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Getting Stress Levels Wrong Is Very Costly

Overdoing stress in the workplace is very expensive because of all the negative things that flow from it, says Dr Alison Drewry, a senior lecturer in occupational medicine at Auckland University and Surgeon Commander of the Royal New Zealand Navy at Devonport.

Dr Drewry is a key speaker at what is believed to be New Zealand's first conference focussing on stress this Thursday and Friday, February 24th and 25th and organised by the Employers and Manufacturers Association (Northern).

"Stress can make you a bad manager and an unpleasant work colleague," Dr Drewry said.

The main issue for business is that it is reflected in dollars on the bottomline, through three different responses; physiological, psychological and behavioural.

"All of these things eventually, or even immediately will impact on work performance.

"The worst tasks are the monotonous ones that require a high degree of vigilance, for example sawmilling.

"Numerous studies have linked perceived high stress levels with increased accident rates and stress is often cited as a contributory factor in high accident workplaces.

"Though the risk of being prosecuted for excessive workplace stress is low at present, there are rumours that compensation for non-injury related stress will be introduced," Dr Drewry warned.

"Unfortunately that would be expensive and I don't think it would solve the problem as you can't legislate for good management.

"If you get stress just right there is an element of tension and challenge in the job which creates a feeling of alertness and vigour. To do this you want your system to be safe, for the workplace to be adequately resourced, and you want to put in training and education because that is where your leadership and work atmosphere comes from.

"You want to make sure everybody feels capable of doing their job. When someone feels they don't have the experience, the skills or the training, that's stressful. If it's within their capabilities, it's a challenge, but an enjoyable challenge."

ENDS

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