Job stress can increase the likelihood of employees making mistakes, performing poorly at work, experiencing mental health problems, suffering from burnout, and encountering conflicts in the workplace. The human resources (HR) department plays a crucial role in supporting employees by implementing measures to reduce both day-to-day stress and long-term stress in the workplace.
One of the fundamental principles of human resource practices aimed at reducing workplace stress is the implementation of wellness programs. These programs are intended to assist employees in managing their personal lives and reducing stress both at home and in the workplace. However, research indicates that wellness programs that solely focus on physical health do not result in improved health outcomes or long-term cost savings. There is a common suggestion that a holistic approach that addresses five key elements of well-being, including career, social, financial, physical, and community aspects, is essential for promoting overall thriving. Additionally, critics argue that such programs may yield less impressive results in the short term.
Human resource managers have implemented flexible working arrangements as a means to alleviate employees’ scheduling challenges. For example, allowing flexible work hours and other arrangements can help reduce work-related pressure on employees. Hybrid working, which was expected to offer increased flexibility, has been contradicted by recent reports and studies. These findings suggest that hybrid work may be more emotionally taxing than purely remote work or a full-time office job, potentially due to the barriers that may arise between those who prefer working in an office and those who prefer working from home, leading to impacts on team dynamics, job opportunities, and job stress. However, there are reports claiming that the benefits of hybrid work so far include improved work-life balance, better time management, increased control over work hours and location, mitigation of burnout, and higher productivity. Hybrid work allows employees to work in a way that is most effective for them, providing flexibility in their work approach.
Coaching is essentially a process that empowers individuals with the tools, confidence, knowledge, and opportunities needed for effective self-development. Organizations commonly utilize coaching to enhance competency and job performance or to increase motivation and job satisfaction. Stress management coaches evaluate each employee, collect critical data to understand their needs, monitor their progress, and identify and clarify their goals. They then work closely with employees to create an action plan to achieve those goals and provide support for reassessment and readjustment as needed. Studies examining managers who received coaching for a year found that coaching improved their stress management skills, work-life balance, and psychological stress. However, there are factors that can hinder the effectiveness of coaching, such as time constraints, loss of motivation, and unexpected life events. Some argue that coaching itself may even potentially cause stress.
Workplace stress management programs aim to help employees identify signs of stress and other mental health issues in the work environment and provide them with skills to offer support to their colleagues. Individuals who are experiencing the negative impacts of stress and want to learn how to effectively manage it in their work and personal lives are advised to attend stress management training, which is typically based on cognitive behavioral theory. Studies have shown that job stress management training packages can be effective, with a reported effectiveness rate of 67.5%, and the training effect can be stable for up to two months. However, while stress management training is generally effective, it can worsen existing problems for some individuals. Therefore, employers should be aware of individual differences and reactions to training rather than considering it as a one-size-fits-all approach.
In conclusion, despite various general human resource practices observed in different industries, there are limited common initiatives for “stress prevention.” During the project’s lifetime, the partnership aims to create an innovative training course with experiential training activities to help both employers and employees combat work-related stress and burnout and provide modern and easily accessible tools for preventing them.