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Employee perceptions of the management of workplace stress. Nicholas Buys Griffith University Lynda Matthews University of Sydney Christine Randall Griffith University. Griffith Health. Impact of Workplace Stress.

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employee perceptions of the management of workplace stress

Employee perceptions of the management of workplace stress

Nicholas Buys

Griffith University

Lynda Matthews

University of Sydney

Christine Randall

Griffith University

Griffith Health

impact of workplace stress

Impact of Workplace Stress

US: Cost $300 billion per year absenteeism, reduced productivity and turnover

UK: Costs economy 10% of GDP

Australia: Direct costs to employers of over $15 billion

Griffith Health

level of intervention

Level of Intervention

Sources of workplace stress include:

excessive work hours

unreasonable performance demands

health and safety risks

lack of autonomy

poor communication, role ambiguity

job insecurity

workplace conflict

bullying and harassment

Interventions therefore required at organisational level as well as with individual

Griffith Health

workplace stress and dm

Workplace Stress and DM

Considerable evidence to support a DM approach that addresses sources of workplace stress

Minimal research into application of DM to the management of work-related stress

Lack of research into employees’ perceptions of the extent to which their employers implement effective disability management

Griffith Health

purpose of study

Purpose of Study

To explore how employees perceive their organizations’ efforts to address the management of stress in their workplaces

To examine differences in the management of workplace stress based on organizational location and size

To explore relationships between the incidence of stress, management of stress, and the number and likelihood of compensation claims

Griffith Health



Management of Workplace Stress Questionnaire

Purpose: Ratings of how organization addresses prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of workplace stress

Section 1: Demographic variables

Location of organisation ie country

Organisational type eg manufacturing, retail

Organisational size ie number of employees

Respondent’s role in the organisation

Griffith Health



Management of Workplace Stress Questionnaire

Section 2: 30 statements and 3 open-ended questions

Example items

“My organization has a safety program to address workplace stress”

“In my organization workplace accommodations are made to help workers with stress condition to RTW”

Griffith Health



Management of Workplace Stress Questionnaire

Open-ended questions

How does your organization informs employees about its workplace stress management policy?

What areas of work in your organization have been identified as having risks?

What services are provided by your organization to manage workplace stress?

Griffith Health




Owner/manager (27%),

Disability manager (17%)

Academic/researcher (11%),

Claims manager (6%)

Human resource manager (3%),

Other (36%)

Griffith Health




Europe (63%)

North America (24%),

Oceania (11%),

Asia (1%)

Africa (1%)

Griffith Health



Business Type

Health and community services (23%)

Government agency (21%)

Finance, insurance, property (13%)

Education (12%)

Manufacturing (6%)

Transport (4%)

Retail trade (2%)

Other (19%).

Griffith Health



Three sub-scales identified in Questionnaire :



Workplace Environment

Scales had high level of internal consistency

Griffith Health



Respondents not overly positive about their organisations’ management of workplace stress

Mean scores on individual survey items ranged from 3.06 to 4.85

(3 = Somewhat disagree, 4 = Somewhat agree, 5 = Agree)

On 67% of items the mean response was less than 4

Griffith Health

results prevention sub scale items

Results: Prevention sub-scale items

Main areas of concern

Stress prevention training

Collection and analysis of data to inform prevention efforts

Assessing risk relating to stress

Provision of safety programs to address workplace stress

One area perceived to be adequate

Process to minimize physical risks in the workplace

Griffith Health

results rehabilitation sub scale items

Results: Rehabilitation sub-scale items

Rated more positively than prevention

Provision of workplace accommodations

Monitoring and follow up of workers

Main area of concern

Training of supervisors to assist workers with a stress injury to return to work

Griffith Health

results workplace environment sub scale items

Results: Workplace Environment sub-scale items

Areas rated most positively

Level of job satisfaction in the organization

Level of trust between management and employees

Griffith Health

results demographic variables

Results: Demographic variables

No differences based on regional or organizational location

Significant differences based on organizational size and workplace environment

Smaller organizations (<100 employees) rated significantly higher than medium or large organizations on:

Job satisfaction

Levels of trust between management and employees

Joint resolution on ways to manage stress

Organizational commitment to deal with issues causing stress

Griffith Health



Higher levels of reported stress in organizations were associated with lower ratings of workplace environments

Lower levels of compensation claims were associated with higher ratings of prevention & higher workplace environment ratings

A higher likelihood of making a claim was negatively associated with higher ratings of the workplace environment

Griffith Health

results qualitative data

Results: Qualitative data

Communication of workplace stress management policy

Email, intranet, on-line bulletins,

Information sessions, induction training, staff training, staff meetings

Operations manuals, posters, company newspapers, information brochures

Personal contact, telephone helplines

Health & safety policies

15/48 responses (31%) ⇒ no formal communication of policy

Griffith Health

results qualitative data20

Results: Qualitative data

Areas of work identified as having risks

Various occupational roles

High workload, time pressure, production deadlines, Lack of resources, lack of supervision, lack of control, constant change, unrealistic performance expectations

Exposure to physical risks

Adversarial management style, conflict with colleagues

Client expectations, aggressive clients

Poor work-life balance, shift work, long hours

Griffith Health

results qualitative data21

Results: Qualitative data

Services to help workers manage workplace stress

Work arrangements

Flexible working conditions

Mandated working hours

Provision of mentors

Job sharing

Workplace and job accommodations

Opportunities to attend seminars & conferences

Griffith Health

results qualitative data22

Results: Qualitative data

Services to help workers manage workplace stress

Counselling, family support services, employee assistance programs

Occupational health services

Workplace health promotion, wellness information, relaxation programs

On-line help services, and workplace stress analyses

Gym facilities doctor consultations

Support groups

Manager training, personal coaching

Griffith Health



Employees are under-whelmed by the efforts of their employers to address the management of workplace stress, particularly in the area of prevention

Importance of a positive workplace culture

A systems approach is required to address the range of individual, organizational and environmental issues that impact management of workplace stress

Griffith Health

limitations further research

Limitations & Further Research

Nature and size of survey sample

Validity of questionnaire not fully established

Further research needed using larger populations to examine influence of number of independent variables

Griffith Health