Stress and emotional states are two factors that can impair the ability of an employee to become productive at the workplace. Its significant impact to employment can be devastating to an employee because of the inability to carry out daily responsibilities that can render him unfit to perform his tasks. Because stress and emotional states are important elements for workplace productivity, it is essential for an employee to learn how to manage stressful conditions. It is also crucial for the employer to recognize the condition among their employees and to find an effective intervention to help their employees overcome such conditions. This paper aims to understand the nature of stress and emotions and how it can have as significant impact to an employee and his productivity at work. The sources of stress will also be presented and to identify effective stress management principles and intervention that can help the employees restore their mental and emotional health at the workplace and what policies the organization can implement to help their employees manage stress and to maintain balance in their emotional state.
Stress is the mental, emotional and physical response to situations, people and change (Gregson, 2000). The variables that trigger stress are called stressors and this can emanate from internal or external sources. Internal stressors are the feelings and emotions that one feels, while the external sources are those coming from the environment, such as change and interaction with people. Emotions are described to be feelings and motivations that drive behaviors. The emotional state of an individual has been identified as adaptive responses to the disturbance of the equilibrium that can result in maladaptive coping mechanism (Contrada and Baum, 2011). Stress is not generally bad. Good stress can help a person learn to cope with changes, while bad stress results in negative emotions, behavior and responses.
Employees are confronted with a lot of stressors at the workplace. Occupational stressor vary and it may involve the nature of the job itself, such as one having to juggle mutiple job workloads and responsibilities, lack of clarity for the purpose of carrying out a task, absence of job security and the intensity of the demands from the job itself. The social and environmental conditions at the workplace can also contribute as stressors to an employee. This involves the work relationship of the employees to each other, organizational management problems, the condition of the workplace, career progression and organizational policies like the mismanagement of work schedules of the employees. It is very common to find the workload of the employees as the most common cause of stress at the workplace (Hill, 2001). It can be from a mismatch between the skills demanded by a job and the ability of the employee to meet such demand. Other causes of emotional stress to an employee can be from the feeling of unfairness of being underpaid, or not being given the opportunity for career advancements. Employees who do not get along well with the other employees are also likely to feel dissatisfied with the workplace environment. The management can also have some contribution in providing a stressful condition to their employees. The failure of providing the employees a conducive place to work, inflexible working hours and uneven workloads are just among them. Organizational policies such as the imposition of unreasonable deadlines can also be a major source of stress to the employees.
The presence of stress may result to the negative feelings thriving among the employees that can have a significant impact to productivity in the workplace. The outcome of stress can be fatal to the organization by failing to achieve its goals in productivity and efficiency of the employee work performance. Stress and negative emotional state can affect both the employees and the organization in general. Organizational leaders often underestimate how stress can be detrimental to the overall organizational performance. Many researchers focus on understanding the relationship between stressors and task performance with the finding that challenging and hindrance stressors are associated to a higher level of psychological and emotional strain that have a significant impact to work performance (International Stress Management Association, 2005). Employees will feel the lack of motivation in performing their job responsibilities and develop resentment towards the management or fellow employees. A stressful environment can produce an unhealthy working condition that can be detrimental to the ability of the employee to become productive and effective in accomplishing tasks and can result to the loss of valuable paid work hours and unproductive performance for the organization.
Self management of stress is important for an employee in order to restore the healthy state of her emotional, mental and physical well being. The lack of stress management ability can result to illness and cognitive decline, making one less motivated. Individual employees need to learn improving their communication ability to express their negative feelings and concerns to the management or employees to whom one has a strained relationship in a civil manner. According to Hiriyappa (2013), stress usually accumulates due to a bad communication skill. Misunderstanding and conflicting relationships within the organization are usually caused by the lack of communication and interpersonal skill. Being able to express one’s feelings in an appropriate manner helps relieve stress and can improve interpersonal skills within the workplace. Employees can also manage stress by taking a break in between work. This can help refresh their mind and body from a stressful condition. One can also manage stress better through time management. This gives the employee better control on the rate of his productivity without wasting time worrying and ending up not accomplishing anything.
Organizations should also recognize their responsibility in helping their employees learn to cope with stress and providing them support for better stress management. The management can introduce stress management program that will educate employees about stress and coping strategies. They can also introduce as a policy a stress assistance program that will provide confidential help to employees who need to cope with stress and other problems that can cause them difficulty in becoming effective and efficient in carrying out their job responsibilities. The implementation of a grievance committee can also help employees work out their sentiments, concerns and problems about the management and fellow employees in a more positive perspective knowing that they have an outlet from which to express their emotions and causes of their stress at work. An effective communication system can also provide the employees an outlet to share with the management their concerns, such as the conduct of a regular organizational meeting or forums. The stress management programs that the organization can also implement include morning exercises and culminating activities that will give the employees an opportunity to relax and interact with the other employees for better peer relationship. This can promote workplace camaraderie that will enable the employees to help each other manage work responsibilities and give social support to one another in managing a stressful working environment.
Contrada, R. and Baum, A. (2011). The handbook of stress science: Biology, psychology and health. New York: Springer Publishing.
Gregson, S.R. (2000). Stress Management. Minnesota: Capstone Press.
Hill, G. (2001). A level of psychology through diagrams. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hiriyappa, B. (2013). Stress management: leading to success. India: Booktango.
International Stress Management Association. (2005). Stress and quality of working life: Current perspectives in occupational health. New York: Information Age Publishing.