Stress Audit - Definition, Benefits, Outcomes


This stress audit overview from PGA Group Consulting Psychologists outlines the purpose, benefits and possible outcomes of the audit method and process. A picture is shown of the phases a typical audit may go through.

Several links to resources on this site, including a set of stress audit case studies are provided after the overview below.


Background

Occupational stress can result from a long-term failure in individuals to cope with perceived pressures or demands. Its effects can range from serious ill-health consequences to subtle, but equally damaging effects (including experiencing interpersonal difficulties, problems making decisions, making careless mistakes, and so on).

Failure to identify the presence of occupational stress and its causes, together with a failure to mitigate or remedy issues surrounding occupational stress may have several consequences for the employer.


Stress Audit Defined

A definition of a stress audit is that it is both a methodology and process of understanding the causes of stress, the adaptation or response to stress, and of identifying potential stress management techniques or a stress management strategy to use in particular situations or circumstances.

Addressed are the overall patterns of sources of stress, for example stress which originates from career progression, the job itself, the job role, company or organizational structure, interpersonal relationships, and the home/work interface.

The response patterns of individuals to the sources of stress which may be present and other potential stressors are examined. Potential remedial actions can be identified and an organizational response can be informed.


Benefits of Auditing Stress

The benefits of auditing stress include:

  • The organization is seen to address a difficult topic, directly and openly, thereby enhancing its reputation as a caring employer while discharging its duty of care.

  • Individuals are encouraged to talk: as a subject, ‘stress’ becomes valid (though the way in which it is talked about needs to be thought through carefully, for a number of reasons).

  • Long-term health and performance related issues may be identified and addressed.

  • Stress management interventions can be targeted to address specific needs, saving wasted effort and costs associated with addressing issues haphazardly.

  • Individuals and the organization can benefit mutually.

  • Change can be focussed on positive, efficiency enhancing practices.

  • Costs, especially ‘hidden’ inefficiency costs, can be substantially reduced.

  • The potential consequence costs associated with doing nothing may be avoided.

  • The benefits can be measured on a number of dimensions and a return on investment can be shown.


Phases of A Stress Audit:

Once the organization’s brief is understood and properly considered, an audit typically will have a life comprising of seven distinct phases:


Phase 1

The audit plan is carefully presented within the organization.


Phase 2

Background contextual information is collected, usually by interview.


Phase 3

Appropriate diagnostic measures are developed and selected; these focus on the causes and effects of stress, and intervening biographical and coping-related data (example self-report measures can be accessed on our public, free test site: Stress Tests - Real Tests Online .com).


Phase 4

The chosen diagnostic measures are deployed, as appropriate. Information collected from the returned diagnostic measures is analysed.


Phase 5

Participants are given individual feedback of the results at a personal level and in a confidential way.


Phase 6

A report of the audit findings, together with recommendations regarding appropriate remedial action is produced for senior management. Typically, the report would go on to address matters which the organization may wish to consider broadly when developing a stress management strategy or policy framework, for example.


Phase 7

Appropriate interventions or backup steps are implemented if required - introducing stress management programmes or counselling, for example.


The phases above represent those a typical stress audit may go through. However, the precise nature of a situation and the specific needs of the organization will dictate and inform the actual process to be followed.


The Outcome of A Stress Audit

The actions which can be taken following an audit usually will accord with the nature of the findings.

Programmes of stress management often include one or more of the following outcomes:

  • Career coaching.

  • Enhanced employee participation, especially in change processes.

  • Improvements in the physical work environment.

  • Improvements in the psychological climate of the organization.

  • Job redesigning.

  • Physical fitness or ‘well-being’ programmes.

  • Seminars on job burnout, helping employees improve their understanding of stress and its effects.

  • Role analysis workshops.

  • Working relationship/interpersonal communications improvement workshops (a particular specialism of PGA Group Consulting Psychologists).


Conclusion

Whether conducted expertly in-house, or by an independent professional specialist, a stress audit can benefit the organization, its employees and other stakeholders.

A planned approach to tackling change can be taken, and specific interventions can be made using the information an audit can provide.

The organization can respond to events and possibly discover untapped opportunities, rather than attempt to react to factors about which it is not fully informed.


Links

You may find this link on our published site, Real Tests Online .com to be of interest:

Stress Tests - Real Tests Online .com
Stress tests from Real Tests Online .com may help identify the presence and causes of stress and give advice on well being, stress management and dealing with stress.

You may find these links on this site to be of interest:

Stress Audit Case Studies - Successful Stress Management At Work
These stress audit case studies are about how the negative effects of stress at work were identified, addressed and relieved to the benefit of three organizations and their people.

Employee Counselling - Definition, Benefits, Outcomes
Helping improve the well-being and performance of individuals and mitigating liability and cost to employers.

Employee Attitude Survey Case Study - Performance Turnaround
This case study is about how negative performance factors were identified and addressed to the benefit of the organization and its people.

Organizational Benchmark Survey Case Study - Identifying Need
This case study is about how this process helped an organization to identify need, focus priorities and develop new business opportunities.

Other relevant site navigation links appear at the foot of this page.


I hope you have found this stress audit overview informative, useful and beneficial. It may be linked to or referenced freely. Please cite the publisher, PGA Group Consulting Psychologists at www.pgagroup.com.

Should you have any questions, or would like further information without obligation, my team and I would be very happy to help. Details and an e-mail form to contact/locate us can be found here: www.pgagroup.com/contact-pga-group.html

Peter Gerstmann
Principal
PGA Group Consulting Psychologists - www.pgagroup.com


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