What will I learn from completing this assignment?
Work-Related Stress and Burn Out
The individual assignment is designed to develop your individual research, analytical, referencing and writing skills in preparation for year 3 of your degree programme. The learning objectives and outcomes of the assignment are:
- Researches and analyses information relevant to the topic
- Develops reasoned and coherent arguments
- Is fully and accurately referenced
- Is written and presented in an acceptable academic format
You must respond to the following (there are no choices):
You work in the Human Resources Department for a large privately held organization in the UK called The Schwartz Group. In the newspapers, you have recently found the following information about work-related stress and burnout. The latest estimates from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) show that the total number of cases of stress in 2011/12 was 428,000 (40%) out of a total of 1,073,000 for all work-related illnesses and the estimated cases of work-related stress, both total and new cases, have remained broadly flat over the past decade. The main work activities attributed by respondents as causing their work-related stress, or making it worse, were work pressure, lack of managerial support and work-related violence and bullying.
Stress and burnout are not topics that have been paid much attention to at The Schwartz Group, however, after conducting a more in-depth research on the internet you realise that the changing legal and policy context clearly places growing responsibility upon employers to contribute to the prevention and management of work-related stress. You therefore feel that it is time to raise awareness of work-related stress and its implications, and the next Board Meeting would give you an excellent opportunity to inform top management more fully about these topics.
Present a case to management for inviting a representative from HR to the Board of Directors meeting. In your report, indicate why management should be concerned about stress and burnout at work and how HR can contribute towards reducing employees’ stressors at work.
Health and Safety Executive (http://www.hse.gov/statistics/index/htm)
What do I need to include in terms of research in this assignment?
Your report must include the findings of the following three articles:
Kelliher, C., & Anderson, D. (2010). Doing more with less? Flexible working practices and the intensification of work. Human Relations, 63(1), 83-106
Losyk, B. (2006). Getting a grip on stress. What HR managers must do to prevent burnout and turnover. Employment Relations Today, 33(1), 9-17
Parasuraman, S. & Alutto, J.A. (1984). Sources and Outcomes of Stress in Organizational Settings: Toward the Development of a Structural Model. Academy of Management Journal, 27(2), 330-350
In addition, you must include 1 academic article. You should choose an article that not only relates to the topic, but provides you with additional information above what you have learned from the 3 required articles. This is an opportunity to differentiate your paper as excellent. That being said, ensure that you incorporate all four articles into your assignment.
You may include more articles or books, including the textbook, and incorporate them into your assignment. Only include other sources if you believe it will enhance the quality of your paper. Remember that all ideas that you get from external sources must be cited.
Why management should be concerned about stress and burnout at work and how HR can contribute towards reducing employees’ stressors at work.
Organization development and advances in technology in the business world today require employees to develop competencies so that they can cope with changes at the workplace. Such changes have also increased work-related stress which has a negative impact on the performance and health of employees. This report takes a look at why The Schwartz Group should be concerned about stress and burnout at work, it identifies the main causes of stress and how stress affects employee performance in this organization. Its lays emphasis on the benefits of having stress management strategy at work and the role played management in reducing stress.
A survey conducted in 2003 by the Merlin Company, a Connecticut-based workplace communications firm found that employee stress levels from the workplace continue to rise. The survey also stated that employees had observed an increase in stress-related illnesses and emotional problems as well as lower morale compared with the previous year (Losyk, 2006, p. 9). Just recently the Labour Force Survey (LSF) showed that the total number of stress cases accounted for 40% of all work-related illnesses in 2011/2012. Most respondents attributed work-related stress to work pressure, lack of managerial support and work-related violence and bullying.
It is clear that work-related stress cannot be overlooked when evaluating the overall performance of an organization. This has however been the case in the past. According to Losyk (2006) stress has far-reaching consequences in organizations which include, fear, anxiety, anger, depression, and burnout among employees. It generally leads to a poor working environment characterized by less teamwork, low morale, increased health costs and workers’ compensation claims, lawsuits lateness and absenteeism, theft and sabotage (Losyk, 2006, p. 9). Management has to appreciate the impact stress in the organization and assume its role in countering its effects. To achieve this there must be a clear understanding of the causes of work related stress.
Stress in organizations originates from the behavior setting, tasks, and roles, as well as characteristics of the “person system” (McGrath, 1976 in Parasuraman & Alluto, 1984). Work-related stress (job stressors) can be therefore be broadly categorized as contextual, role related or personal.
The contextual point of view suggests that the behavioral setting or department of an organization in which an individual carries out their duties has a considerable effect on their perception of work-related stress. Different employees work in different departments and are therefore exposed to different working conditions that could contribute to stress. Work shifts that fall under the contextual category also have a bearing on work-related stress. There is evidence that flexible workers record higher levels of job satisfaction and organizational commitment than their nonflexible counterparts (Kelliher & Anderson, 2010). Flexible working involves working schedules that are convenient for the employee and where he or she is given the discretion to set their own schedule. It includes reduced hours, nonstandard hours, various forms of remote working and compressed working time (Kelliher & Anderson, 2010). This implies that a favorable environment will facilitate efficiency of workers. Workers who prefer to work from home, for example, perform better at home than at the office, this could be as result of pressure associated with the office. Where there is pressure at the workplace there is bound to be stress.
