Stress is a gateway to workplace accidents, injuries, absenteeism and poor performance. In a recently published study, The Burden of Stress in America, both men and women rated finances and work problems as the second and third highest contributors to their personal stress.
In one of the largest studies (n-186,440) titled, Safety at Work: An Investigation of the Link Between Job Demands, Job Resources, Burnout, Engagement, and Safety Outcomes, which documented links to job demands and stress as having a larger than expected negative impact on workplace safety. The study also identified three critical factors that when consistently integrated into a safety culture will significantly reduce accidents and injuries and improve the health and performance of your employees.
The first factor is to consistently perform formal and informal supportive risk and hazard assessments to reduce, mitigate or eliminate risks and hazards in tasks, the workplace environment and with the interface between employees and equipment.
The second is for organizations to create a supportive work environment for their employees. The primary way to accomplish this is to provide training for managers and supervisors to be better leaders and to emphasize the importance of listening, teamwork and social supports.
The third is to be observant of factors that physically and psychologically increase work demands and stress. Remember that the unknown and feeling that you don’t have any control over your situation create the most distress for people.
Interestingly, across all industries, real and perceived risks and hazards was the most consistent job demand (stressor) and a supportive environment was the most consistent job resource in terms of explaining variance in burnout, engagement, and safety outcomes.
Safety Culture Tip: If your organization is experiencing disruptions due to reductions in business or other changes (remember most people view change as stressful) it will tap into what most people report as the biggest contributors to their personal stress – financial problems and work problems.
Request your managers and supervisors to assess the physical, psychological and emotional climate of their employees.
Implement and emphasize the three factors, from the study, which are proven to reduce employee stress, accidents and injuries:
Request that supervisors and managers schedule a number of supportive risk and hazard assessments with their employees on all shifts. This is a great opportunity to not only assess risk, but as importantly for managers and supervisors to listen and converse with their employees. This will communicate caring and support. Most often night shifts receive little face-to-face contact with managers. This is a time to schedule that visit; it says a lot and means a lot! Actions always speak volumes!
Get to know your each of your employees and how they deal with stress. Some become more withdrawn while others may show increased annoyance and irritation. Take the time to check in with these employees and privately let them know you noticed a change in their behavior and would like to talk if they would like too. You can also suggest that the employee can connect with the EAP and your Employee Health Specialist for support.
Information is power. The biggest fear of humans is of the unknown. Share as much information as you can with your employees. Even if the news is “bad” people do better knowing then left to catastrophizing alone or with each other. Communicating indicates that you respect and care. Look for the positive aspect of the situation and or change and convey that as well.
Creating a supportive environment will go along way in preventing the next lost time day and the trust of your employees.
Our Purpose To provide leaders and organizations with the skills and tools to sustain optimal engagement, performance and competitiveness and cultures that afford all stakeholders the highest levels of safety and well-being.
Time: April 26- 28, 2011 Location: Evonik Industries Greensboro, NC, U.S. Quality Boot Camp Creating a Department Mission and Vision Program