There are a number of ways by which the risk of work stress can be reduced. These include:
- Primary prevention, reducing stress through:
– work and environmental design,
– organizational and management development,
- Secondary prevention, reducing stress through:
– worker education and training, and
- tertiary prevention, reducing the impact of stress by:
– developing more sensitive and responsive management systems and enhanced occupational health provision.
The organization itself is a generator of different types of risk. Tertiary prevention in organizations places an emphasis on the provision of responsive and efficient occupational health services. Contemporary work stress management should, therefore, encompass tertiary prevention.
A good employer designs and manages work in a way that avoids common risk factors for stress and prevents as much as possible foreseeable problems.
Well-designed work should include:
Clear organizational structure and practices
Employees should be provided with clear information about the structure, purpose, and practices of the organization.
- Appropriate selection, training, and staff development
Each employee’s skills, knowledge, and abilities should be matched as much as possible to the needs of each job.
Candidates for each job should be assessed against that job’s requirements.
Where necessary, suitable training should be provided.
Effective supervision and guidance is important and can help protect staff from stress.
- Job descriptions
A job description will depend on an understanding of the policy, objectives, and strategy of the organization, on the purpose and organization of work and on the way performance will be measured.
- Job descriptions have to be clear
It is important that an employee’s manager and other key staff are aware of the relevant details of the job and make sure that demands are appropriate.
The better employees understand their job, the more they will be able to direct the appropriate efforts towards doing it well.
Managers should talk to their staff, listen to them and make it clear that they have been heard.
Communication of work expectations should be comprehensible, consistent with the job description and complete.
Commitments made to staff should be clear and should be kept.
- Social environment
A reasonable level of socializing and teamwork is often produced as it can help increase commitment to work and to the workgroup
In an existing workplace, it may be far from reasonable to expect all these factors to be present or introduced where they are absent. It might, therefore, be better to identify any mismatch between demands and pressures, on the one hand, and workers knowledge and abilities, on the other, set priorities for change and manage the change towards risk reduction.