Updated: Aug 14
Author(s): Roksoliana Moukha, Diep Anh Nguyen, Giho Choi, and Nisha Singhal
If you have worked any job in your lifetime, you have probably experienced workplace stress. For instance, being scheduled for too many hours or dealing with a string of demanding customers and managers can cause you to encounter a form of workplace stress. Stress is a type of pressure that can affect the mind and body in a negative way (Kim et al., 2020). Workplace stress is a serious issue that can affect any worker at any time, whether it be mild or severe, physical or mental, and can be viewed through different lenses. Many types of stressors are present in the workplace that can lead directly or indirectly to workplace stress. The well-being of employees depends on how effectively they handle workplace stress, which can depend on how much control they have in the workplace and how many resources are available at their disposal.
Research has found that one method known as ‘job control’ has helped alleviate workplace stress. Job control permits employees to reschedule work time and arrange workload to accommodate their psychological and physical needs (Kim et al., 2020, p. 1353). ‘Worktime control’ occurs when the distribution and duration of one’s work time is controlled by the employees, which is stress-related and is closely associated with job control (Weiß, 2020, p. 682-683). The relationship and connection between worktime control and job control are further acknowledged as both are resolutions for reducing stress by giving employees the option to work from home or allowing them to choose their work hours (Weiß, 2020). The decrease in stress due to job control is further confirmed when examining its effects globally, as shown in South Korea (Kim et al., 2020, p. 1353). Organizations that do not promote job control and worktime control can lead employees to ‘work overtime,' which is often a consequence of an inadequate time management strategy. Working overtime correlates to increased stress due to long periods spent performing tasks, resulting in work overload and a work-life imbalance. However, working overtime is not only passive but can be an employee's choice due to external pressures from others (Kim et al., 2020, p. 1355).
When looking at the connection between job resources and stress, it is clear that the consequences are related to the availability of resources and an age-based workforce. ‘Job resources’ play a significant role in the workplace and include time, energy, effort, and many other elements that a particular job requires. Having enough resources enhances the job satisfaction of multiple generations at the workplace. If work resources are not present, it can lead to a difficult relationship with the organization for the older workforce (Yaldiz et al., 2018, p. 191). It is also important to consider that age gaps in the workforce and a lack of resources can contribute to other stressors like role overload. Role pressure, role expectation, and role forces are all related to ‘role overload,’ which aligns with social practices and relationships in an organization (Stevenson & Duxbury, 2019). Role overload is also known as a role stressor, which is shaped by the role expectations that are gradually and spatially set in a social and cultural context. The expectations lead to role pressures that produce psychological stress and strain experiences.
It has been found that getting on well with supervisors and being treated equally is associated with stress relief and the well-being of older workers (Yaldiz et al., 2018, p. 191). The needs of employees of different age groups in the workforce should be considered, as older workers should experience the feeling of being valued members of the organization. It can help older workers significantly reduce stress. To create an environment that values workers, there needs to be communication and strong relationships between supervisors and employees. Managerial training and work redesign interventions are one way to accomplish the goal. Overall, having a variety of job resources can help employees reduce overtime and manage their workload, resulting in a decrease in stress levels (Rosen et al., 2020).
Aligning job resources, role overload, and job control with communication play a significant role in satisfying employees' needs (Yaldiz et al., 2018). A lack of communication adds to workplace stress due to problems with the clarity of guidelines (Stevenson & Duxbury, 2019). When neglecting important information and not having open communication in the workplace, there is an increase in anxiety that may lead to poor performance. Moreover, when we look at older workers specifically, they usually feel neglected and unappreciated because their leaders do not communicate with them about their achievements, increasing workplace stress (Yaldiz et al., 2018).
