According to a recent survey, 62 percent of employees report high levels of stress, leading to extreme fatigue and emotional outbursts. Highly stressed workers are less likely to eat healthfully, exercise, and get enough sleep. From an employer perspective, these problems can lead to productivity losses, higher healthcare costs, and other negative outcomes.
Although there are many factors that can influence the level of stress employee’s encounter, designing a stress management program can help benefit all parties involved. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends the following three-step method for developing a system to help your employees manage their stress.
Step 1: Identify The Problem — Strategies to understand the scope and cause of stress differ according to the size of the organization and available resources. Group discussions with managers, safety committee members, labor representatives, and employees may be enough to identify the issues. Make sure you capture data including employee perceptions of job conditions, and perceived levels of stress, mental and physical health conditions, and job satisfaction. Objective metrics like absenteeism, illness, and turnover rates, and performance problems should also be examined.
Step 2: Design and Implement Intervention — Once the source of stress has been identified, and the scope of the problem understood, the next step is to design and implement an intervention strategy. The formality of the process typically depends on the size of the organization. You may find that some stressors (like excessive workload) exist in some departments but not others. Others require institutional change such as communication strategies or stress management training.
Step 3: Evaluate the Intervention — Evaluation is an essential step in the intervention process. The goal is to determine whether the intervention was successful and whether the necessary actions were taken to defuse the situation at hand. It’s important to perform short and long-term evaluations, as many interventions produce initial effects that may not persist over time. The evaluations are designed to measure employees’ perception of their job conditions, stress-level, mental and physical health, and job satisfaction. If possible, add objective measures such as absenteeism, and healthcare costs to your evaluation(s).
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