Work stress is often misunderstood. Stress is a response to circumstances and events that upset a person’s sense of stability, their equilibrium. This equilibrium is best expressed in terms of the balance of work demands and the amount of control, or perceived control, the worker has over these demands. Chronic or long-term stress can actually result in physical symptoms that would be associated with muscular skeletal injury. Addressing work stress for an individual most often involves establishing the proper balance between the person’s inner core beliefs and the roles and responsibilities they have at work. For an organization, this requires an evaluation of the expressed Values, Vision and Mission relative to how people experience those characteristics of the organization.
Work Stress and Individuals in Transition
Many times chronic work stress shows up as physical symptoms that do not respond to classic workstation changes or behavioral interventions. Chronic work stress often has at its root the need for the individual’s work situation to evolve. This sets the stage for a transition in work assignment or career. Using the same fundamental ergonomic approach of achieving the right balance between work demands and individual capabilities, work stress can be assessed in more macro terms of the nature of a person’s work and the intrinsic qualities of who that person is now, in their current phase of life. This approach has much in common with my approach to Facilitation of Groups, but is predicated on identifying and addressing the deep causes of physical discomfort or injury.
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