A Case Study: Dispatches from the War on Stress

Situation This article discusses the global effects of workplace stress. In this day’s business world, employee’s psychological health is overshadowed by the need to meet numbers and expectations. With a higher demand to meet goals, along with the increased pressure from competing firms, companies have been distinctively increasing employee workload; which in turn, produces a build-up of work-related stress for the employee. As a result, more cases of employee dissatisfaction and burn-out are amounting and becoming more apparent.
Many companies are now tackling this growing issue of stress with different thoughts and methods to help reduce it for a more effective and happy employee. Key Issues Mark Ostermann, Chicago office of Boston Consulting Group. Mr. Ostermann was a case at which work-place stress has resulted in him to put excessive hours (60+) for a month and a half straight in order to finish a project. Luckily, the “Red Zone” police (a group created by the company to help with employee satisfaction) was able to intervene before the stress became unbearable.
Not much later, Ostermann was within an action plan to solve his overwork problem. In no time, more people were added to his team to divide the work along with better managerial support. Renault automaker. In the course of five months, three engineers committed suicide who left notes stating about their unreasonable work-loads, immense work-place pressure, and humiliating criticisms in front of colleagues. Known for setting grand targets to boost sales, Renault has acknowledged the pressure put on their employees and committed a plan along with $10 million to alleviate workplace stress.

In addition, the company began to train managers on how to avoid negative stress along with psychologists to help educate senior executives. The company also has put an effort to set up more places for socializing and relaxation. Problem There is no question that the workplace is a very stressful place. Most companies who are under a lot of pressure to meet goals are constantly striving to meet these achievements. As a result of the goals set by senior executives, the stress is burdened on the shoulders of the employees. The roblem is not work-stress, but the global lack of prevention of “over stressing” and lack of knowledge in identifying and managing it. It is the case with Renault Automaker, when it took the deaths of three engineers due to work-related stress before setting a program to alleviate work-related stress. In the case of Mark Ostermann, adequate knowledge in identifying stress by the “Red Zone” team prevented further development of unwanted consequences in relation to his project. Alternative Solutions Work-related stress is inevitable, but may be alleviated and contained to a minimum by doing implementing a number of programs. 1.
Impose mandatory relaxation and social time during the work day. In the recent cases of Toyota Co. recalling vehicles for numerous “manufacturing defects”, part of the blame has been pointed towards the Toyota Japan’s work ethic (Holt 2010). Workers for Toyota Japan often put in 60+ hours per week, have shorter break times. 2. Provide better training for managers about psychological stress. Often the problem lies within the inability of managers to spot employees who are experiencing an extraordinary amount of stress. From the ability to realize work-stress to their ability to criticize others, added training can benefit the entire workplace. . Provide onsite programs geared toward stress management. Many companies have resorted to onsite programs to help with stress management (Clabaugh 2009). Resources vary from onsite massage stations, yoga lunch breaks, to onsite oil changes. Selected Solution Knowledge is power. It ensures that the more we know, the more we can manipulate it. Providing better training for managers about stress management and the effects of psychological stress can effectively reduce the amount of extraordinary stress on employees within the workplace. Companies strive to achieve higher goals and to get the most “work” from the employees.
Better training in stress management helps set reasonable goals as to maintain efficiency and prevent over-working. With better training, managers will be more likely to notice individual employees experiencing symptoms from over-work. Much stress from the workplace also comes from demeaning criticisms and fear of “the boss”. Training for managers on effects of psychological stress can help managers choose their words wisely as to reflect the issue at hand without creating a stressful encounter. Case Questions 1. This case study describes various ways that companies try to manage workplace stress.
Referring to the types of stress management strategies described in this chapter, which approaches are applied most and least often? In this case study, the strategy applied most is the provision of “workplace de-stressors”. General Mills provides in-house personal services to help maximize employee time with social and familial aspects of their lives rather than using off days to do errands. From this study, the least used is a survey method to assess stress as mentioned by IBM computers. 2. What stress outcomes are mentioned in this case study? What stressors are noted in association with these stress outcomes?
One of the stress outcomes which was mentioned was suicide. Leading to suicide, the engineers left notes stating the insurmountable amount of stress burdened onto them by high workloads, high-pressure management tactics, humiliating criticisms, and exhaustion. 3. Some of the stress problems described in this chapter refer to winning or losing in performance management. Why would the risk of failing to achieve performance goals result in such serious stress outcomes? Most individuals strive for acceptance, especially in the work place. Failing to achieve performance goals brings about the feelings of inadequacy and humility for many.
In most cases, employees strive to do their best at the expense of personal time and family in order to earn achievements in the work place. Not being able to reach goals can be detrimental to one’s psyche. References Mueller, C. (2005, December 19). Stress Management In The Workplace: Handling Work Stress. Retrieved March 14, 2010, from http://ezinearticles. com/? Stress-¬Management-¬In-¬The–Workplace:-¬Handling-¬Work-¬Stress&id=115473 Clabaugh, J (November 2009). Employers tackle on-the-job stress. Retrieved March 14, 2010 from Washington Business Journal

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