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Workplace Counselling : Organisational Interventions


Content of EAP's : on-site fitness facilities, relaxation classes, counselling... Health promotion (e.g. gym membership) Counselling. Cognitive Approach : ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Workplace Counselling : Organisational Interventions

Workplace Counselling Organisational
  • The concept of employee assistance
  • Stressors in the Workplace
  • Stress-related absence
  • Organisational responsibility for stress
  • Creating a healthy workplace

The Concept of Employee Assistance
  • early 1900s welfare provision
  • 1920s industrial psychiatry
  • Mayo (1936) a happy worker is a productive
  • 1940s Employee Assistance
  • Characteristics of early Employee Assistance
  • aim employee regulation
  • welfare team psychiatrists, social workers,
    occupational psychologists and personnel officers
  • peripheral
  • curative medical model

Characteristics of Contemporary Approaches to
Employee Assistance
  • Political pressure legislation (Health Safety
    Executive, 1995) happy productive has led
    to ....
  • Employee Assistance as a philosophy (Carroll,
  • Mental Health Counselling EAPs
  • US litigation for cases of emotional damage,
    stress-related illness (Carroll, 1996)
  • prevention better than cure

Stress in the WorkplaceHow bad is it ?...
  • Economic health employee ill-health (-ve
  • Dutch Bureau for Social Statistics (SCP), 2000
    5-15 pop. of Western European countries receive
    social security benefits (UK approx. 10)
  • 1 in 3 unable to work due to mental grounds
    (90 suffering exogenous reaction)
  • 30-60 of all sickness from work in UK due to
    some form of mental/emotional disturbance (Health
    Safety Executive,1998) 40 million working days
    per year.
  • Mental Health Foundation (2000)
  • 4 billion pounds lost annually
  • line mgrs 75 felt anyone could suffer from
    stress at some time
  • Most common musculoskeletal disorders
    (back-problems) then work-related stress

What is Stress ?
  • stress as an outside stimulus (traditional/early
  • stress as an internal response
  • Cannon (1930s) first to link stress to
    disease/physiological responses (animal, human
    lab studies)
  • Selyle (1946) first to look at the process of
    development of illness through stress 3 stages
    - alarm reaction(lowered resistance
    counter-shock gt defense mechanisms) ...
    resistance (coping strategies) ... exhaustion
    (adaptive mechanisms collapse)

Causes of Stress Theory
  • Cumming Cooper (1979) type of P x E model
  • individuals try to keep their world steady
  • each factor of a persons emotional and physical
    world has a range in which that person feels
  • the individuals behaviour which is aimed at
    maintaining this state coping strategies
  • Smith et al (1978) stress occurs in all
  • NB. occupational differences (caring
    professions, medics, PSYCHIATRISTS!!) gender
    differences (men affected 2x women, although
    women increasing)

  • Adams (1963) Equity Theory
  • High/systemic imbalance between employee
    investments (time effort) employee
  • External vs Internal Investments
  • External vs Internal Rewards
  • Burnout ltltlt high external effort low internal
    reward (Bosma et al, 1998 Evans Fisher,1993
    Siegrist, 1996)
  • Roe Zijlstra (2000)
  • increasing intensification of the working day
  • work demands life demands
  • N.B. Individual differences in peoples
    interpretations of events hardy personality

Causes of Stress Research
  • Cooper et al (1988) 5 categories of work stress
  • 1. Factors Intrinsic to Job
  • hours of work (long hours, shift work) working
    conditions (heat, light, noise) risk and danger
    new technology work overload work underload
  • 2. Role in the Organisation
  • role ambiguity (more stress when high ambiguity),
    role conflict (job role job role, job role
    other), level of responsibility (for people or
    things Wardwell (64) for people is more
    stressful than for things)
  • 3. Relationships at Work
  • the importance of social support (Lazarus, 66
    Cartwright Cooper, 97)

Cooper et al (1988), continued...
  • 4. Career Development
  • - job security development (high nAch)
  • - retirement (role transition i.e. roleless
  • - job performance and appraisal
  • - unemployment (e.g. Fryer Payne, 86 low
    happiness, low self esteem and poor psychological
    well-being Eisenberg 38 Model of reaction to
    unemployment stage one shock, stage two
    optimism, stage three pessimism)
  • 5. Organisational Structure Climate
  • Lack of autonomy and freedom (Career Anchors)

Consequences of Stress
  • Individual
  • physical coronary heart disease, backache,
    migraine, skin complaints, respiratory disorders,
    stomach ulcers etc.etc.!
  • psychological decrease in job performance
    (Yerkes-Dodson Law) depression panic attacks
    etc etc.
  • Organisational
  • Quick Quick (1984) absenteeism and turnover
  • loss to organisations almost half of lost
    employees salary
  • By 1970s absenteeism cost more to industry than
    strikes and work stoppages
  • Litigation and Health Care Costs
  • Societal economic and social consequences

