Does work-related stress help some employees perform?

WITH year-end hitting many organisations during the last month, stress levels have been at a high level.

Research has shown stress can be detrimental to the health and productivity of employees, but is all stress inherently bad?

Data from the Kenexa Best Workplaces Survey 2012 shows 64 per cent agreement from employees that the level of work-related stress they experience is acceptable.

Some people say stress helps them work better and motivates them to "go harder".

If an individual sees a difficult task as challenging rather than stressful, they will be motivated to complete it and find the experience less stressful.

As a manager it is important to ensure people are able to cope with the stresses of their job and still produce quality work.

If we consider the Job Demands-Resources Model of burnout we see two important factors influencing work-related stress: job demands and the resources employees have at their disposal to achieve them.

Four common job demands are whether employees feel their workload is too high, their environment is unsafe, the systems or equipment they need to do their job are working or their work-life ratio is balanced.

Four common job resources are ensuring employees feel they have control over their work, take part in decisions that affect their job, are given regular feedback on performance and have support from co-workers.

However, the Kenexa High Performance Institute's WorkTrends survey 2012* showed it's not a simple one-for-one exercise, with job demands tipping the scales with a ranking of 67 per cent relative importance to work stress compared with job resources.

Managers will want to ensure they are providing enough resources to balance job demands.

Framing difficult tasks as challenges and enabling employees with the resources they need will allow them to continue performing to the best of their ability.

* WorkTrends is an annual survey of employee engagement, performance excellence and managerial effectiveness -

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