Improving Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace


1. Discuss the employers’ obligations and liabilities in respect to Alex’s ability to perform her job. You should make reference to health and safety legislation.
2. Identify and evaluate HRM best practice strategies for managing alcohol and stress in the school. You should make reference to both formal and informal ways that employers might use to deal with this issue.

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 Stress is referred as a physical response and under its condition the body releases a complex mixture of chemical and hormones to prepare the body for the action of physical work and include itself in a flight mode. By increasing absenteeism level it can affect the place of work, it can also cause friction between the colleagues and leads to loss productivity. Because of stress at workplace many of the individuals start alcohol consumption and there is no such law is present which covers stress at work. Very few laws are available or cover the health issues such as Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the 1996 code of practice of the international labour office (ILO) for alcohol related issues, Work Act 1992 and The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulation 1999.

1. Understanding employers’ role, obligation and liability:

Alex was a good cook and was very professional at her work but suddenly started coming to the workplace by drinking alcohol; this may be due to a stress of work.  It is not only an ethical thing to do, but it also helps out to improve the environment. In the case of Alex, who is drinking alcohol, may be suffering from stress and should be helped by her employer as well as the colleagues. In Alex condition, she might deny that she has such kind of problem and be skeptical about offers of help. In such case the employer should be open to talking with and discuss the problem with the employee, can also talk to stress management organization to improve the condition of the employee. Harmful drinking has great significant economic and social costs to the workplace, initially or primary leading a result of lost production (Chaisty, 2006). Some losses in productivity can be attributed to drinking on the job, but drinking outside the workplace also lead to loss productivity (Gibson, 2014). As Alex was taking alcohol regularly there was a productivity loss in her workplace. Employees like Alex who report to the workplace may be less productive than usual. The effect of reporting to the workplace with a hangover may include lower output, feeling sleepy, poor work quality, etc (Moore et al., 2007). Due to the work stress, alcohol consumption or dependence rate has been increased nowadays. The potential loss of productivity that results because of alcohol consumption, employers have some responsibilities towards their employees for the sake of the wellness (Pendleton, 2005). Productivity and worker satisfaction can be increased by improving safety and health in the workplace and by reducing the cost of healthcare. While few are required or necessary under the most condition at the minimum level but others may be not required in every case or may be difficult to apply. Government also plays a role in restricting the alcohol consumption at workplace or reporting to the workplace after alcohol consumption, which includes calling for an  of alcohol-free workplace or prohibition against intoxication at the place of working, like U.S occupational health and safety administration resources are provided for the employees to develop individuals policies at the place of work(Samuels, 2005).

On handling drug and alcohol related issues, the 1996 code of practice of the international labour office (ILO) has established a set of some guidelines, valid for all type of the employees. The code discuss alcohol as a major problem for health issues and employers are recommended to emphasize prevention, serve and offer help to the employees  those who need it the most such as Alex. The employers are also suggested to cooperate with the employees in the development process of alcohol-related policies. Employers can implement certain policies that exist to prevent the employees from coming to the workplace in a drunken state. It Effective handling of the employees such as Alex with the alcohol problem is enabled through employee assistance programs. Employee assistance programs can direct or help employees having mental health issues or behavioural issue to the appropriate providers. Employers also should follow some policies to make the environment or workplace better which includes that the employer should be consistent with the alcohol regulation and labour laws, should developed trade unions with input from representatives, should provide proper standards of conduct, can address the problem of alcohol as a health issue etc. In this case Work Act, 1992 can be implemented, and the operator of the system should exercise all due diligence to avoid Alex being unfit. Some employers decide to adopt the screening process of alcohol as a part of their alcohol policies, but alcohol screening by itself is not a complete solution of the problems caused by alcohol misuse. Labour Government Strategy Unit, in 2003, during the preparation of National Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy made an assessment of alcohol as an major issue at workplaces, in which it was concluded that alcohol consumption at workplace or coming to workplace by drinking lead to the loss of productivity for the nation as well as loss of opportunities for the individuals for getting employed.  However, according to the section 2 of the 1974 Health & Safety Act, and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulation 1999 are the most conversant pieces of the legislation of U.K as the issue of alcohol misuse at the work (Howes, 2009). If the employer knowingly allows Alex to continue her job or working by consuming alcohol, then the other employee at the workplace are at risk and the employer could be prosecuted. At this condition, the other employees need to take care of their selves. As per the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 is to secure the welfare, health and safety of the employees and other individuals at the workplace, to reduce or eliminate the risk, source to the health, to offer for the engagement of the employees, employers and the persons representing or involved in the organization in the formulation and implementation of health (unite health and safety guide, 2011). To ensure the health and safety of the employees at work is the primary duty of the employers which is also included in Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999(Reynolds, 2011).

2. Understanding and identifying companies best practice and how to avoid future issues:

Many human resource management practices are used by the organizations to identify and manage stress. Nowadays stress in the workplace is inevitable and has to be dealt with cautiously. Work place stress is a matter of concern as it causes many health hazards like fatness, aches in different body parts and many other such diseases and hence nowadays the management is concerned and giving due importance to help the employees manage stress (Mondy, R. and Mondy, J. 2014).

