Human Resource Management: Challenges and Strategies

Introduction

The objective of the paper is to highlight the extensive practice of assessing stress risk and managing it within the organisation context. Employers and employees must work together to bring out psychological risks and solutions for minimizing the risks in the workplace. Stress at the organisation refers to the hostile reaction to excessive pressures and demands placed on people. Work-life balance policy compliments the stress management policy because it allows employees to reduce their work burden and recalibrate their life routines to keep up with both work and personal life demands (Banfield & Kay 2008).

The paper aims to show that work related stress and work-life balance requirements depend on organisational contexts (Ananthram 2013). Management of the two human resource issues depends on personal characteristics of employees, the work, and the department within the organisation. Administrative practices and policies, and any contradictions of the organisation with societal norms all contribute to disharmony at the individual and organisational levels in various ways (Briscoe et al. 2012).

Organisation change is one of the critical stressors for employees because it disrupts routines and renders many aspects of policies irrelevant. Therefore, it is important for management to shift employee welfare orientations accordingly and swiftly to ensure that employees do not lose any of their non-monetary work benefits without earning equivalent replacements (Baruch et al. 2013).

Stress management policies help to attend to quality of work issues, which are now the conventions of organisational behaviour research. Although that has been a number of researches done on aspects of employee health and welfare, the research findings, theoretical underpinning on stress and its management either take a general sense, or they are too specific to an organisation such that can only be partially applied to other related situations (Brewster et al. 2014). The essential method of dealing with stress in organisations is by coming up with precise varieties of stress and their consequences (Bratton & Gold 2012).

Stress management policy

Burnout relates to stress reaction whose dominant characteristics are exhaustion and cynicism. These usually arise when there are chronic organisational stressors. Burnout often leads to job dissatisfaction, employee turnover, and decrease in quality of work. It may also show up as unwanted behaviours such as alcohol and drugs misuse or unwanted health conditions like physical and mental disorders. When the work related stress is too much, it ends up manifesting as emotional exhaustion.

After identifying the types of stress in the organisation and their possible solutions, the next task is to highlight barriers for reducing work related stress for subsequent correction. Organisation change and lack of organisation capability are the biggest barriers to implementation of stress management policy.

The stress management policy recognizes employee as the most important assets of the organisation. In addition, the well-being of employees dictates their ability to provide the high quality service. The policy’s objectives are to monitor and access all stress indicators and then manage effectively the return to work for all employees who have missed work, or attended to work assignments half-heartedly. Every aspect of the policy leads to an action that reduces pressures, which caused stress. The interventions can be by the organisation on behalf of staffs, or it could be by the staffs themselves (Boella & Gross-Turner 2011).

The responsibility of the policy falls on the company, but its implementation requires the cooperation of all department heads, line managers and employees. Department heads have to implement the policy for all employees that are under them in the organisation structure. The heads conduct risk assessments periodically and bring out any stress related issues to the management board meeting (Grande 2008). The heads also work with the company leader to ensure that mechanisms for prevention, control and reduction are working as intended. Each department requires work practices and designs that slow down stress formation in employees and it is the duty of department heads to oversee the employee involvement in work and stress management interventions.

Line managers ensure good communication exists between management and staffs. They also address all issues of harassment and bullying in their discretion and may refer to their superiors and other company policies for guidance. Line managers access the level of training for staffs to ensure it matches their job responsibilities. They ensure that staffs are taking their full holiday entitlements and address work problems caused by staffs that have stressors arising from outside the work environment. Line managers recommend staff development opportunities to department heads and they nominate staffs in the selection process.

On their part, employees give managers advice on the stress policy and they assist in implementation by presenting the required information about absenteeism, sickness, job attitudes and other stress manifestations. The employees’ responsibility is to accept the opportunities for assistance related to stress, such as counselling. They have a shared responsibility for identifying stress and raise issues promptly.

Coordination of the policy improvement and implementation falls in the jurisdiction of the continuous improvement team that consists of nominated staffs from various departments and ranks in the company. The team secures resources, identifies priorities, monitors, evaluates progress, and benchmarks results of the stress management policy.

Work-life balance

Generally, the employer does not have to provide work-life balance to employees, but it is essential to provide the support needed by employees to find their personal work-life balance. Good employment choices lead to recruitment and retention of the best talent in the labour market. The work-life balance policy does not explicitly dictate what employees have to do. Instead, it provides avenues for fitting personal responsibilities within the available work hours. It is upon employees to plan their times appropriately and use the available avenues to generate as much free time as possible for their personal needs. The policy has limits that prevent customers from abusing its provisions.

The work-life balance applies to all employees as long as the policy is applicable to their job assignments. The policy offers employees the ability to manage their life responsibilities and other activities in addition to their work. It works through schemes that cover both family and personal circumstances. The policy implementation has to take place consistently for the organisation and its employees to realise full benefits.

