In modern-day workplaces, employees work under constant pressure. This pressure is presumably driven by the fear of change and the many work place stressors. Change is and always has been an inevitable fact of life. For most people change and adversity are difficult paths to traverse, especially in work settings where the challenges may abruptly alter the course of one’s career and/or lifestyle.
Employees often fear losing their jobs or getting transferred to unfamiliar positions. Little control over workplace events triggers increased tension, uncertainty, anger, and other forms of stress. The emotional and psychological stresses that accompany all this can not be understated.
The pressures exerted within the physical workplace weigh heavily on both employers and employees. It is how they both respond to these pressures that matters most. Invariably it is expected that the response will be determined by the given circumstances, may warrant drastic action, or allow for a measure of accommodation.
In whatever prevailing circumstances, it is the exercise of effective management that will make the difference. To start by fearing or resisting change and challenges will certainly not help the situation. Empowering management and employees with the necessary skills to effectively manage change, will make a fundamental difference in how they handle the pressures which are thrust upon them.
Organisations and enterprises should therefore pay attention to strategically preparing managers and employees so that they may demonstrate better organizational performance, regardless to whatever changes confronted them.
In the current climate of economic recession, there is always a measure of uncertainty and expectation of disappointment. Usually most workers are not prepared for the disappointment that is to follow. They are often fooled by the employers’ pronouncements of the strong performance of individual enterprise, only to be suddenly confronted with the news of the drastic decline in the bottom line. Like employees, employers too are jolted by the challenges they face. In many instances, their response is to panic and thereafter the roller coaster ride commences. Layoffs and budget cuts become the order of the day. In some instances some of these are induced and cannot be justified.
Those employers and employees, who resort to panicking in times of workplace crisis, should be aware that the ability to manage stress in the workplace can make a difference between success and failure on the job and in managing the affairs of the enterprise or organisation.
Finding solutions to the pressures that come with an economic downturn are not tailor-made or easy to identify. The demands placed upon management and the anxiety and frustration that workers face, adequately sums up what can be best described as living on the edge. In such recessionary times, it is good advice to encourage all persons to engage themselves in positive thinking. There ought to be recognition and acceptance of the fact that there are some things over which individuals have no control. Further to this, it may be best not to attempt to control them. Nonetheless, to adopt a defeatist attitude will certainly not help to improve the situation.
Inasmuch that there may not be a template for dealing with the type of workplace stress which emerges from an economic downturn, it is advisable that where management constantly
reevaluate their enterprises with a view to putting structures in place to match both needs and expectations, and to deal with possible consequences, any likely fallout, pain, agony and suffering could be substantially reduced.
* Dennis De Peiza is a Labour Management Consultant at Regional Management Services Inc.
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