AbstractIn recent years, productivity in organizations continues to rise generating high work demands to workers. The pressures to produce more generates psychological and physical toll to employees (McShane & Travaglione, 2005). This paper highlighted workers experiences to workplace stress and their impact on productivity and mental health. Among key aspects covered in the workplace environment that result to mental health problems in organizations are; organizational culture and structure, depression, stress, burnout, threat of downsizing, office politics and executive dysfunction (Jeffrey & Langlieb, 2003). Experiences of one employee in Victorian State were successful used to explore the topic of stress and mental health in the workplaces.
The interview covered a wider scope of stress in the workplace by focusing on organizational issues, occupational concerns and workers issues (World Health Organization, 2003). On daily basis, much is highlighted in media over the increased levels of stress and issues related to mental health like panic attacks, depression amongst others. However it is mystifying that little interest is taken by many managers and organizations about it. This can be likened to the proverbial burring of Ostrich head in the sand when the entire body is exposed for danger.
The kind of ignorance witnessed in companies only piles up side effects which eventually erupt and negatively impacts on workers’ and business productivity. In Australia for instance, approximately 7.7 million citizens’ are engaged in work related activities for one-quarter to one third of their time during waking hours (Victorian Health Promotion Foundation Summary Document, 2006). Thus, the current state characterized by increasing stress in the workplace as major cause of mental and physical health problems is not surprising. According to available data estimates, over $7 billion is spend yearly to cater for workplace disease and injury in Australia (Victorian Health Promotion Foundation Summary Document, 2006).
Kenny et al. (2000), claims occupational stress is a thorny issue that unnecessarily increases occupational health costs. ILO (1986; 1992) recognized work stress as a major world-wide challenge to worker’s health and productive in their organizations. (World Health Organization, 2003). Workplace stress can be defined in terms of harmful emotional and physical responses to working requirements which do not match resources, capabilities and the needs of employees (World Health Organization, 2003).
The stress then leads to injury or ill health when employees feel they have no support from colleagues and supervisors or have limited control over work pressures and demands. Alternatively, stress is an unreasonable culture in workplace that manifests in worker’s chronic psychological or physical wellbeing (McShane & Travaglione, 2005). It is understandable under all employable criteria that an individual must deliver under pressure especially under current dynamic work conditions. This form of pressure is acceptable because it models a worker to be alert, learn, work, and become motivated depending on personal attributes and availability of resources.
However, the pressure within the context of this interview is one that is considered excessive and unmanageable resulting to stress. The generated stress then impacts negatively on worker’s health, performance and organization productivity. In contrast, most managers are unwilling to invest in employees’ health terming it luxury. This situation is a real chicken and egg analogy! Where employers want workers’ to deliver more yet they are not ready to invest towards their comfort (McShane & Travaglione, 2005).