Health problems and stress in information technology: Are you one among them?

Information technology in India has had a tremendous boost ever since the globalization of the Indian economy has taken place. With much expansion in IT industries, professionals are under constant pressure to deliver services efficiently with agility and cost-effectiveness. Regardless of health and mental issues employees are constantly under pressure by the industry to deliver results. Their diseases are either induced, sustained, or exacerbated by stress.

In addition to globalization, privatization has brought new work relationships, target-oriented work culture, job insecurity, rapid obsolescence of skills, and insecurity regarding future working conditions have brought more stress to employees. Strong demand over the past few years has placed India among the fastest-growing IT market in the Asian region.

Technostress is the modern disease recently used to explain the phenomenon of stress arising due to the inability to cope with new computer technologies healthily. To study technostress, a survey was conducted by the National Library of Medicine where IT employees were screened with stress scales with a complete primary checkup. The results were not only astonishing but gave an urgent alarm to bring reforms in the working of IT industries.

According to the results around 56% of employees were suffering from musculoskeletal symptoms which included cervical and lumbar strain with or without disc disease, polyarthralgia, muscle spasms, and heel pain. Around 22% had newly diagnosed hypertension, around 10% had diabetes, 36% had dyslipidemia, 54% had depression, anxiety, and insomnia, and 40% had obesity.

Around 67% of IT employees with health problems were men and 33% were women.

Studies have shown that employees with chronic work stress are more likely to develop metabolic syndrome than those with no stress exposure. Women with chronic work stress were over 5 times more likely to have metabolic syndrome than men. Let us see the various stages of work stress.

Euphoric stage:

This is an initial stage where an employee starts working in a new company. The excitement, enthusiasm, and pride of a new job soon meet with the challenges of dysfunctional processes in coping and adapting to the pristine environment.

Throttle stage:

Once adjusted to the unfamiliar environment going in full swing with the workload leads to depletion of resources, dissatisfaction with peers, overeating, sleep disturbance drinking, or smoking.

Chronic symptom stage:

Symptoms like physical illness, anger and depression arises due to constantly meeting targets and demand for completing the project on time.

Crises stage:

Over a long duration and persistence of symptoms diseases like chronic backache, headaches, high BP, and insomnia develops. This is the most critical stage as the mind and body cry for immediate attention.

Hitting the wall stage:

No human can continue to work under pressure for too long and may reach the end of one’s professional career. This is a critical stage for the company as the employee with much experience and firsthand projects quit the company suddenly which affects the agility and quality of the projects at a crucial time.

According to the Behavioral science and policy Association working long hours has shown to increase mortality by 20%. Companies are taking notice and getting more creative in the process of stress management among the employees. A few of the steps taken by the companies are.

Table of contents

  1. Steps to reduce stress at the workplace

  2. Delegate task to employee

  3. Automation of repetitive tasks

  4. Encourage workplace wellness

  5. Revamp the work area

  6. Flexible hours and remote working

  7. Encouraging social activities

  8. Relaxing time

  9. Providing online or distance counseling

  10. Recognition of employees

  11. Conclusion

Steps to reduce stress at the workplace

Delegate task to employee:

Many employees find it difficult to ask for help at the workplace. They are accustomed to following the work all on their own taking the extra burden. This in turn affects the health as well as the agility of the work. According to Harvard Business Review, the ability to delegate tasks efficiently and effectively is one of the largest concerns of the business organization. Remember no business can achieve success on its own.

Automation of repetitive tasks:

The biggest hurdle the employee faces at the workplace is the delegation of tasks. When a company does not have enough staff to delegate staff, the employee does not have enough time to take extra work, or the company does not have enough funds to recruit additional staff then automation of tasks becomes an important requirement. Automation like payroll, various accounting task scheduling, etc. can help the time and agility of the business.

Encourage workplace wellness:

Healthy living with exercise is the best weapon against workplace stress. They not only enhance mood but also decrease stress levels by increasing the production of endorphins.

  • Employees are encouraged to go on a walk during lunch break.
  • Subscribing gym membership for the employees.
  • Yoga session at office weekly or monthly once
  • Encouraging step contest among teams for those who own fitness trackers.
  • Healthy office snacks.

By taking these steps employees to feel valued at the workplace. A study by peapod.com reported that 66% of employees felt extremely happy when their employer regularly stocked the refrigerator and 83% said they were happy by having healthy and fresh snack options at the office.

Revamp the work area:

Revamping the work area with an interesting color theme, additional planets, connecting cubicle walls with others, or a nice coffee area will increase the mood of the employee. Adding a ping pong and foosball will allow employees to take off their stress during a busy schedule.

Flexible hours and remote working:

Allowing employees to work remotely and giving flexible time schedules will take off stress to a larger extent. employees travel from far ends to reach the office on time in busy traffic not only increases the risk of anxiety but also accidents. Employees should not feel the office like a cell, but a place that facilitates getting a job done. This freedom for employees is a great morale booster to the office, this policy shows the employees that the company trusts them enough not to babysit.

Encouraging social activities:

Encouraging social activities among coworkers to know each other by building communication and expectations will gear the wheels of interactions. Employees spend a lot of time together, the more comfortable they built their relationship the less stress they feel at work.

Relaxing time:

Avoiding stress at the workplace is not avoidable but alleviating it when arrives helps employees to overcome anxiety to a considerable extent. Research shows that more than 80% of disengaged and hostile employees prefer to have stress-relief opportunities. Building a small space or lounge space where they can take a nap, message or any kind of break will help them alleviate the stress for some time and continue with work with a relaxed brain and mood. This not only helps them to

Focus more on their work but also increases the productivity of the business. Employees are humans and taking care of human needs should be the priority of any organization.

Providing online or distance counseling:

The company should provide counseling sessions to employees to help deal with stress. Appointing a good psychiatrist to study employees’ mental health, their emotional levels, and review the past performance with the current will be an excellent idea to negate any negativity or trauma. Additionally, periodical health checkups with the family will bring a more positive impact on the employees towards the company.

Recognition of employees.

Recognizing and rewarding employees for their excellent work will result in a serious boost in engagement. Employees should be rewarded with a mindful consideration according to their personality and conduct in the company. Some employees appreciate a call or an email of appreciation while others prefer a flower Boquete or a simple card on their desk. This kind of recognition will make employees feel that the company is aware of their challenging work and are willing to share their success throughout the journey.

 

Conclusion

A study conducted by Yale University researchers found that when people have a cheerful outlook toward stress, they tend to perform better. Rather than thinking of stress as a limiting factor it should get recognized and embraced positively. Implementing various techniques by the company like yoga, social activities, mindful eating, counseling, improving work area, employee recognition, health plans, rewards, encouraging remote work, outdoor activities, and maintaining work and life balance will help employees in a long way to pursue their goals and work towards the development of the company and the society.

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