Work Stress!

by Michael McGrath

Sometimes the workplace feels like a battle zone. With much emphasis placed on the importance of the company goals, markets and business plan much of the workforce feel an increasing pressure to perform at top levels at all times. Inevitably these requirements lead to stress and this must be tackled before it affects staff morale and productivity!

I remember working in a restaurant many years ago and having to go out into the main mall and perform, what appeared to be, ludicrous exercises. We all thought it was designed to keep the workforce fit but it is actually an ancient Chinese method of stress relief.

Tai Chi Chuan is a practise that the Chinese used to relieve stress and, in fact, try to avoid it in the first place. During the time of Mao Tse Tung this practise was widespread. At the beginning of each work day hundreds of employees were asked to meet at the main squares all over China to exercise. It is an elementary form of Tai Chi, the practice of extremely slow martial arts movements designed to balance the flow of Chi (life energy) around the meridian points of the body.

The majority of people who practise some kind of stress control in the work place tend to be more successful in their careers and much more productive. You know the old axiom “a happy worker is a productive worker!”

Some careers may be more stressful than others or more stressful at other times. However, the machine operator in a factory can be just as stressed as the office Administrator because each person is unique and each person’s problems are just as important to them as the CEO’s company problems are to him/her. Large corporations and medium sized companies tend to overlook this and must become aware of the situation if they wish to improve company productivity because the workers are the company!

“Tension Prevention” is the name of the game. Stress management can be easily taught to the workforce by providing the knowledge and skills needed to identify rising stress levels and how to combat them.

Good communication between all levels of the workforce, from upper management, to the labourer, is a very effective way of combating stress. Just the knowledge that someone is listening and prepared to take action on issues is enough to seriously reduce stress levels.

Some jobs require a certain level of pressure but when this pressure get to a point when the worker feels he/she has no control then stress ensues. This sense of urgency can have a very destructive effect on not only one worker but on the company as a whole and starts snow-balling out of control badly affecting staff morale. Controlling stress at work will also reduce the negative impact on inter personal relationships outside work. Improving communication, time management and understanding of the affects of stress is key way to generate a peaceful environment and increased productivity.

Current research suggests that fixed work-schedules contribute the most to increased levels of stress, the feeling that there is insufficient time to complete personal daily work tasks accounts for the greatest cause of stress at work.

By incorporating a stress management system which is focused on time-dependent tasks, an anti-stress program to help workers combat stress, scheduled rest breaks, reward for productive stress-free work and combating non-productive workers that put pressure on their colleagues are all solutions that work.

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