Actions to Prevent Stress-Inducing Patient/Client Behavior
In order to reduce stress-inducing patient/client behavior, procedures should be implemented to curb the negative consequences of such behaviors. This applies in particular to those occupational groups that work directly with patients/clients/customers. In an effort to contain this type of behavior, the organization should provide workers with periodic training on coping with hostile patient behavior, offering guidelines such as:
- • allow the patient to vent her/his anger verbally without being interrupted,
- • maintain visual contact,
- • do not criticize the patient or this type of behavior at this point,
- • do not embrace the patient’s negative emotions,
- • do not laugh at the patient,
- • do not assume that the patient is motivated by hostile motives, but assume that he/she is explaining matters important to him/her,
- • let it feel like you understand the patient’s complaints,
- • if possible, offer help.
When aggressive patient/client behavior is frequent, management should prepare, familiarize, and implement procedures to prevent it. These procedures should include, for example, rules for cooperation with security staff, covering staff procedures, security measures to increase the distance between staff and patients, etc.
Actions to Reduce Interpersonal Conflicts at Work
Interpersonal conflicts at work are an example of social demands relating to the quality of relations between workers. The essence of these is heavy interactions with managers and co-workers, at a varying degree of intensity - from minor quarrels to mental struggle [Spector and Jex 1998]. Interpersonal conflicts can take different forms - open (e.g. open criticism, depreciating comments) or hidden (e.g. spreading gossip) and active (e.g. arguing, offensive statements) or passive (e.g. ignoring, deliberately not answering phone calls).
The present study results have shown that in the residential care home employee group the incidence of gossip significantly (/? < 0.01) correlates with workplace bullying (0.28).
In order to reduce conflicts between workers, the following actions are recommended:
- • developing clear procedures for reporting and handling of worker complaints,
- • management participation in conflict resolution, negotiation and mediation training courses,
- • ensuring that workers participate in interpersonal training courses on communication skills and assertive behavior,
- • building a psychological contract and introduction of the planned employee rotation system, enabling teamwork (in various personal configurations), based on direct contact and cooperation,
- • ensuring that managers at all levels are trained on how to prevent and minimize interpersonal conflicts at work.
Actions to Strengthen Job Control and Social Support
The current research has revealed that social support received from management correlates significantly (p < 0.01) with development opportunities (Spearman’s p = 0.25), work engagement (0.28), and social climate (0.31), while co-worker social support correlates significantly (p < 0.01) with development opportunities (0.28), work engagement (0.25), social climate (0.62), and job satisfaction (0.29), as well as depression (-0.26) and cognitive stress (-0.22). Job control correlates significantly (p < 0.01) with development opportunities (0.40), work engagement (0.34), social climate (0.35), and job satisfaction (0.33). For most personnel working with patients/ clients, social support reduces the negative impact of stressors at work on mental health and job burnout [Baka 2013]. Therefore, stress prevention programs should aim not only to directly reduce the harmful effects of stressors, but also to strengthen organizational resources (e.g. perceived social support and job control) and individual resources (e.g. positive perception of individual effectiveness, sense of coherence, optimism). Job security and regular social support at all levels enhance worker confidence in effectively coping with problems at work, and promote an optimistic perception of reality. Comprehensive organizational resources (e.g. strong social support) are conducive to the development of individual resources.
The following are examples of potential actions to increase social support at work:
• providing training to management on the role of social support in the workplace and its benefits, e.g. increase in job satisfaction levels and, as a result, increase in employee work engagement and commitment to the organization, and reduced job burnout levels,
- • interviewing managers and employees about the role of peer support in coping with stress,
- • increasing the availability of “support networks” at work, e.g. greater employee access to senior management,
- • organizing self-help groups.