Managing Stress and Change at Work

Employees going through an organizational change may experience increased levels of stress. Fear of the unknown and uncertainty brought about by a change in organization structure can be very stressful indeed.

Concerns about losing one’s job or being relegated into a lower job level due to the change can make any employee worry of what is still to come. The longer it takes for employees to embrace and accept change, the more stressful it becomes in their working environment. Stress brought about by workplace change can be a problem that every organization should be aware of.

The first step in helping employees manage stress in a changing workplace is helping them better understand what stress is and how it works. Stress can mean a lot of things to different people. It is a collection of strong emotions that becomes the fuel that keeps it alive.

A good way of giving stress more meaning is by giving it some concrete substance. This can be done by helping employees to try and sort out what is bothering them in their changing workplace. The emotions and the descriptions that they will be able to give will provide you with the workplace triggers that employees believe cause them much stress.

There are a variety of common workplace stressors that employees usually associate with the stress that they feel. On top of the list is ongoing change that they have not yet come to grips with. Work overload as a result of organizational change along with deadline pressure will usually provide the ingredients for a stressful work environment.

Sometimes, organizational change may also bring about an unclear job responsibility as well as following unclear goals and objectives can be a cause great stress in employees. Never having a target to aim at can make employees feel a bit lost, not really knowing where they really belong in the changing workplace. This will, in turn, cause great stress to employees by getting the idea that unclear responsibilities in the organization may cause them to be made candidates for further redundancy.

Management and team conflicts are also workplace stressors that can take its toll on employees if not provided with an immediate solution. Misunderstandings may develop and may cause employees to divide their focus on different jobs instead of working together with the same understanding and focus.

Vague communication between different departments of an organization can also be a trigger for stress to thrive in the changing workplace. Lack of undue recognition can make an employee feel that he is not wanted in the organization that may eventually affect the performance of his duties.

Lack of getting employee feedback can also make employees feel that they do not matter in their new workplace. No available means of airing their side can make employees feel that they do not belong to the newly installed organization.

The effects of stress can cause employees to become less productive. High levels if stress in the workplace can bring about a loss of concentration among employees as well as increasing difficulty in making decisions and solving problems. Physical signs would include frequent headaches, lack of sleep, loss of appetite, muscle tension as well as frequent stomach upsets. Increased heart rate and an increase in blood pressure can bring about the more serious side of stress.

Workplace stress can be effectively managed simply by making changes in the organization more transparent to the employees. No employee wants to be left out in the cold when changes in the organization take place. They have the right to know and be able to understand what is going on.

It is up to the managers to help their workforce better understand why changes are essential to the organization and how it will be affecting them. Leaving them to get their information from other sources such as office gossips and unfounded speculation will only give rise to more confusion and a lot more stress.

Stress is an eventual outcome of organizational change. But it doesn’t mean that stress cannot be minimized. The best way to handle workplace stress in a changing environment is through better and effective communication. Without it, workplace triggers will permeate into the minds of employees and may give way to a failure in embracing and adapting to the changes that are happening in the organization.

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