Employee Stress - Let's fight it out!



Authors: Subhadra. K, Niharika Atchyutuni
Faculty Associate, Faculty Associate
ICMR (IBS Center for Management Research).

Stress management has become a very critical aspect of human resource management of late. But do we take employee stress as seriously as it needs to be?.

Every year in Japan around 30,000 deaths occur because of Karoshi (over work). In a study conducted by Delhi based NGO - Saarthak in 30 Indian companies, it was found that 50% of the employees suffered from stress related problems. Further, in the studies conducted in the US and UK, it was found that more than 60% of employees complain to be stressed out in their jobs.

Stress has been identified as one of the most common work-related perils of modern times. Previously it was considered to be limited to the developed countries, but with the turn of the century, it emerged as a global syndrome. Many organizations have also realized the cause and impact of employee stress and have initiated steps to combat work-place stress. Some organizations have gone beyond the work place and have been trying out innovative methods of handling employee stress caused by extra-organizational factors too.

But, what is stress?

Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary defined stress as "the result produced when a structure, system or organism is acted upon by forces that disrupt equilibrium or produce strain". Generally, stress is said to be human body's reaction to various organizational and social factors called as - Stressors. The fast-approaching project delivery deadline can be a stressor. The fact that you have to renew your car insurance within the next two days, but have no time for it, can be a stressor. Even a seemingly simple reason like your inability to help your child prepare for an admission test at a prestigious school can be a stressor. There can be scores of stressors surrounding you and you might not even be aware of their impact on your well-being. Stress is not always harmful. Sometimes, it can in fact prove to be productive. For example, the fast approaching project delivery deadline might succeed in bringing out your best performance. However, when the stress becomes unmanageable, it starts having a negative impact on the individual. Employers should know where to draw the line to bring out the best and not the worst out of their employees.

Reasons for stress can either be organizational (occupational) or extra-organizational (personal). The first category refers to work-related and work-place related factors. The second category refers to personal issues like the ill-health of a family member. The basic fact is that whatever might be the reason, stress can impact an individual's personal as well as professional life. Let's look at what work-place stress is all about.

Next >>