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Saturday, 2nd December 2023



Stress at work is a very common and costly problem.

There are many reasons and causes. One of the fundamental causes is a crisis of values - the employee may have a different set of values from the employer. A survey has shown that nearly 60% of workers in Britain suffer from such stress.

Let me explain. A family man would have strong values of sharing, caring and loyalty. However, at work, the culture may be very different - the same person may be expected to be selfish and materialistic and be rewarded for doing so. A salesman is a classic example of this. Also the employer may not give loyalty - if performance is poor, it will be quick to fire.

This causes a conflict, insecurity, and hence stress. No amount of physical fitness and aerobic exercise or diet can remove this stress. It can cause a mental health breakdown. At the very least, in can cause a lot of unhappiness for the employee, and the performance would undoubtedly suffer. It is therfore critical that employees are clear about their values and understand the impact this identity stress can have on their health. Employees should seek to work for organisations where their values are aligned - this is likely to lead to happiness and satisfaction and better preformance.

An extreme example of this is the contrast between working for a public organisation and a private organisation. In theory, a public body has a strong sense of civic and public values, and commercial performance is not critical. A private corporation would be much more commercial and less civic.

There are today some private sector organisations which are embracing civic values by practicing what is known as 'corporate social responsibility' - examples are Sainsburys, BT, Barclays. They want to care for their workforce and their society and have values which are aligned to this.

We encourage both employees and employers to think about their values, and act on them. Pure greed and selfishness are not sustainable in the long run for any person or organisation. Material rewards may bring temporary fulfilment but are not a permanent panacea for all ills.

Article added on 29th December 2009 at 3:27pm
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