Solving Work Stress Problems

There are various strategies to solve work stress problems.

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Work Redesign

The best strategies for work redesign focus on demands, knowledge, and abilities, support and control and include:

  • Changing the demands of work (e.g. by changing the way the job is done or the working environment, sharing the workload differently).
  • Ensure that employees have or develop the appropriate knowledge and abilities to perform their jobs effectively (e.g. by selecting and training them properly and by reviewing their progress regularly).
  • Improve employees’ control over the way they do their work (e.g. introduce flexi-time, job-sharing, more consultation about working practices).
  • Increase the amount and quality of support they receive (e.g. introduce ‘people management’ training schemes for supervisors, allow interaction among employees, encourage cooperation and teamwork).

Stress Management Training

  • Ask employees to attend classes on relaxation, time management, assertiveness training or exercise.

Ergonomics and Environmental Design

  • Improve equipment used to work and physical working conditions

Management Development

  • Improve managers’ attitudes towards dealing with work stress, their knowledge and understanding of it and their skills to deal with the issue as effectively as possible.

Organizational Development

  • Implement better work systems and management systems. Develop a more friendly and supportive culture.

There are basically three ways by which employers can detect problems early and prevent them from becoming serious. These are presented below.

Early detection and prevention of work stress-related problems:

  • Regularly monitoring staff satisfaction and health.
  • Making sure staff know whom to talk to about problems.
  • Knowing where to refer employees to for professional help when they appear to be experiencing real difficulties. Small businesses would perhaps refer in the first instance to their employees’ General Practitioner. Larger businesses may have access to their own occupational health service or Employee Assistance Programme.

It is essential that you take steps to confirm the effectiveness of the measures you have taken to correct work stress.

You should follow up your findings after a suitable period and compare them with your earlier findings and interpretation at the time of the initial assessment.

Your method of follow-up should be recorded and explained. If necessary, you may have to revise your approach to work stress problems

Caring for troubled workers

This is a tertiary prevention to work stress. When all efforts towards preventing work stress and controlling foreseeable risk have failed, you need to act swiftly and appropriately to deal with workers who are being hurt by the experience of work stress. You will be involved both in identifying employees in trouble and in managing their problem.

In cases that cannot be handled by the employer or manager, expert assistance should be sought.

Steps of tertiary prevention of work stress:

Identifying the problem

  • Work stress is usually revealed by observations of worker difficulties or worker complaints of difficulties and ill health.
  • Signs include irritability, aggression, errors, decreased performance, increases in smoking, drinking and substance abuse, higher levels of absenteeism and clients’ complaints.
  • You should look for any changes in workers’ behavior or health. Such warning signs should never be ignored. Where these signs coincide with excessive work pressures or demands, you should consider that the workers may be suffering from work stress.

What should you do to help?

  • An individual worker’s problems and the solutions to those problems should be discussed with the worker, described and agreed.
  • The timing of such discussions may depend on worker’s state of wellbeing.
  • Possible interventions, both individual (e.g. training, medical treatment, counseling) and organizational (e.g. job re-design, changes in management practices) should be planned, implemented and evaluated.


  • Careful records should be kept, and progress evaluated.
  • Records should be accurate, deal with facts and points of evidence
  • Opinions and judgments should not be represented as facts.
  • Proposed actions and the reasons for their selections should be agreed where possible and recorded.

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