ManagingStress in the Military
ManagingStress in the Military
Today,the average adult has so many responsibilities. Theseresponsibilities range from meetings to be attended, pending tasksand appointments. According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, theaverage adult spends most of his time in the work place (Bureau ofLabor Statistics, 2013). As such, they are more likely to bestressed, while at their workstations. The military is no exception.Once in the military, the soldiers are supposed to serve theircountry on a 24-hour basis and as such, they are even more likely tosuffer from workplace stress. It is important for their superiors totake steps that will help the soldiers to cope with workplace stress.
Accordingto the Center for Disease Control, workplace stress is the negativephysical and emotional effects that occur as when the capabilitiesand resources at the disposal of the worker do not meet therequirements of the job. There have been comparisons made betweenworkplace stress and workplace challenges. The latter, gives theemployee a source of motivation as it gives the employee a platformthrough which they can acquire new skills (CDC, 1999). Once thechallenge is overcome, the employee will have a sense ofsatisfaction. However, workplace stress on the other hand, makes anemployee feel exhausted and defeated. This can be demotivating andcan affect the productivity of the employee and ultimately affect theproductivity of the whole organization.
Workplacestress can have both psychological and physical toll on an employee.The physical effects include conditions such as ulcers and heartattacks. Research has shown that stress can have a negative effect onan individual immune system. High stress levels weaken the immunesystem, making the individual to be at a higher risk of sufferingfrom common illnesses (Maxon, 1999). The employer on the hand, willexperience lower productivity and higher health care cost. It isestimated that about 60% of all lost working days are related toworkplace stress (Maxon, 1999). Mitigating work related stress shouldbe one of the main priorities of any employer considering thenegative effects it has on the organization. Workplace stress varieswith careers. Doctors may be stressed in the case of an emergencywhile an engineer may be stressed due to working with dangerousequipment. However, some of the common sources of workplace stressinclude conflict with the supervisors, unclear work expectations andtension among the employees. This paper will discuss the prevalenceand effects of workplace stress in the United States of America army.
Stressin the military
Likeany other profession, workplace stress is prevalent in the UnitedStates military. There have even been suggestions that military menand women are at a higher risk of suffering from workplace stress dueto the nature of their work. In the year 2002, a research wasconducted which aimed at establishing sources of workplace stress inthe military and the relationship between workplace stress andemotional health of the military personnel. The conclusion of theresearch was as follows:
“Morethan one-quarter of this sample of military personnel reportedsuffering from significant work stress and a significant number ofthese individuals suffered serious emotional distress. These resultssupport previous research suggesting that work stress may be asignificant occupational health hazard in the U.S. military”(Pflanz & Sonnek, 2002).
Emotionalstress can lead to low productivity. Due to the nature of their work,this may put the lives of civilians and fellow military men at risk.This stress may further be exacerbated because military men cannotresign unlike other professions. As a result, the individual has tofind a way of dealing with this stress.
Militarymen and women devote their lives to serving their country. This meansthat they work 24 hours a day and 7 days in a week. They are notallowed to leave military bases as they wish and have to seekpermission in order to leave the military bases. Furthermore, thepermission is granted only on special and emergency cases. It isimportant that their superiors take note of any cases of workplacestress and try to get the cause of the problem and learn how tomitigate the issue.
Beingable to understand the causes of stress among the military personnelis the first step in mitigating work related stress in the military.Military personnel are trained thoroughly and are never to compromiseon their performance. Such conditions can be stressful, particularlyif they have to be met daily. Military personnel do not get enoughtime to spend with their families. This is not easy for most of themand they end up being stressed. The family of the individual willalso not be spared and they will be stressed up for not seeing theirloved ones as often as they would wish and this adds more stress tothe men and women serving in the military.
Itis expected that the military personnel be able to handle the stressthat comes with their duties. They cannot just resign from themilitary without giving a valid reason. Those who would wish to havetheir issues addressed by their superiors feel ashamed of beinglabeled weak, particularly due to the fact that military personnelboasts of having both physical and mental strength to handle almostanything that comes their way. Due to stigmatization, most members ofthe military shy away from seeking help for their superiors. Thismeans that will have to suffer alone.
Therehave been efforts by the military to address work related stress andthis point to the fact that their superiors have acknowledged thatwork related stress is an issue. The Naval Center for Combat andOperational Stress has been established to teach Marines how to dealwith combat related stress (Cragg, 2008). Training is offered beforeand after the completion of any deployments. This is a huge steptowards mitigating work related stress in the military however, morestill needs to be done, as there is always room for improvement.
Amore proactive approach
Inorder to effectively deal with work related stress, there needs to bea clear channel of communication. Junior members should be able toapproach their superiors to have their workplace related issuessolved. Confidentiality should be of the utmost of importance whilealso ensuring an open door policy is implemented. This can go a longway in mitigating work related stress. Superiors should also ensurethat they evenly distribute duties among their members and avoidburdening one individual with a lot of duties.
Superiorsshould also be on the lookout for any signs of work related stress.They should ensure that they spot any cases of work related issuesand deal with them effectively. All superiors should undergo trainingon how to deal with work related issues. This will go a long way inmitigating work related stress and illnesses (CDC, 1999).
Likeany other profession, work place related stress is an issue in themilitary. It may have both physiological and physical effects on themilitary personnel. As such, as the military has put in place a unitto help deal with stress among the military personnel, however, amore proactive approach needs to be implemented. The superiors shouldbe trained in identifying and mitigating workplace related stress. Itis also important that equality be promoted at all times,particularly when allocating duties. There also needs to be a culturechange in the military to put an end to issues of stigmatization ofthose who seek assistance from their superiors.
Bureauof Labor Statistics. (2013). Americantime use survey.Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/tus/.
CDC.(1999). Stress…atwork.Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/99-101/.
Cragg,J. (2008). Stressmanagement important throughout military careers.Retrieved from http://www.defense.gov/News/NewsArticle.aspx?ID=50767.
Maxon,R. (1999). Stressin the workplace:A costly epidemic. Retrieved from http://www.fdu.edu/newspubs/magazine/99su/stress.html.
Pflanz,S., & Sonnek, S. (2002). Workstress in the military: Prevalence, causes, and relationship toemotional health.Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12448610.