Industrial workplaces have many stressors that impact workers. The ongoing pandemic has made managing it more complicated. Employers can help control stress and reduce the impact on a worker. An assessment should be performed to identify the stressors and Spencer-SHE can assist with identifying the strategies best suited for your workplace.
What can employers do to address stress in their workplace?
There are many strategies that can help control stress and reduce its impact to a person or in the workplace. Since the causes of workplace stress vary greatly, so do the strategies to reduce or prevent it.
Where stress in the workplace is caused, for example, by a physical agent, it is best to control it at its source. If the workplace is too loud, control measures to deal with the noise should be implemented wherever possible. If you are experiencing pain from repetitive strain, workstations can be re-designed to reduce repetitive and strenuous movements. More detailed information and suggestions are located in the many other documents in OSH Answers (such as noise, ergonomics, or violence and harassment in the workplace, etc.) or by asking the Inquiries Service.
Job design is also an important factor. Good job design accommodates an employee’s mental and physical abilities. In general, the following job design guidelines will help minimize or control workplace stress:
- The job should be reasonably demanding (but not based on “sheer endurance”) and provide the employee with at least a minimum of variety in job tasks.
- The employee should be able to learn on the job and be allowed to continue to learn as their career progresses.
- The job should comprise some area of decision-making that the individual can call his or her own.
- There should be some degree of social support and recognition in the workplace.
- The employee should feel that the job leads to some sort of desirable future.
Employers should assess the workplace for the risk of stress. Look for:
- Pressures at work which could cause high and/or long-lasting levels of stress.
- Employees who may be harmed by these pressures.
Determine what can be done to prevent the pressures from becoming negative stressors.
Employers can address stress in many ways.
- Treat all employees in a fair and respectful manner.
- Take stress seriously and be understanding to staff under too much pressure.
- Be aware of the signs and symptoms that a person may be having trouble coping with stress.
- Involve employees in decision-making and allow for their input directly or through committees, etc.
- Encourage managers to have an understanding attitude.
- Be proactive by looking for signs of stress among their staff.
- Provide workplace health and wellness programs that target the true source of the stress. The source of stress at work can be from any number of causes – safety, ergonomics, job demands, etc. Survey the employees and ask them to help identify the root cause(s).
- Incorporate stress prevention or positive mental health promotion in policies or your corporate mission statement.
- Make sure staff has the training, skills, and resources they need to be successful in their positions.
- Design jobs to allow for a balanced workload. Allow employees to have control over the tasks they do as much as possible.
- Value and recognize individuals’ results and skills.
- Provide support.
- Be clear about job expectations.
- Make sure job demands are reasonable by providing manageable deadlines, hours of work, and clear duties as well as work that is interesting and varied.
- Provide access to Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) for those who wish to attend.
- Do not tolerate bullying or harassment in any form.
- Do not ignore signs that employees are under pressure or feeling stressed.
- Do not forget that elements of the workplace itself can be a cause of stress. Stress management training and counseling services can be helpful to individuals, but do not forget to look for the root cause of the stress and to address these causes as quickly as possible.
The team at Spencer-SHE will guide your organization through the process of managing stress in your workplace. Our team of experts has over 50 years of experience assisting clients with program development, implementation, regulation compliance and agency correspondence.
Contact us to set up a consultation!