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Work-related Stress assessment : an organizational approach

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Some issues on practical application of WrS assessment in italian enterprises are pointed out, from the specific point of view of a private-held company dealing with consulting and training on safety at work.

Results from statistical analysis (conducted on a sample of 1.274 workers from 10 companies in Services; Health Care; and Industry sector) are also discussed.

Published in: Health & Medicine
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Work-related Stress assessment : an organizational approach

  1. 1. Work-related Stress assessment: an organizational approach. G. M. Vecchio 1 , S. Fiaschi 2 , F. Pacelli 2 , E. Pacelli 3 1 Sapienza Università di Roma - Facoltà di Psicologia 2 2 Eco-Format S.r.l. - Roma 3 Eco-Consult S.r.l. - Roma
  2. 2. Questions about Work-related Stress <ul><li>is it an organizational or individual phenomenon ? </li></ul><ul><li>should it be assessed via objective tools or using social research methodologies ? </li></ul><ul><li>workers participation : extended or limited to key roles ? </li></ul><ul><li>which professional should carry out the assessment ? </li></ul><ul><li>… what could be the benefits of assessing WrS (beside fulfilling a legal obligation) ? </li></ul>Introduction
  3. 3. European Framework Agreement on WrS <ul><li>Assessing Work-related Stress entails investigations on : </li></ul><ul><li>organization and its processes (working time arrangements, degree of autonomy, match between skills and job requirements, workload, …) </li></ul><ul><li>work environmental conditions (exposure to abusive behaviour, noise, heat, dangerous substances, …) </li></ul><ul><li>communication flows (uncertainty about what is expected at work, employment prospects, or forthcoming change, …) </li></ul><ul><li>and subjective factors (emotional and social pressures, feeling unable to cope, perceived lack of support, …) </li></ul>Introduction
  4. 4. Organizational Context , Job Content <ul><li>Adapted from : European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (2002) </li></ul>Introduction
  5. 5. Why an organizational approach ? <ul><li>We are dealing with a systemic phenomenon , concerning </li></ul><ul><ul><li>«aspects about the design and management of work and its social and organizational contexts that have the potential for causing psychological or physical harms» (Leka, Griffith, & Cox, 2003) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>WrS assessment should be focused on the relationships between individuals and their organizational contexts , in order to identify factors promoting “ Organizational Health ” </li></ul>Introduction
  6. 6. <ul><li>« The whole of organizational culture , processes and practices in workplaces contributing to promote, maintain and improve the quality of life and the degree of physical, psychological and social communities health » (Avallone, Paplomatas, 2005) </li></ul><ul><li>“ Healthy” organizations provide: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>comfortable work environments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>higher work-safety awareness </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>collaboration and efficiency </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>management of internal conflicts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>clear goals, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>openness to innovation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>organizational equity </li></ul></ul>Organizational Health Introduction
  7. 7. Guiding principles <ul><li>Orientation to universal prevention </li></ul><ul><li>Participation of all members to the survey </li></ul><ul><li>Contextualization of research </li></ul><ul><li>Internal cut-off scores </li></ul><ul><li>Multidisciplinary approach </li></ul>Assessing WrS
  8. 8. A six-step model <ul><li>1) Start-up and Desk Analysis </li></ul><ul><li>sharing procedures and tools with stakeholders </li></ul><ul><li>data collection about company structure and functional processes </li></ul><ul><li>activities to inform and involve all workers </li></ul><ul><li>reconnaissance of the company departments </li></ul><ul><li>2) Questionnaire administration </li></ul><ul><li>collective sessions </li></ul><ul><li>stringent consent procedure on privacy </li></ul><ul><li>sealed envelopes </li></ul>Assessing WrS
  9. 9. <ul><li>3) Preliminary results </li></ul><ul><li>results from statistical analysis discussed in aggregated form </li></ul><ul><li>focus on critical issues and areas to be deepened with workers </li></ul><ul><li>4) Qualitative analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Focus Group sessions with workers </li></ul><ul><li>homogeneity criteria of professional roles and representativeness of company departments </li></ul>A six-step model Assessing WrS
  10. 10. <ul><li>5) Risks Evaluation Document for WrS </li></ul><ul><li>criteria and tools used </li></ul><ul><li>complete findings </li></ul><ul><li>corrective and/or improvement actions </li></ul><ul><li>dissemination strategies </li></ul><ul><li>6) Follow-up </li></ul><ul><li>monitoring the implementation progress of the proposed actions (six months later) </li></ul>A six-step model Assessing WrS
