Ripples Are Great for Chips, but Not for Employees



Many enjoy the salty, crunchy taste of a rippled chip. Ripple chips are just a little more dynamic than regular chips. While many relish this “ripple effect” in the world of potato chips, the ripple effect caused by workplace stress is much less desirable.

With the publication of numerous research studies on the negative effects of workplace stress on employee health, productivity, and motivation, there is now even more reason to reduce it and its knock-on effects. A current HRM online piece expands on the concept of workplace stress and how it spills over into an employee’s home life.

Click here to read the article.

The HRM online piece is derived from a study done by the University of Central Florida, which showed that, “employees who are mistreated at work are likely to engage in similar behaviors at home”.

This study goes on to state some simple ways to counteract this ripple effect. For example, it suggests that employees should engage in moderate daily exercise and develop a better sleep pattern.

Click here to read a brief summary of the research.

10,000 daily steps and 7 to 8 hours of sleep at night may reduce the risk of negative emotional reactions at home, but do these measures really get to the heart of the problem? Perhaps an organization should also look at the root causes of workplace stress in an effort to eliminate the ripple effect altogether, rather than applying the Band-Aid solutions of additional exercise and sleep. HR professionals must lead the charge in understanding the full range of effects of workplace stress, and in creating lasting solutions by decreasing stressors at their source.


Discussion questions:

  1. Research and identify the most common ways organizations attempt to reduce workplace stressors. Create a list of five of the most helpful interventions.
  2. Using this list, create a five-minute presentation to convince your VP of HR that your organization should implement a workplace stress reduction program.






Stress or Distress Which Is It?

When is stress good for your productivity?

Businessman stressed out at work in casual office

Stress, stressors, burnout, and conflict, these words are all too common in the workplace every day. There has been a lot of organizational research stating that stress in the workplace is killing us! But is it really? Maybe workplace stress is really not as bad as we believe it is.

Watch this video from Harvard Business Review, click here to open the link.

This video sums up a performance concept called the Yerkes Dodson Law, where an individual’s performance is based on a certain amount of stress.

The Yerkers Dodson Law states that stress is a variable and if there is not enough stress your performance may not reach a peak, if you have too much stress your performance will decrease. The amount of workplace stress an individual may feel is also dependent on the type of work being done. Some stress does help us focus and get things accomplished, especially if the work is not simulating. However, the reverse is true, if the work is complicated: too much stress will reduce your workplace performance.

The word stress does have a bad rap in the workplace, but perhaps we should chose more appropriate language to explain our feelings. At work we should use the word stress if it adds or sharpens our performance and use the word distress when the psychological pressure leads to poorer or impaired performance.

Like many things at work it will help if the HR department has a solid understanding of what can affect an individual or an organizations performance. We should not just use the word stress when we are feeling overwhelmed, but analyze all aspects before giving the emotional feeling a label.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Think about the last time you had a project at school or a task at work to complete and you felt stressed out? Was it stress or was it distress that you were feeling? Did the stress help you perform better or worst on the project or task?
  2. How would you present this concept of the Yerkers Dodson Law to a workplace that was saying it was stressed out?
  3. Research to see if there are any workplace stress tests that would be valuable for you to administer in the workplace as an HR practitioner