The Cost of Stress – the Need to Monitor and Manage the Risks!Written by Graham Yemm
How much attention is paid to one of biggest underlying risk factors within an organisation – effects of stress? Not only are there a lot of potential risks arising from spread of stress within an organisation, it costs them a great deal of money!!
Let us start with looking at some hard-nosed numbers (based on UK.).
Had enough of this? Moving on to think about risk of unmanaged stress to organisations we can start by looking at “knock-on” risks.
- The CBI estimate that there is a cost of £4bn per annum to industry as a direct result of stress related absence.
- This figure can rise to over £7bn when you consider loss of productivity!
- A recent survey by HSE indicated over 550,000 cases of absence as a result of stress, depression and anxiety.
- A further 66,000 were absent with heart problems as a result of stress.
- There was a loss of nearly 13m working days in total.
- The average absence was 28.5 days for stress-related issues.
- 1 in 5 believe that their job is extremely or very stressful – that is 5 million people!
- Up to 40% of absence is related to stress.
- When stressed, performance can be reduced by up to 70%
- The CIPD estimate that stress costs industry £522 per employee.
Where an organisation is suffering from stress problems there will be a number of probable consequences, all with ensuing costs to business. Also, what other risks might they contribute to?
When we take into account figures and also these probable knock-on effects, it makes sense to think about managing organisation in a way which will reduce potential impact of stress. Indeed, that is a key part of one of HSE initiatives and introduction of their “Management Standards for Stress.” Although these are not compulsory in themselves, there is legislation around it! There is duty of care and responsibility attached to managers as part of Health and Safety legislation. This means undertaking risk assessments, creating a positive environment and managing work activity to reduce stress and pressure at work.
- If atmosphere is getting worse there will be an increase in staff turnover. The costs of this are often overlooked or hidden behind some spurious justification. What is direct cost of recruiting replacements? Oh, and indirect costs? What is cost of loss of experience and expertise? Staff turnover disrupts business in many ways and reduces profitability. Simultaneously, costs will increase too!
- When individuals are suffering from stress their work performance is likely to deteriorate. The quality of decision making will go down, possibly with faulty judgements being made. What is risk to organisation of this? It is probable that rate of casual errors will increase too – with what consequences?
- The relations between people will be effected, for worse! As communication, support or teamworking deteriorate then people will not enjoy coming to work and levels of commitment are likely to reduce. This will probably mean that customer service gets worse too – again, with what consequences? (This will also apply to internal customers as well as external.)
- As people become less motivated, and even demotivated, their productivity goes down and impact of that is………?
Before going further into these, let us consider what is meant by this word, “stress”. The HSE define it as “the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressure or other types of demand placed on them.” A simpler option is to think of it as “the internalisation of pressure – where it exceeds your ability to cope.” When we hear people say things such as “We all need some degree of stress”, what is really being said is that we need some level of pressure to galvanise us to action. These pressures can come from all sorts of sources in a work and personal lives – and within ourselves too.
The figure below, “The Pressure Curve” shows what we mean by this. If amount of pressure is not high enough, we do not feel need to respond and so performance is likely to be down. (Wonderfully called “rust out” in certain circles.) Have you ever gone into a shop, restaurant or somewhere on a very quiet day? What was response and service like? This end of scale can lead to problems from boredom level!
Get pressure “right” and we are triggered to respond in most effective way – and will operate at our “optimal performance” level. Moving along towards end, pressure levels increase and when this is too much response is what most people think of as classic stress problem, “burn out”
This rarely just “happens” suddenly. The pressures build up, symptoms will become more and more obvious, physiological and behavioural clues will be more noticeable. If situation does not change, and pressure become more manageable, person who is at this end will probably start to become ill as body sends out signals to say it needs to protect itself against this burnout.
The challenge facing managers with this concept is to identify what is “optimal” amount of pressure for each person in their team. We each interpret pressures in different ways. What one of us may shrug off, another will think of as a crisis and vice versa. Add to this, we all have various pressures influencing us which are external to our work. These can range from personal relationships to financial, environmental to practical such as travelling. Then there is human capacity to create pressure on ourselves through having unreasonable expectations or by finding things to worry about over which we have no control! How well do managers know their team members to assess their personal “negative” and “positive” pressures?
Tips For Maintaining Client RelationshipsWritten by Erich Heintz
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Title ----- Tips For Maintaining Client Relationships Customer Relations Is Not Just A "Sales" Function ------------------------------------------------------ Consulting is a service business and engineers, administrators and technicians are heart of it. Sadly, too many of us see customer relations as a “sales” function. While sales department can be very effective at generating leads and performing a lot of up-front work that initiates a customer relationship, long term success depends highly on implementers themselves.
Repeat Technology Services Business -------------------------- Much of repeat business that I get from clients comes not from “sales” beating them down with phone calls and emails, but by clients approaching me directly to satisfy newfound needs.
I’m proud to say that I have clients who refuse to deal with our sales department for any function other than signing contracts. These customers are no longer looking to be “sold” solutions; they come to me specifically to “buy” them.
If you are content with perpetual strings of one-off projects you can stop reading here. My focus is maintaining long standing relationships that produce reliable revenue streams.
Don’t Be A Drone ----------------------------------- Too many consultants show up, drop in a solution and leave, making no effort to establish a relationship with their client. Get to know client and their business. Showing an interest in client’s work can not only help you develop a rapport, you may learn something as well. Being able to show up at a site, ask about client’s family AND being able to address their kids by name will help establish you as more than just “computer guy”. The “computer guy” is generally about as memorable as “phone guy” or “cable guy”. Be Flexible ---------------------------------------------- Very few consultants are so good that they can get away with a “my way or highway” attitude. There are a few out there and if you think you are one of them you probably stopped reading by now.
As a solution provider, your first effort should bring to your customer best fix for their problem. Whether that fix is hardware, software, policy or procedure, there are almost always client considerations you weren’t made aware of during design. Budget usually lands at top of that list.