  11. 11. Objectives The study
  12. 12. Measures <ul><li>MOHQ - Multidimensional Organizational Health Questionnaire (Avallone, Paplomatas, 2005) </li></ul><ul><li>109 items (4-point scale) assessing behaviour and situations perceived in work contexts, each related to a dimension of Organizational Health. </li></ul><ul><li>Risk factors </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Perception on Interpersonal Conflicts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Perception of Stress </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Perception of Psychosomatic Symptoms. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Protective factors </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Work Environmental Comfort </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Work Environmental Safety </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Perception of Management Efficacy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Perception of Relationship with Colleagues </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Perception of Company Efficiency </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Perception of Organizational Equity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Perception of Innovation Openness </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Job Satisfaction </li></ul>The study
  13. 13. the Sample The study
  14. 14. <ul><li>significant Gender and Age differences were found in all Organizational Health dimensions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>women (regardless of age) and older workers (regardless of gender) experienced higher levels of all Risk factors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gender and Age were included as covariates in all subsequent One-Way Univariate Analyses of Covariance (ANCOVA) </li></ul></ul>Gender and Age differences Results
  15. 15. <ul><ul><li>workers in Large companies experimented higher levels of Risk factors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>workers in Small companies experimented higher levels of Protective factors and Job satisfaction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>workers with higher Working seniority experimented higher levels of Risk factors , but a better Environmental conditions perception </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>workers reporting effective Management Efficacy and better Relationship with Colleagues experimented lower levels of Risk factors , higher levels of Protective factors and Job Satisfaction </li></ul></ul>Organizational Context impact Results
  16. 16. <ul><ul><li>workers in Health Care sector experimented higher levels of Stress </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>workers in Industry sector experimented better Environmental conditions (followed by Services ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>workers in both Industry and Health Care sector experimented higher levels of Company Efficiency and Innovation Openness , and higher level of Job Satisfaction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>workers with a perception of bad Environmental conditions experimented higher levels of Risk Factors , and lower level of Protective Factors and Job Satisfaction </li></ul></ul>Job Content impact Results
  17. 17. Outcomes for WrS assessment <ul><li>By law, the Risk Evaluation Document on Work-related Stress must provide a series of recommendations on corrective and/or improvement actions to prevent or reduce accidents on workplaces . </li></ul><ul><li>Information gathered by this model can provide to the top management further indications about organizational development strategies </li></ul>Conclusions
  18. 18. Paths of organizational development <ul><ul><li>Management of communication flows to bridge the gap between processes, &quot;who directs“/&quot;who is directed”, and improve integration </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>effective Human Resources Management Systems to achieve higher level of organizational equity and organizational commitment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>coherent Corporate Training Plan , aiming all training activities to a common goal of promoting Safety culture and organizational citizenship </li></ul></ul>Conclusions
  19. 19. Advantages <ul><li>Findings can easily be translated into specific measures to prevent and protect the whole company and homogeneous work groups from psycho-social risks, giving insights on even wider organizational development strategies </li></ul><ul><li>This model can be adapted to specific situations , yielding proposals that fit the actual conditions of each company </li></ul>Conclusions
  20. 20. Limitations <ul><li>Difficulties in dealing with bureaucratic approach to safety and organizational health issues </li></ul><ul><li>Still not able to find effective alternatives to the in-presence questionnaire administration which can protect the participants’ privacy and ensure the effective involvement of workers and the quality of data collected </li></ul>Conclusions
  21. 21. <ul><li>Corresponding author : </li></ul><ul><li>Stefano Fiaschi </li></ul><ul><li>email : [email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>web : www.eco-format.com </li></ul>Thank you

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