For some time now it has not been acceptable for organisations to rely upon the physical and mental resilience of their individual employees to prevent distress and subsequent ill health.
The old fashioned notions that the business inefficiencies – including legal fees, presenteeism and absenteeism – resulting from distress can be prevented by the well trodden paths of organisational stress audits, health promotion, resilience training and offering an employee assistance or counselling service no longer hold water.
Indeed top down, assumptive and ill-thought through interventions can do more harm than good.
The health and performance of individual employees is influenced by the physical and psychological environments and their interactions with them.
Managers at all levels are responsible for both the physical and psychological work environments and thereby have the ability to create positive work cultures and environments.
Distress is the most commonly referred to type of stress – i.e. having negative implications, whereas positive stress is usually related to desirable, yet challenging, events in a person’s life. Persistent distress that is not resolved through coping or adaptation may lead to more serious symptoms of anxiety, withdrawal and depression.
Distress is taxing on the body and is cumulative in nature, depending on a person’s way of adapting to the stressor that caused it. Each person responds in a different way to physical and psychological stressors. Positive workplace stress can serve a useful purpose. Work stress only becomes a problem for individuals when it becomes uncontrollable, intolerable and prolonged – the precursor to distress.
The point at which stress or pressure becomes intolerable leading to distress varies between people, according to their own perceptions and their physical and mental resilience – for some people pressure is like ‘water off a duck’s back’. On the other hand the same pressure can cause some people distress to the point of suffering serious ill-health. This is why top down or “one size fits all” interventions are likely to fail.
What can be done?
Stress is primarily based on perceptions. It is how an individual perceives a given situation and how they perceive their task(s). Positive stress is therefore related to self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is one’s judgment of how you can carry out a required task, action or role. The goal then is for organisations to create working environments that generate positive work cultures and for individuals to be helped to increase self-efficacy.
Creating positive working cultures
The key is to quickly and accurately identify the barriers that are preventing the creation of a positive working culture.
Of course, this is easier said than done, which is why we have created a statistically validated tool which accurately predicts the root causes of the stressors that are or may be beginning to cause distress.
Our validated tool is based on an online questionnaire that takes an individual ten minutes to complete. The information gathered is translated into extraordinarily clear and simple output data, which identifies these root causes, which are the barriers to a positive work culture.
COPE can use this data to create proactive, targeted and effective interventions that are truly preventative.
To find out how COPE can help you to create a positive work culture and a truly preventative work environment, please complete our online enquiry form, or call us on 0115 925 9222.