Hans Selye, first defined stress in the year 1936, as the response that a human body shows towards any change in the situation; this response is non-specified. Stress can be good or bad. If the individual in experiencing stress due to some good news or a new challenge, then it will be termed as good stress. Bad stress is caused by any bad news, tension at work or home, unhealthy working atmosphere and so on. Stress can be due to psychological problems, organizational level problems such as poor working conditions; poor relationship with the colleagues, adjustment problems, high-stress jobs and sometimes organizational policies and procedures also causes stress.

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The stress management society has put forward the ‘bridge analogy’ where there is an image of bridge overloaded with vehicles. The bridge is showing the signs of stress by bending, cracking at places and finally will collapses. Similarly, a human being is compared to the bridge. Overloaded with work it will show signs of stress like anger, addiction, losing interest in work, underperformance and then collapse when the individual is unable to take the further pressure (Ugoda, M. 2012).

Stress management plays a very important role in job satisfaction as well. The work-life balance is very important for an individual as the imbalance leads to stress.

The percentage of people consuming alcohol is increasing day by day, and the common excuse given by alcohol addicts is that they consume alcohol as a means to deal with their stressful lives. They believe that consumption of alcohol relieves them from their pain. (Stone, R. 2014).

According to the given case study, the situation is a complex one. The SBM that is the School Business Manager cannot allow any alcohol addicted employee to enter the workplace as it will be detrimental towards the other employees as well it is unethical also. Hence, Alex should be allowed to continue to work in the similar manner. The manager should first ask Alex and try to collect first-hand information from the person himself about whether he is addicted to alcohol or not, and if he is, then what is the reason behind it and even make efforts to solve it so that Alex can be relieved from stress.

It has been mentioned in the case study that two members of the primary school kitchen have been on leave for long-term illness and because of which the workload of Alex has increased, this may also cause stress. The manager should immediately look out to recruit two people on a temporary basis, or may share his load equally with the other cooks and provide them certain incentives or reward them in some other manner. Rewards help to motivate employees to work harder and help in reducing stress. (Aranga Nathan, R. 2011)

The human resource strategies that help reducing stress can be defined as follows –

  • Certain strategies are problem focused or rather problem specific; they are dependent on a particular situation. Although every problem has a different perspective and hence needs to be solved accordingly
  • Job rotation helps reducing the stress level. Sometimes the same job may seem to be monotonous, and a shift in job helps in rejuvenating energy within the individual.
  • Relaxing and exercising helps to reduce stress. Exercises’ especially yoga exercises relieve an individual from the day-to-day tensions. Yoga should be done on a regular basis to get the maximum level of benefits. Although this method should be applied on, an individual basis to relieve stress and can be advised by the management (Pepper, D. and Brebbia, C. 2012).
  • The working environment should be made friendly enough so that the employees feel free to share their problems with others and helps to handle the complexities of the job with much ease.
  • Assigning jobs to candidates should be done very carefully and efficiently as a wrong job, the profile can lead to dissatisfaction and discontent, which may cause stress.
  • Team building must be encouraged in organizations as a rigid, and strict work environment is the major cause of the stress of the employees. Working in groups increases cooperation and collaboration among employees, as we know that groups and not individual are the building blocks of an organization (Dessler, G. 2013).
  • Employees should be provided with all the facilities within the organization and if possible even outside the organization.
  • Mentoring also helps reduce stress. Seniors and experienced members of the organization can mentor the new entrants, help them solve their problems and provide them guidance whenever required (Pipkin, S. 2012).
  • Certain recreation programs time to time also help to reduce the stress of the employees. Certain employee assistance programs also provide free counselling from the specialist within the organization.
  • Proper and open communication should be encouraged within the organizations

Apart from implementing the above mentioned strategies, the manager should on a regular basis check whether someone is drinking or using any unethical means or not within the premises of the school, either he or can even appoint someone to do the job (Pekruhl, U. 2013).

Conclusion and recommendation: Various conclusions can be drawn from this incident or scenario on work stress and use of alcohol. Firstly, it can include that sources of the pressure in the work role and the source of the stress represent the consolidation of work or family roles. Secondly, evidence is developing the work stress or family issues responsible for the use of alcohol. Finally, despite a continuation of overreliance on the cause-effect model, clear pictures exist towards the improvement and development of more sophisticated models of work pressure and alcohol consumption. The management of the school should frame new rules and regulations to deal with the problem mentioned in the case study and also related problems in the future. The strategies mentioned above should be implemented in the school, at least some if not all. The whole staff should be made aware of the change in the rules and regulations of the organization. Employees possessing great potential should be treated with dignity and respect within the organization. The manager should make sure that none of his employees are under stress at least due to organizations rules and regulations and the working environment of the organization. The employees, on the other hand, should abide by the rules and regulations of the organization and also make efforts towards building a healthy relationship with other employees. Every employee should feel free to communicate his or her problems or issues with the manager. These were some of the recommendations for the school management.

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