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While psychologists remain divided whether ‘workplace stress’ is caused by workplace experiences or other factors, it’s commonly accepted that, regardless of cause, people experiencing stress can demonstrate decreased workplace performance. From a human performance and productivity perspective, from whence stress arises is somewhat irrelevant–the relevant fact is that it’s far more important to have systems and procedures in place to contribute to avoidance of undue work environment caused stress. It is also important to identify when an employee is exhibiting signs of stress than it is to focus only on remedial measures for when stress effects have already taken their toll on a person. Many organisations engage external service providers to deal with management of stress effects on people. It has not been clear how many organisations engaged in construction or project management address workplace environment as a potential causal factor in stress as part of organisational risk management. This paper focuses more on what leading construction and project management organisations are doing (and according to benchmark practice, should be doing) to address the matter of stress impacts on employees from a three phase perspective–environmental stressors, management training to identify early signs of stress, and managing employee stress when it is clearly affecting performance. The paper also proposes an approach by which organisations in construction and project management can become more effective in this three phase approach to stress management in the workplace, based on a pilot study which is the basis of more in-depth research currently under way at Bond University.
This document has been peer reviewed.