Indicators of Individual Stress
  • Increase in unexplained absences or sick leave
  • Poor performance
  • Poor timekeeping
  • Increased consumption of alcohol, tobacco,
    caffeine (drug taking)
  • Headaches/Backaches
  • Withdrawal from social contact
  • Poor judgement/indecisiveness
  • Constant fatigue
  • Unusual displays of emotion
  • Indicators of Group Stress increased bickering,
    high staff turnover, increased grievances and

N.B. The Criterion Problem Diagnosing
stress-related illness
  • Relevant information is not registered
  • Differences in procedures/legislation
  • Unclear diagnostic criteria (International
    Classification of Impairments, Diseases and
    Handicaps - no international definition of
    stress as a medical condition)

Stress-Related Absence
  • Absence figures absence due to - own illness,
    injury, medical problems, childcare problems,
    family/personal obligations, civil/military duty,
    maternity/paternity leave.
  • Not included vacation, personal development
    days, industrial action - and anything else not
    given above.
  • N.B. Multiple job-holders
  • Absence Rate No. workers with absences No.
    workers in full-time employment (e.g. 25 100
    1 in 4)
  • Absenteeism Rate Total no. lost working days /
    no. workers in workforce x no. working days) x
  • CBI survey 1996 - 187 million lost days (12bn)
  • static among manual staff, increased by 2 days
    (on average) in non-manual workers (N.B. manual
    staff more)
  • public sector vs private sector (although gap

How organisations perceive stress-related absence
  • 98 said sickness absence genuine
  • 20 increase in orgs using sickness record as a
    selection criteria for redundancy
  • Traditionally, orgs responded to prolonged
    absence by disciplinary process/termination. Now
    - employee legislation prevents termination.
  • Organisations as Ostriches!
  • Organisational costs of stress-related absences
  • ? overtime payments, training efforts, insurance
    premiums, admin. responsibilities, salary paid
    for no work performance, disruption in normal
  • ? morale, safety risks, productivity, quality of

Organisational Economic correlates of employee
  • low unemployment
  • growing organisation
  • high employee turnover
  • unionized organisation
  • overtime pay available
  • low wages
  • employees have short tenure

Creating a Healthy Workplace
  • The individual and the organisation need to
  • be aware and accept a problem exists (individual
    is not incompetent, org. must monitor
    sick/turnover rates)
  • identify and isolate the problem (stress diaries,
    stress audits - employee satisfaction surveys)
  • attempt to change the problem in a way that is
    mutually beneficial - or find appropriate coping
  • monitor and review the outcome of the strategy

Cures for Stress
  • Employee Assistance Programmes
  • Are employee rather than org. directed - focus
    on changing individuals behaviour (not stressors
    in the work environment)
  • Feldman (1991) 75 of Fortune 5000
    organisations use EAPs
  • Content of EAPs on-site fitness facilities,
    relaxation classes, counselling....
  • Evaluation of EAPs Organisations like them as
    lead to significant financial benefits (due to
    decreased absenteeism) do not disrupt
    business present a high profile means whereby
    org. is seen to be doing something about stress

Stress Management Training Content
  • Behaviour Modification techniques
  • Health promotion (e.g. gym membership)
  • Counselling
  • Cognitive Approach maladaptive thinking
  • e.g. Rational Emotive Therapy - challenge
    irrational thoughts
  • Humanistic-Phenomenological Approach
  • e.g. Q-Sort piles describing ideal vs
    current self.
  • Encounter Groups hug me, man
  • Erhard Seminars training 250 people in a field
    shouting at each other

Evaluation of Employee Assistance
  • Reynolds et al (1993) SMT gt decreased
    self-report of stress, and psychological indices
    of strain - no improvement in job satisfaction,
    work stress, blood pressure
  • Allison et al (1988) Counselling gt improved
    mental health - no improvement in job
    satisfaction or organisational commitment
  • Ivancevitch et al (1988) Fitness Programmes gt
    70 failed to maintain the programme after

Changing the sources of workplace stress
prevention rather than cure
  • Elkin Rosch (1990) 10 strategies
  • Redesign -task, -work environment establish
    flexible working encourage participative
    management and employee development provide
    social support and feedback share rewards have
    fair employment policies
  • Evidence
  • Guzzo et al (1985) increased empowerment gt
    increased productivity
  • Dale et al (1998) Quality Circle Programmes
    self-monitoring, autonomous work units - have
    significant positive impact on productivity and
    employee attitudes.

Characteristics of the Healthy Organisation
  • Cartwright Cooper (1994)
  • Levels of stress are low
  • org. commitment and job satisfaction are high
  • sickness, absenteeism and turnover are below the
    national average
  • industrial relations are good - strikes are
  • safety and accident records are good
  • fear of litigation is absent
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