Good communication is constructed by social practices and workplace culture (Kim et al., 2022, p. 1352). It plays a prominent role in the way expectations are set toward others. Communication can buffer role stressors, like any additional tasks that are added to an individual's job responsibilities (Stevenson & Duxbury, 2019, p. 334). The first role stressor is a hindrance stressor. It negatively impacts the growth and task accomplishment of workers and is what we refer to as daily hassles and a lack of job-related resources (Rosen et al., 2020). Next is challenge stressors, which are the opposite of hindrance stressors and speed up the task accomplishment of workers, and requires employees to gather their resources to complete the workload on time (Rosen et al., 2020). However, if strategic job control is not implemented and communication between employees is poor, it could result in working overtime and the impossibility of making the challenge stressors positive. The inconsistency in the challenge stressor can potentially make their workers vulnerable and lead to a mental breakdown, resulting in a decrease in work performance (Rosen et al., 2020, p. 1192). Many stressors cause employees severe workplace stress leading to negative consequences. Reviewing these stressors can help decrease or even eliminate employees' stress.
There are multiple ways an organization can help support its employees and reduce workplace stress. As mentioned above, stress negatively affects people's health and behaviour. Organizations can focus on primary, secondary, and tertiary interventions that help reduce workplace stress. Here are five recommendations for organizations to help shield or mitigate the effects of stress at the workplace.
1. Develop a stress management program that focuses on how to eliminate and manage stress
Creating a stress management program is an effective method for decreasing employee stress in the workplace by presenting employees with different approaches to coping with stress and improving their health. The programs can help employees prevent, manage, and recover from workplace stress. Along with providing exercises that can help manage stress, a stress management program should also educate employees on the adverse effects of stress. When employees know how to handle their stress, there is a decrease in absenteeism and an increase in motivation. One great exercise to include in a stress management program is mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation helps decrease anxiety and stress while improving health and well-being. Also, stress management programs give many tips like how to manage time wisely and much more.
2. Provide employees with a flexible environment, allow for job control, and work redesign
Providing employees with flexible work, whether by letting them work from home or letting them choose their schedules, can help with workplace stress caused by factors like overtime, lack of control in the workplace, and more. Providing a flexible schedule can reduce overtime, which reduces stress and promotes a fair workplace. Giving employees job control can increase productivity, creativity, and work satisfaction. Letting employees have control and design their jobs can show employees that they are valuable to the organization and that the employer trusts them, which can reduce work-related stress. Work redesign can also help many older workers feel comfortable in the workplace and reduce stress by using the knowledge and skills they have acquired through their experience working. It can decrease uncertainty and increase comfort, ultimately leading to a decrease in stress.
3. Keep track of the workload through a good communication system with employees
Establishing a communication system between an employer and an employee can relieve stress caused by miscommunication, unfair treatment, and role overload. A good communication system can inform an employer that an employee is at capacity or a particular task does not fit within their job description. Although employers can establish periodic meetings with their employees, they can also communicate through writing, stopping by the office, and email. An important part of having an effective communication system is for employees to easily contact their employer and get a timely response. Communication can also build a trusting relationship, where an employee is more likely to seek help from the employer with problems relating to stress caused by work overload. Overall, communication can help reduce the pressure caused by work.
4. Establish an organizational goal to have frequent one-on-one meetings with individual employees
Setting one-on-one meetings with employees to evaluate how they are doing and feeling about their workload makes it more personal. This way, a company can recognize what is causing the employees to be stressed and evaluate current work methods. Managerial training is a key point for supervisors to utilize in supporting elderly workers as it develops effective communication. Having these kinds of training can help highlight skills looked for in leadership roles. This kind of communication will allow elderly workers to feel that they are valued by the company while also feeling that they can trust supervisors. Companies can also use this time to recognize an employee's hard work and encourage them to continue managing their task. When an employee is rewarded, they feel appreciated and want to continue achieving goals.
5. Encourage managers and employees to use humour in the workplace
The best way to relieve the tension of stress is through humour. Humour can brighten up a person's mood if it is done correctly. Having appropriate humour around employees can make them bond and feel more comfortable with management. Employees will feel safe at work while enjoying their work. Creating fun games at break time or making funny jokes as you pass by them can relieve their stress.
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