Employees are free to request career break as long as they demonstrate they will be back at work as agreed. However, each application for a career break depends on its particular case and the operation or business needs of the company. The break does not exceed a year, with the minimum time being two months. On their part, employees have to give management a three-month notice. The second scheme of the policy is about flexible working patterns. Here, the company uses a flexible work schedule for employees. Employees have to ensure that they finish their assignments in time without disrupting the workflow of their colleagues and the company’s operations. However, staffs must also demonstrate the number of hours worked for them to qualify for hour-specific wages and other benefits. Employees are entitled to compressed hours where they squeeze their duties into shorter times and create additional free time for their personal responsibilities. The company only allowed up to five hours of compressed time and not less than that because it would conflict with the company’s stress management policy.

The compression of hours and other optional workflow arrangement to employees must be compatible with client needs. However, department managers must also ensure that client needs do not infringe on the ordinary workflow schedules for employees. When employees are returning to work from extended leave, they may ask for special return to work arrangement where their workloads are adjusted to give them time to fit into the organisation company once again. Under employee health and wellbeing, the policy is committed to the provision of support systems that promote employee health. Thus, there are adequate provisions for allowing sickness absence without discrimination (Bratton & Gold 2012). The company extends its medical cover for employees to their immediate families and allows employees time off whenever their children or spouses are admitted to hospital.

Monitoring of the policy happens consistently through various feedback tools such as the collect of information about absence from work, requests for special work arrangement and complaints about any aspect of the policy. Review of the policy takes place after two years and involves a general survey with all employees as participants.

Summary/Conclusions

Both stress management policies and work-life balance policies are essential for an organisation to maximize employee input at the most affordable cost. Stress in the organisation mainly arises from unreasonable demands by job assignments, management and employees who are over-estimating their personal abilities. In handling stress, management must realise that it cannot address all kinds of stressing situations effectively, thus the principle of the stress management policy is to reduce the overall stress level for employees, and not necessarily eliminate it. On the other hand, work-life balance policy must have limits to the provisions available to employees so that they do not end up neglecting work or personal life responsibilities.

The work-life balance policy works together with the stress management policy and any other human resources policy in the company. Therefore, the policies must not contradict each other. In addition, the extent of their applicability to specific situations will depend on the rank and job description of the affected employee and the needs of the organisation. In the case of the stress, management policies, employees have an obligation to participate in the stress-relieving interventions provides by the firm. On the other hand, under the work-life balance policy, the employees must use up a minimum number of opportunities within the policy to ensure that they are not overworking themselves.

Review of policies must happen periodically and should rely on learned best practices and feedback from all the stakeholders. Success in policy implementation arises when there is voluntary participation and commitment by all employees. In this regard, management benefits most when it engages all employees in awareness programs about the policy intentions and the objectives of the organisation. Having explicit aims and principles of the two policies and their subsequent communication to all the involved parties is one of the best approaches to use for any firm.

Recommendations

The new employees must involve the employee’s trade union when formulating and updating the work-life balance policy and the stress management policy. Issues relating to the union directly affect employees and their ability to concentrate and fully commit to their work assignments. It would be helpful to also look at external factors to the business and their impact on employee performance and then use the objectives of the firm to decide whether they are opportunities to harness or threats to avoid.

  • All policies used by the company must work harmoniously to ensure that the organisation reaps the maximum benefits. The best way is to evaluate all policies using the same team and at the same time to realise any inconsistencies and correct them.
  • In addition, the new employers must identify the most prevalent stressors in their organisation before coming up with a stress management policy. Failure to do this might lead to the formulation of a policy that is out of touch with the predominant human resource needs.
  • It may not be possible to have a policy that matches all departmental needs in the company; thus, management should consider having a new policy that is an amalgamation of several policies for related departments.

Reference List

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Banfield, P, & Kay, RK 2008, Introduction to human resource management, Oxford University Press, New York, NY.

Baruch, Y, Dickmann, M, Altman, Y, & Bournois, F 2013, ‘Exploring international work: types and dimensions of global careers’, The International Journal of Human Resource Management, vol. 24, no. 12, pp. 2369-2393.

Boella, M, & Gross-Turner, S 2011, Human resource management in the hospitality industry, Routledge, Oxon, OX.

Bratton, J, & Gold, J 2012, Human resource management: Theory and practice, 5th edn, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, NY.

Brewster, C, Bonache, J, Cerdin, J-l, & Suutari, V 2014, ‘Exploring expatriate outcomes’, The International Journal of Human Resource Management, vol. 25, no. 14, pp.1921-37.

Briscoe, D, Schuler, R, & Tarique, I 2012, International human resource management. 4th ed., Routledge, New York, NY.

Grande, F 2008, The intranet and human resources: internal employee communication, University of Nebrasaka Press, Omaha.