of the global organisations are implementing individual stress management strategies.

2.0 Stress management strategy followed by the contemporary business organisations:

2.1 Individual level stress intervention:

‘Employee Assistance Program’ (EAP), ‘Changing individual Work Environment’, ‘Goal Setting and Time Management’ programs are mostly followed by the modern day business organisations, as a stress management strategy. Considering the fact, Tiernan et al. (2012) stated that all these programmes mentioned above, are the ‘Cognitive Behavioural Interventions’. Organisations like IBM, Accenture, JW Marriott, etc. have focused on cognitive behavioural interventions when anxiety, irritability, depressions are evaluated in the workplace.

Goal setting and time management policy have been mostly followed by the global service sector industry. Organisations like, Mc Donald’s, KFC, etc. have focused much more on the goal setting and time management strategy to engage the workforce in a formal structure. It has helped those organisations to reduce the workload significantly. On the other hand, IBM’s EAP program has also been successful in managing employee stress, since last few decades. Furthermore, past researches of Skargren and Oberg (2009) indicate that ‘Multimodal Interventions’ are also proven as one of the most effective ways of reducing the workforce stress. An example of Tesco can be considered in this scenario. Tesco, being the largest retailer in the UK has become successful in reducing employee stress and anxiety, by identifying depressive symptoms and taking necessary actions against the same. ‘Multimodal Interventions’ employed by Tesco has helped in managing the workforce stress and anxiety scenario, in a broader way. Also, organisations like IBM, Accenture etc. has reduced work stress scenario broadly, by changing employee’s work environment. Supporting to this fact, Schweiger and Denisi (2010) also mentioned that less stressful job is being provided to the employee, to reduce the anxiety and the stress factors. Eventually, employee regains motivation and becomes ready to take further challenges.

2.2 Stress intervention on the individual-organisation interface level:

Stress prevention on the individual-organisation interface level is conducted by ‘Strengthening Social Support’ at the workplace. This scenario is mostly followed in the retail industry, where a complete collaboration between employee and employer becomes significant in managing the workplace stress (Shulman and Jones, 2006). Semmer (2009) stated that the intervention is focused on strengthening the relationship between the firm and the individual. Organisations like Walmart, Tesco, and Harrods etc. have focused more on the individual-organisation interface level.  All these organisations form a set of common groups, who meet to solve issues and support each other, in order to improve the personal skills.

A case study on Tesco has been conducted by the past scholars, which has evaluated that this stress management strategy prioritises mostly on sharing issues, providing self assurance and supporting each member to attain a successful coping strategy and replying with empathy. Once upon a time, Tesco has suffered a lot from employee anxiety and stress issue. However, implementation of the present strategy has helped Tesco in reducing the workforce stress and the same has successfully increased the overall workforce motivation of its manufacturing unit.

2.3 Organisational stress interventions:

This type of stress management is mainly based on the ‘Changing Organisational Characteristics’, ‘Changing Role Characteristics’ and ‘Changing Task Characteristics’. All these initiatives have been directed to change the organisational structure, total operational process alteration, change management in the reward and recognition system etc.  Schaubroeck et al. (2011) also studied that increased participation in the decision making process, reducing role conflict, etc. have been considered by the organisations like IBM, Zara etc. in order to reduce the stress generated from the organisation. However, Matheny et al. (2006) also viewed that this initiative is not common to majority organisations, as it employs higher complexity in the overall procedure.

An example of the changing task characteristics can also be found in McDonald’s. McDonald’s has engaged a ‘Participative Action Research (PAR)’ model where as reorganisation of employee has been made by employing a change agent and other organisational members. Eventually, McDonald’s has experienced lower absenteeism and lower anxiety across the workforce. Not only this, the quarterly sales volume had also been increased. The overall outcome of the process directed a healthy workforce relationship with the employer and the productivity has also been increased.

3.0 Conceptual framework:

 

 conceptual_framework_reduce_stress_in_workplace_hr_research_proposal

 

Figure 1: Conceptual Framework

(Source: Created by author)

 

 

References:

Matheny, K.B., Brack, G.L., McCarthy, C.J. and Penick, J.M. (2006) “The effectiveness of cognitively-based approaches in treating stress-related symptoms”, Psychotherapy, 33, pp. 305-320

Schaubroeck, J., Ganster, D.C., Sime, W.E. and Ditman, D. (2011) “A field experiment testing supervisory role clarification”, Personnel Psychology, 46, pp. 1-25

Schweiger, D.M. and Denisi, A.S. (2010) “Communication with employees following a merger: A longitudinal field experiment”, Academy of Management Journal, 34, pp. 110-135

Semmer, N. K. (2009) Job stress interventions and organization of work In J.C. Quick & L.E. Tetrick Handbook of occupational health psychology Washington: American Psychological Association

Shulman, K.R. and Jones, G.E. (2006) “The effectiveness of massage therapy intervention on reducing anxiety in the workplace”, Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 32, pp. 160-173

Skargren, E. and Oberg, B. (2009) “Effects of an exercise programme on organizational/psychosocial and physical work conditions, and psychosomatic symptoms”, Scandinavian Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, 31, pp. 109-115

Tiernan, S.D., Flood, P.C., Murphy, E.P. and Carroll, S.J. (2012) “Employee reactions to flattening organizational structures”, European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 11, pp. 47-67

Toivanen, H., Helin, P., Hanninen, O. (2006) “Impact of regular relaxation training and psychosocial working factors on neck-shoulder tension and absenteeism in hospital cleaners”, Journal of Occupational Medicine, 35, pp. 1123-1130

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