The findings of this research have shown that indeed stress is a problem at International Alert. The effect of stress on workers has affected their work performance, there is increased error and wastage occurrence, and there has been a reduction in output and productivity. Employees’ attitude and behaviour have indicated a loss of motivation and longer hours with diminished returns. Relationships are plagued with tension and conflict between colleagues, which has lead to an increase in disciplinary problems within the organisation.
It is clear from the findings of the survey that stress in the workplace requires management. The main sources of stress at International Alert appears to be as follows: 1. the lack of clarity in terms of organisational structure and the accompanying policies and procedures, vision and mission. 2. unrealistic work volumes taken on by International Alert and placed on individuals. 3. lack of team spirit, co-operation and integration. 4. poor communication channels 5. management: a number of issues were identified such as lack of support, trust and poor decision making.
CHAPTER SIX 6. RECOMMENDATIONS Based on the findings from the research of the contributory factors to stress at International Alert identified by staff, the following are recommended on Stress Prevention and Management Interventions in the workplace. They are broken down into three broad groups: Primary interventions, which should include an attempt to eliminate the sources of stress indicated by staff from the survey, by focusing on changing the physical or socio-political environment to match individual staff needs.
For example: 1. Improving the communication channels between staff and their managers. Allowing and encouraging employee involvement and participation in decision making when a change is to be implemented can achieve this. This would enable staff to contribute their ideas. 2. Encouraging staff and managers to participate in regular meetings where people can get to meet, make suggestions and also feedback information to their team members.
Employers and employee should all be involved in the development and implementation of the intervention and must be willing to communicate, analyse and revise their plans and to learn from interventions that do not produce expected results. 3. Redesigning jobs. An effective job design should have its tasks clearly defined and meaningful, and the assignment of tasks should reflect the skills and experience of the staff. There should also be room for feedback on task performance and opportunities for the development of employees’ skills.
Managers should always ensure that the workload is in line with the employees’ capabilities and resources. 4. Integrated roles and responsibilities, based on the findings of this research, it is suggested that International Alert have a clear policies and practices, defined role and responsibilities, and effective communication between all groups involved will provide a win-win situation for all parties. 5. Improving the Work Environment. From the research, staff indicated their working environment was a contributory factor to their stress.
The physical features of the work environment are key factors in reducing occupational stress. Management should review the working conditions at their workplace. Management should strive to provide their employees with the necessary working equipments, for example, training, to enable them perform better on their job. Measures should then be taken to provide and maintain appropriate temperature and ventilation in the workplace, reducing the level of noise and maintaining good lighting in all areas.
The workspace provided should be comfortable and sufficient. Workstation design should conform to ergonomic criteria. Rest areas should be provided for staff, especially those in highly stressful jobs. Work schedules that are compatible with demands and responsibilities outside the job should also be established. 6. Providing a work life balance for staff. There should be a satisfactory balance between their paid work and the remainder of their lives, as individuals, carers and members of the community.
A proper balance would help reduce stressful occurrences. This can be achieved by providing flexibility over work hours to help them balance home life. Secondary interventions, this basically means helping staff to manage stress without trying to eliminate or modify the workplace stressors. For example: 1. Central to this is the recognition that individual health and organisational health is interdependent, and the responsibility for stress prevention and management lies with every member in the organisation.
By introducing a comprehensive stress awareness and prevention programmes for both staff and managers would help address stressful issues. This would assist employees in identifying stress symptoms and help them acquire coping skills. It would also help line managers to be able to spot and recognise stress related symptoms at the early stages, which is very critical. Examples are healthy lifestyle programmes, stress coaching, social support groups and training and education programmes. 2. Providing support literature about stress, health and well being for every members of staff.
Tertiary interventions would be aimed to rehabilitate staff that have been unable to cope by offering them support like counselling, access to confidential advice, health and fitness promotion campaigns and initiatives. Individuals experiencing stress should be trained to build defence mechanisms and develop a coping style, such techniques as progressive relaxation, yoga, meditation, deep breathing, cognitive strategies should be emphasised in the reduction and prevention of negative effects of stress.
Two recent studies have demonstrated that counselling and psychotherapy is of substantial benefit to distressed employees. Allison et al (1989) evaluated the effects of a workplace counselling service for Post Office workers. The result obtained indicated that mean levels of depression and anxiety were significantly reduced after counselling. Overall, three key actions that can be recommended. First, the formulation and publication of a policy on stress at work, which will both, legitimise concern and place it firmly within the domain of Health and Safety at work and which will outline good practice.
Second, the continued support of research, especially regular and detailed organisational stress audits, sampling different jobs, departments and sections of the workforce (e. g. women versus men, ethnic minorities, new recruits, etc. ) psychometric instruments (e. g. Occupational Stress- Indicators or OSI) which are now available to carry out this task and more will be available in the near future.
The OSI (Cooper et al. , 1988b) or other similar instruments provide an effective means whereby companies can regularly audit and monitor organisational health, and be proactive in stress reduction. In addition, such audits can be used to provide a baseline measure, whereby stress reduction techniques can be evaluated. The use of audits could be extended to ascertain employee attitudes and perceived needs for stress management training or counselling to provide valuable information regarding the likely ‘take up’ rates of such programmes before any expenditure is incurred.
Third, the education and training of key ‘agents’ for the promotion of legitimate concern and the application of good practice in meeting that concern as a health and safety issue. In conclusion, building general awareness about workplace stress is the first step in prevention. Securing top management commitment and support for the program will only lend to more positive results. Reduction in workplace stress is a worthwhile time investment for managers and supervisors, as it will only stand to improve productivity, morale, and overall organisational climate.