Tools for Reducing Organizational Stress

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Managing organizational stress can be achieved with a few helpful workplace tools. In this lesson, you'll learn more about strategies managers can implement to reduce stress on the job.

Stressed Out

Deion manages a team of 15 at an area hospital. One of Deion's best workers came to his office on Friday and announced that she was resigning from her position. Deion was shocked; how could this happen? He didn't even see it coming. Emma proceeded to tell him that she has often felt like she was ''in over her head'' with her job assignments, didn't feel like she could approach management about it because previous feedback attempts were dismissed, and that difficult relationships with some of her co-workers left her feeling stressed out every evening at home.

It may be too late to save Emma, but Deion's mind immediately goes to what he could have done to prevent a good worker from walking out the door because of organzational stress. Organizational stress as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), is ''the response people may have when presented with work demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope.''

Organizational, or work stress, takes many shapes and forms. It may present as inflexible work hours, an overload of tasks or even difficult relationships with co-workers. While some effects of stress may come from situations over which employers have no control (such as health problems or difficulties at home), work-related stressors can be dealt with appropriately in the workplace. Here are some tools at management's disposal for handling organizational stress.

Reducing Organizational Stress

Experts agree that mitigating organizational stress can have a positive impact not only on employees, but employers as well. Health improves, employees are more content and employers contend less with things like absenteeism, decreased productivity and turnover. Combating this can be achieved with a few workplace changes.

Job Redesign

Many employees face work-related stress when they're in a job that either does not fit their skill set or where responsibilities or assignments are not clearly outlined. Job redesign involves restructuring the duties and tasks an employee has to create an environment that is more positive and less stressful for the employee. Job redesign may mean altering an employee's tasks to better fit his/her skills or abilities or even creating a more flexible work schedule that helps employees maintain a better work-life balance. It may also mean incorporating some autonomy, or control, for the employee, or better outlining responsibilities and clarifying job tasks.

Job redesign is most easily accomplished by keeping an eye on employees' workloads to make sure it is best matched to the resources employees have been given and the capabilities they possess. Something as simple as restructuring work assignments can boost employees' motivation, performance and job satisfaction.

The great thing about job design is that is can be always be changing to ensure the best fit possible (and lowest risks of stress) for your employees.

Goal Setting

We all want to meet the goals set for us in the workplace, but what happens when those goals are so lofty or unattainable that they just stress us out trying to make them happen? This is why goal setting as a focus of reducing organizational stress can be so important. Setting achievable goals that your employees have the skills to accomplish in a reasonable manner is important. So is the idea of setting SMART goals.

SMART goals help employees because they set parameters for achievement. Think about this: SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. When you use this outline for goal setting, you set employees up for success. Goals aren't abstract (employees know exactly what to expect). They're achievable and realistic (employees can obtain them). And, they are timely (they don't drag on forever).

The mere presence of SMART goals can help employees stay engaged and working hard, while achieving those goals can create a feeling of achievement and satisfaction.

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