A 35-years old male respondent suffering from depression was interviewed. The person reported manifestation of such behaviors like nervousness when interacting with his bosses and irritability at the slightest misunderstanding when interacting with his colleagues at the workplace. The employee also reported physical discomfort like frequent headaches. According to the employee, since he started experiencing these symptoms, he has become aimless, passive, and has received several caution letters from his bosses because of poor performance.
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The employee reported that depression had affected his productivity and relationships at work. For instance, the respondent has lost 27 working days during the year as a sick leave and others working on delayed reports and figuring out the source of loopholes in a project he was managing. The respondent reported that his mental and physical state had forced him to take other people’s blames and suffer unfairly because he believed that he had contributed to their poor performance through poor representation and management of the project.
In the project, supervisors and managers are expected to do much work within a short period of time, and some individuals are required to do more work than their colleagues. Because of financial strains and short duration, the project is expected to be completed. Job stress is a negative emotional and physical response resulting from work requirements that are not equivalent to ability, needs, and resources at the disposal of an individual at the workplace. The managers of the project experience unhealthy and undesirable challenges and responsibilities that are unachievable in the long run. In addition, workers experience exhaustion because of high job demands. The project delegates huge workload to employees because individual roles and responsibilities have not been clearly defined, thus resulting to conflicting expectations and confusion.
The project assigns defined tasks to employees on a daily basis. Workers and their supervisors are expected to remain at their sites for a predefined period, and this limits flexibility, rest, and personal initiative that affect positive outcomes of the project. Conditions like the lack of rest breaks, working long hours and fixed routines fail to contribute to the development of the staffs’ skills and innovativeness and deny the staff an opportunity to exercise self control and initiative. A management style that does not involve employees in the decision-making process and has a poor communication between the junior staff and executives is likely to cause stress among the employees. In addition, formulation of policies that do not incorporate the needs of the employees, for instance of those who have families, is likely to strain employees trying to manage and strike a balance between the two institutions.
Social environment and support from colleagues and seniors directly affects an individual’s productivity and ability to deal with stress. An environment that does not allow employee interactions limits the probability of an employee receiving help from other workers. Moreover, unspecified and conflicting job expectations and many responsibilities delegated make an employee feel cornered. Rapid changes in the workplace raise issues of job security. Employees are worried about their future in the organization and this can affect their concentration, dedication, and productivity. An organization that does not provide opportunities to enhance the growth of employees negatively affects their motivation hence resulting to stress. The physical environment in an organization has a direct impact on employee productivity. Exposure to poor and dangerous conditions like crowding and environmental pollution affects concentration.
The interviewee received counseling from his colleague on the possible causes of his physical and emotional pain and was advised to seek help from a professional counselor on how to balance his family life with the demands of the job. The counselor advised the interviewee to start considering his mental state as a problem to necessitate the process of reaching a solution. After discussing his health concerns with the management, the employee was given a positive support through being relieved from the huge workload and providing his project with additional staff. The interviewee suggested that the organization could have created family-work friendly work policies to ease the strain resulting from the two different institutions. In addition, they should establish an employee assistance program for referrals because the nature of the job is demanding and professional assistance on issues related to mental health are necessary.
Research on the effects of stress on an organization’s productivity indicates that its negative effects demand establishment of effective methods of stress management. According to Burke (1993), organizational interventions focus on situations in the organization that cause stress for the members. For instance, an organization can redesign policies and practices to reduce stress on individual members. Intervention requires precise knowledge of the illness and the situation causing the illness so that the management can be sure about necessary changes to be made. However, most organizations’ objective boils down to enhancing productivity regardless of the employees’ health, intervention strategies that may conflict with the main organizational values can be difficult to implement. Individually targeted interventions focus on personal perceptions of stressors and their coping behaviors. Their main purpose is to improve an individual’s ability to cope with stressors. Psychologically oriented interventions help in alleviating stress of the employees (Beehr, 1995). However, psychological measures need to be incorporated with other interventions to remove the stressors permanently.
Beehr, T. (1995). Psychological stress in the workplace. London: Routledge.
Burke, R. (1993). Organizational-level interventions to reduce occupational stressors. Work and stress, 7, 77-87.