Is job stress a growing problem in your shop, or is the only stress you try to avoid the stress in your tops? The truth is, stress is a serious epidemic that faces nearly everyone today. Notice this comment from the South African news magazine To the Point, "Beginning in the middle of the fourteenth century, the Plague rampaged through Europe, killing a quarter of the population. But today, six centuries later, Europe and the West are facing a less dramatic but equally devastating and more insidious epidemic. Today's disease manifests itself in many forms, but is rooted in a single poison: STRESS. Dubbed the 'Twentieth Century Killer,' stress arises mainly from the psychological demands of life."
Is stress, particularly job stress, really a modern day killer? Job stress can be defined as the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker. To appreciate the seriousness of this epidemic consider the following statistics taken from a report from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH):
• One fourth of employees view their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives.
• Three-fourths of employees believe the worker has more on- the-job stress than a generation ago.
• Problems at work are more strongly associated with health complaints than are any other life stressor, more so than even financial problems or family problems.
• Research shows a correlation between job stress and increased cardiovascular disease, psychological disorders, workplace injury, suicide, cancer, ulcers, and impaired immune function.
Job stress that may lead to physical and emotional problems will eventually have a trickle down effect on the entire company. It will lead to employee absenteeism that will slow down and ultimately derail your production. As a concerned manager, you should constantly be on the lookout for signs of job stress in your employees, including: headache, poor concentration, short temper, job dissatisfaction and low morale.
If you notice these symptoms you should carefully analyze the situation to find the cause. The countertop business is inherently a stressful one, with deadlines to meet, and sometimes demanding customers. Does your particular management style help to diffuse a stressful atmosphere in the workplace, or does it actually make things worse? You might ask yourself the following:
• Is the workload I am assigning suitable to my employee's capabilities?
• Am I allowing adequate rest breaks and reasonable work hours?
• Do I give opportunities for workers to participate in making decisions?
• Are our policies sensitive to family needs and responsibilities?
• Are the environmental conditions of our shop unpleasant or dangerous?
• Do we try to resolve conflicts quickly rather than letting them fester?
• Am I reasonable about my own work, not pushing myself into a dangerous burnout situation?