feasibility of providing stress management training to employees

Introduction Employees’ stress is an expected phenomenon in any workplace. As some research will indicate, a certain level of stress depending on the kind of work is productive as it enhances performance and keeps 2 the employees on toes(Flaxman & Bond, 2010). However, too much of work stress is counterproductive and often lead to employees’ unhealthy conditions, burnout and loss of productivity. The overall cost of workplace stress is a major concern for businesses today. Recent research has shown that workplace stress is directly related to the level of absenteeism in the workplace, poor performance, and magnitude of workplace errors. In addition, stress leads to mental and physical health issues which according to the recent labor organization research costs companies over $350 billion per year (Majidi, Jafari, & Hosseini, 2012). The implication of stress is, therefore, a major concern and actions must be taken. Workplace stress management training is the most recently introduced strategy to management workplace success. However, the feasibility of the strategy still needs to be explored. This research paper will seek to dig deeper into the strategy and explore its feasibility from different perspectives. The paper is guided by the thesis that stress management training is the single best strategy to manage employee’s stress in the workplace and also facilitate better work-life balance. Sources of Workplace Stress Stress in any workplace results from bot on-job and off-job factors. The main on-job factors leading to stressful events include long working hours, increased workload, employment or job uncertainty, and inadequate job satisfaction among others. These are sometimes considered factors that the organization can do something about and are within its mandate to rectify. However, sometimes the management is unable to satisfy all the needs of individual employees and damage is already done before the organization can take adverse reactions to the situation (Elliott & Maples, 1991). The off-job factors leading to workplace stress include the ineffective work-life balance, pressure from a downturn economy, life-related losses leading to traumatic stress and interpersonal conflicts within the employee’s life. These are however factors that the organization may have very little to do with. The implication of this is that the organization will neither have the mandate to solve them nor the responsibility towards their occurrence and progression. However, they are as damaging as the on-job stresses and negatively affect performance within the workplace. This means that the organization, despite having no mandate to deal with these stresses, must ensure that there is no interference of business. According to recent studies, failure to address stressors where possible lead to the unimaginable cost of ill health and poor work performance. These negatively affect the business of the organization (Shuttleworth, 2004). Stress Management Training A synergized approach towards addressing on-job changes and individual employees stress management strategies have worked to reverse the negative effects of workplace stress. Stress management training is a component of the company-wide wellness program that will engage all workers 3 in a multiple approaches to stress (Buys, Matthews, & Randall, 2010). It must, however, be customized to the organizational structure and the major goals of the organization. Stress management training programs have three mandatory phases. These are the diagnostic phase, the evaluation or analysis phase, and the intervention phase. During the diagnostic phase, employees are guided through the major indicators of stress in the workplace from their performance and feelings towards the workplace (Majidi et al., 2012). Most of the training programs besides having interactive diagnostic tests also have workplace stress checklist that helps identify the level of stress. The evaluation and analysis phase entails deeper exploration into the stressors causing the situation. The employees in the training program are guided on how to identify stressors and point them out to the management or even to confidants and counselors within the workplace. Thirdly, the intervention phase helps the employees to understand how to manage stress at the individual level as part of the primary intervention and also when to seek assistance and advanced interventions. The employees are also guided through planning for the interventions and how to reduce stressors especially those unrelated to the job (Ali, Raheem, Nawaz, & Imamuddin, 2014). The Impact of Workplace Stress Management Training Stress management training helps solve several important problems in any organization. First, through stress management training, employees become more responsible and able to manage themselves. This emanates from the self-management training that comes as a component of the program. Secondly, employees are imparted with organizational skills. They are better able to organize themselves and improve their work-life balance. This improves their performance and job satisfaction (Shuttleworth, 2004). Thirdly, stress management training reduced interpersonal conflicts within an organization. This is because the employees are trained on how to handle and relate to one another within the workplace. Fourthly, it is through the training program that employees can provide feedback to the organization on the on-job issues that might be increasing their stress levels and thus help the organization make the necessary changes. This means that through the training, employees can take part in changing their work conditions and the environment (Oluwakemi Ayodeji, Michael, Tunde, & Mariam, 2011). Is Stress Management Training a Feasible Program? The feasibility of the stress management training program can be studied from the perspectives of cost, impact, and sustainability. Regarding cost, the effective training program is costly to any single organization. Reports indicate that many of the available stress management training programs for employees are likely to cost organizations over $150 billion annually (Buys et al., 2010). This is an amount of money that can be used in other organizational projects. However, the cost of rectifying the damage 4 caused by workplace stresses including the loss of employees, poor performance and ineffective work-life balance by far exceeds this cost. With the expected impact of the training, the programs are by far economically feasible (Flaxman & Bond, 2010). From the perspective of impact, research has shown that organizations that conduct regular employees’ stress management training are less likely to have adverse employee turnover and will experience more stable and productive employees performance for a long time. This translates directly to the ability of the organization to reach greater economic and business heights with better motivated and more satisfied employees. Stress management also reduces the workplace accidents and injuries, improve interpersonal relationships and makes business better. These impacts make the training feasible based on the concept of return on investment (Buys et al., 2010). As already observed from the structure of the basic stress management training program, training programs do not have to be extremely complicated. This simple structure enables the program to be implemented together with other organizational programs such as human resource development. This ensures that the organization does not have to plan for more time, energy and cost in the implementation of stress management training. Incorporation into the training and development curriculum of the organization helps in making the stress management training sustainable in the long run. This enhances its feasibility in any organization regardless of the size of the organization (Shuttleworth, 2004). Conclusion Stress management is necessary for any organization. Employees must be trained on how to deal with stressors and manage their stress regardless of the causes. This is because even external stressors affect the internal organization processes and performance. Employees’ stress management training is quite feasible based on the positive impact of the program (Majidi et al., 2012). Further, the training program is considerably cheaper than dealing with the damage that stress has on organizational performance and profitability. In addition to this, there is a return on investment from the positive impact of training and the program is quite sustainable as it can be incorporated into the organizational practices. For the health of employees and the organization, therefore, employers should provide opportunities for stress management training within their organizations. 5 SUMMARY Stress is a major undoing to the organizational efforts to enhance productivity and performance. Even when all other factors have been catered for, employees’ stress often lead to poor performance and inability to optimally perform. Workplace stress has both direct and indirect cost to an organization. Stress in the workplace can result from work-related or non-related issues. For the work related issues, the organization is responsible for solutions. For the others, the individual employee has to take action and solve. However, the effect of stress on the organization does not matter the cause of the stress. Both personal and work related problems leading to stress affect the organization in the same way. Stress management training is very important in organizations. It helps improve performance, increase physical and mental health and promote positive interactions. Although the training programs are costly, the overall cost is incomparable to the financial and economic cost of poor health and performance. Further, training on stress management is has a positive return on investment and is sustainable. This is based on the ability of linking stress management training to other training programs in the organization and hence avoiding separate cost of the program.

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