The second category of work-related stress is role-related, various aspects of organizational roles could influence individuals’ work experiences and reactions (Parasuraman & Alluto, 1984). The organizational level, supportive leadership practices, and task characteristics fall under this category. Employees at different organizational levels have different responsibilities and reporting relationships to employees in other levels. Employees at the clerical and operational level carry out daily routine tasks in the organization and report directly to their supervisors, supervisors, in turn, report the middle management which finally reports to the senior management. Employees at different levels are faced with different circumstances that determine the stress they are exposed to.
The output of junior employees is greatly influenced by their immediate seniors because they take orders from them and report directly to them. If seniors are supportive of their juniors there is usually a good working relationship between them, such juniors will generally be motivated and committed to the organization. Lack of managerial support induces pressure which is accompanied by stress. Different employees also have different roles in the organization. The overall performance of an organization is influenced majorly by the senior management and as such they play a vital role in making strategic decisions and setting long-term goals. Middle-level managers on the other hand only make nonstrategic decisions and set short term goals. Supervisors make routine decisions and oversee the activities of operational employees. These varied roles expose them to different work-related stress circumstances.
Finally, work-related stress is also affected by personal traits which are determined by each particular individual’s locus of control, level anxiety, and job involvement. Personal traits could also include demographic factors such as age, sex, and education level. Individual traits that are shaped by past experiences have an effect one’s vulnerability to stress. Emotional instability is a major cause of stress in this category.
In light the detrimental effects of work related stress, the Schwartz Group should come up with a stress management strategy to avoid burnout and employee turnover. The organization should put in place various stress reduction programs to improve the well being of its employees by enabling them to live healthier lifestyles. These programs will also go along way in improving group dynamics by facilitating a good working relationship among employees. These programs include, learning opportunities, reduced working hours, redesigning job descriptions and rotation and motivation programs.
Employees should be given learning opportunities to advance their technical competence. This will enable them to carry out their duties more efficiently and with ease hence reducing stress that results from the strain and amount of effort they have to put into their work. Apart from professional training the organization should also organize for training on stress management, health and wellness education, time management and finance management and provide marriage counseling.
The organization should consider revising its business processes to reduce the number of working hours and make them more flexible and convenient for the employees. Tasks that do not necessarily require employees to be present at the office should have an option of being done remotely. This will facilitate autonomy of employees and in most cases enhance their efficiency. The number of working hours can be reduced by matching the labour demand and supply more closely which results in intensification of work.
Vague job descriptions should be rewritten to make them more specific to avoid work overload to some employees which is a major cause of stress. Employee involvement in the rewriting process will enhance acceptability of the new descriptions. Convenient working shifts should also be introduced.
Lack of motivation is one of the main causes of job stress and burnout. Employees who are disinterested and derive no satisfaction whatsoever from their work are more likely to find their work stressful. The organization should strive to maintain a motivated workforce by recognizing employee efforts and carrying out performance appraisal for instance offering better payment packages and retirement benefits.
The management of The Schwartz Group should appreciate of the
impact of work related stress on employee performance. The root cause of stress
should be determined by conducting a stress audit and a needs analysis for the organization.
After these causes are determined appropriate measures should be put in place
to counter them. The causes which mainly include work pressure and lack of
organizational support can be addressed by motivation, reduced working hours,
revising job descriptions and offering learning opportunities. When stress is
eliminated, the work force will be motivated and employee turnover and burnout
will be reduced.
Chiara, P., Dina, G., Simbula, S., & Marco, D. (2010). Can an opportunity to learn at work reduce stress?: A revisitation of the job demand-control model. Journal of Workplace Learning , 22(3), 166-179. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/235287171_Can_an_opportunity_to_learn_at_work_reduce_stress_A_revisitation_of_the_job_demand-control_model
George, H., & Dimitrios, B. (2010). The effect of stress and satisfaction on productivity . International Journal of Productivityand Performance Management, 59(5), 415-431. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/235308682_The_effect_of_stress_and_satisfaction_on_productivity
Kelliher, C., & Anderson, D. (2010). Doing more with less? Flexible working practices and the intensification of work. Human Relations , 63(1), 83-106. http://eprints.lincoln.ac.uk/29774/1/Human%20Relations%20Flexible_working_practices.pdf
Losyk, B. (2006). Getting a grip on stress. What HR managers should do to prevent burn out turnover. Employment Relations Today , 33(1) 9-17. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ert.20093
Parasuraman, S. & Alluto, J.A. (1984). Sources and outcomes of stress in organisational settings: Toward the development of a structural model. Academy of Management Journal , 27(2), 330-350. https://journals.aom.org/doi/abs/10.5465/255928