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Water Newton, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom, 2008/11/16 - Yet according to Prof. Colin Coulson-Thomas workplace stress can be reduced by adopting a new approach to making it easier for people to do difficult jobs.
Stress at work can be reduced even when difficult jobs have to be done in limited time according to Professor Colin Coulson-Thomas. Speaking at a CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) event he showed personnel practitioners how the jobs of front line staff can be made less stressful.
Corporate responses to the credit crunch and economic down turn are putting people under greater pressure. According to Coulson-Thomas, “Just when family budgets are being squeezed companies are restructuring and introducing changes that cause anxiety and stress. Yet by the time many of these change programmes have delivered the world will have moved on, and precious experience and expertise may have been lost.”
The Adaptation chairman believes, “It need not be like this. Smart companies look for cost effective ways of helping their people and building their capabilities. Stress at work can be reduced, responses speeded up and performance greatly improved, even in the case of difficult front-line jobs.”
Coulson-Thomas explains, “People dealing directly with customers and citizens are often required to quickly understand complex situations and develop a bespoke response. The penalties for failure may be high, particularly where they are operating in a regulated sector and under pressure to increase their performance”.
Some are at breaking point. Coulson-Thomas finds: “Far too often performance improvement is a question of speeding up the treadmills people feel they are on and requiring them to do more with less. Many corporate responses are limited to addressing symptoms rather than the root causes of stress such as the difficulty of doing many jobs against tight timescales.”
Coulson-Thomas believes: “Many directors and boards may be leaving themselves open to future claims for compensation by not adopting known ways of making it much easier for people to understand complex issues and do difficult jobs. Pioneering companies use a new generation of support tools to help staff handle such situations”
The Adaptation chairman favours cost effective ways of making front line jobs less stressful: “Building controls and enablers into the processes and support tools used by key workgroups can allow their users to quickly design a bespoke solution for a particular customer without breaching a quality, regulatory or cost requirement.”
Coulson-Thomas suggests: “Boards should ensure people with difficult jobs are given appropriate support. Directors wishing to increase personal fulfilment at work should explore how support tools that increase understanding of complex issues, boost productivity and make it easy for people to do difficult jobs can also reduce stress.”
Examples of how job support tools can be used to make it very easy for average performers to adopt winning ways are given in Prof. Coulson-Thomas’ book ‘Winning Companies; Winning People’ which can be ordered from Policy Publications.
The event at which Prof. Coulson-Thomas spoke was organised by the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) and held in The King’s Room at The Angel and Royal Hotel, Grantham, the oldest Inn in England, dating from 1206. The purpose of the event was to share the experience of recent projects to significantly improve the performance of key work groups while at the same time reducing people’s stress in the workplace.
Professor Colin Coulson-Thomas is chairman of Adaptation and author of ‘Winning Companies: Winning People’. He has reviewed the processes and practices of over 100 companies, helped over 100 boards to improve board and/or corporate performance, and spoken at over 200 national, international and corporate conferences in 35 countries.