Stress Management in IBM Corporation

Question

Stress Management

Utilizing independent research and course materials, locate an organization that has implemented a stress management program. Compose a 4-6 page paper in which you detail the components that the program provides to employees. What additional components would you, as a consultant, suggest to the organization (provide business reasons and cost-justification for your proposal)? Compare the organization’s stress management program with how other stress models might be implemented

Sample paper

Stress Management in IBM Corporation

As stress levels increase among workers, it is becoming imperative for organizations to develop their own stress management programs geared towards enhancing the mental welfare of their employees. In most organizations, stress management aims at equipping workers with skills to enable them perform in high-pressure environments. As such, majority of these programs aim at developing resilience among employees and in improving their productivity. There are a number of benefits associated with corporate stress management and resilience training programs. Organizations benefit through increased productivity of employees as well as reduced stress management costs. To the employees, the program improves productivity and their health through reducing stress. This paper will examine stress management in ABM Corporation and recommend additional components that may make the program more effective.

IBM Corporation is one of the organizations that have implemented an effective stress management program. IBM’s stress management program dubbed “IBM Fitness2live” provides stress management training and resilience building among employees. This program provides a number of components to employees. First, the program teaches employees to recognize stress symptoms and their effects on personal well-being. Second, the program enables employees to identify their personal stress triggers. Third, the program equips employees with knowledge and skills to handle to manage their stress in a productive or healthy way. Fourth, the program aims at enabling employees live a healthy lifestyle. This is through training on proper dieting techniques and regular physical exercise. Fifth, the program enables employees to adopt effective coping strategies during their stress management. Lastly, the program equips employees with self-awareness, enabling them to recognize when the need arises to seek professional counseling help.

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In order to effectively enable employees lead healthy lives and improve productivity, the Fitness2live program emphasizes on twelve key themes. The program teaches employees on key themes such as recognizing stress, working on stress, relaxation techniques, eating habits, alcohol and substance abuse, speaking out, staying connected, rest & play, and among other themes. IBM’s Fitness2live program uses highly trained and qualified counseling experts and medical practitioners to deal with employee challenges that emerge in the workplace. A major objective of the program is to build resilience among employees to stress and lifestyle diseases. This is by equipping employees with knowledge and skills to deal with stress inducing factors in the environment and lead healthier lifestyles through dieting and physical exercise. The Fitness2live program has greatly transformed the lives of many employees suffering from stress at the corporation.

The current stress management program implemented by IBM is not inclusive to cater for all mental health and personal issues that may affect employees. The program overemphasizes on workplace stress management at the expense of other serious personal issues that may affect employees. In line with this, there are a number of additional components I would suggest to the organization. First, there is need for introduction of components that can help employees manage anxiety and depression. The current program focuses on stress management, ignoring the negative impacts of anxiety and depression too employees. According to a report released by the National Institute of Mental in 2008, about 40 million adult in the U.S. suffer from anxiety disorder, which makes it the most common mental disorder (as cited in Nash-Wright, 2011). According to ADAA, there exist a close relationship between anxiety and depression, with about 50% of individuals suffering from anxiety disorder also having depression.

Anxiety disorders are costly to manage. According to ADAA (2015), treatment of anxiety disorders in the U.S. costs about $42 billion annually. The high cost of anxiety disorders also impact organizations. The report notes that individuals suffering from anxiety disorder are five times more likely to visit a physician. In addition, there is a higher chance of hospitalization due to psychiatric disorders compared to those who are free from anxiety disorders. This means that organizations incur higher costs in form of anxiety disorder treatment for their employees. According to a study conducted by the ADAA (2010), 56 percent of employees claimed that anxiety affects their workplace performance, while 51 percent cited that it interfered in their relationship with peers and coworkers. This indicates that anxiety disorder is a serious and costly issue affecting most employees in organizations. There is need for developing cognitive-behavioral therapy programs, which are effective in altering the behavior patterns of employees.

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It is important to introduce a component that deals with prevalent family problems that affect employees in the workplace. A rising challenge facing most employees today is elder care. This is due to the aging Baby Boomers population (those born prior to 1964), and the increasing need to provide care to them. As such, majority of people in the current workforce are facing new challenges with regard to elder care. According to Schulz & Sherwood (2008), individuals who take caregiving roles experience stress and may lead to psychological strain in the long-term. Stress from family negatively affects employees’ performance in the workplace. About half of employees who experience family problems transfer the family stress to the workplace, which negatively affects their productivity. This leads to reduced productivity. There is need for organizations to provide training on such family issues that have the potential to affect employee performance. As a larger population becomes aged, the employees will continue to face family related stress challenges.

IBM Corporation’s stress management program can be analyzed in relation to other stress models. IBM’s stress model aims at dealing with stress as it occurs among employees. As such, the model aims at ensuring treatment rather than prevention. Other stress models aim at targeting the organizational stressor factors that contribute to stress among employees. The stimulus-based stress model is one of the stress models that aim at identifying the stressor factors or life events that contribute to stress (Kottler & Chen, 2008). The models aim at establishing the organizational related stressor factors and establishing ways to eliminate them. Common stressor factors in the organization include issues to do with promotions, rewards, relationships with peers and others, organizational structure, and stressors related to the job. Other stressor factors relate to family problems such as grief, elder care, violence, childcare, and others. The Transactional Model of Stress can also be implemented in this case. This model emphasizes on the role of cognition in stress management (Kottler & Chen, 2008). Individuals go through primary and secondary appraisal phases, which enable them to evaluate the nature of threats facing them and possible remedies respectively.

In conclusion, Stress and resilience training addresses a number of key aspects in the workplace such as adapting to rapid change, conflict resolution, and customer service. Stress management in the organization is currently a critical role for organizations to partake. Stress management programs can help improve productivity of employees and the entire organization in general. Majority of employees cite stress as the main reason for their poor performance.

References

Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). (2010). Highlights: workplace stress   & anxiety disorders survey. Retrieved from https://www.adaa.org/workplace-stress-   anxiety-disorders-survey

Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). (2015). Facts and statistics. Retrieved             from https://www.adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics

Kottler, J. A., & Chen, D. D. (2008). Stress management and prevention: Applications to daily    life. Australia: Thomson/Wadsworth.

Nash-Wright, J. (2011). Dealing with anxiety disorders in the workplace. Professional Case             Management, 16(2): 55-59.

Schulz, R., & Sherwood, P. R. (2008). Physical and Mental Health Effects of Family        Caregiving. The American Journal of Nursing108(9 Suppl), 23–27.             http://doi.org/10.1097/01.NAJ.0000336406.45248.4c

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