Getting stress tough: What network managers can do to help employees
By Linda Christie, M.A.
"Problems at work are more strongly associated with health complaints than are any other life stressor-more so than even financial or family problems." -- St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services agency responsible for
conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of
work-related illnesses and injury, defines job stress as: "The harmful
physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of
the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the
Network job conditions that can lead to stress are:
- Task design: heavy workload, infrequent rest breaks, long hours, shift work, and routine tasks that do not utilize the employee's skills and provide little sense of control.
- Management style: lack of participation by workers in decision-making, poor communication, lack of family-friendly policies.
- Work roles: conflicting or uncertain job expectations, too much responsibility, too many hats to wear.
- Career concerns: job insecurity; lack of opportunity for growth, advancement or promotion; and rapid changes for which workers are
- Environmental conditions: unpleasant or dangerous physical conditions such as crowding, noise, air pollution, or ergonomic problems.
In addition to identifying and correcting these stress-producers,
Garman, Director of the Center for Health Care Entrepreneurship
at Rush University in Chicago, IL, says managers need to set up
mechanisms for people to discuss their stress levels. "Make the time to
proactively ask people how they are doing and how their stress levels
are, especially when someone leaves or a deadline requires everyone to
"Companies can also encourage typically sedentary network
professionals to reduce their stress by getting physical exercise,"
Garman added. "Provide the time and facilities: a walking path, fitness
center, or group discounts for health club memberships."
The process for stress prevention requires building an awareness about
job stress among the staff, incorporating employee input and
involvement to increase their control over the situation, securing
management commitment and support for actively addressing stress-
causing situations and policies, and providing employees with the
resources and support they need to do their jobs.
"Stress at Work," a NIOSH booklet
An Rx for reducing employee stress
"How to Master Stress"
"Stress" WebMD Health
This was first published in February 2001
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