252 Tackling work-related stress factors in local self-government through action research methodology

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Abstract

Introduction

Job demands/resources model of stress assumes that every occupation has its own specific risk factors associated with work-related stress. Action research (AR) allows bottom-up approach where company staff in collaboration with researchers, identifies the most important issues for change within organisational setting, develop, implement, and evaluate context-specific solutions. The aim of the study was to analyse work-related stress factors (job demands) and to draft organisational interventions using AR within local self-government.

Methods

AR as a collaborative process (problem identification, planning, implementation, evaluation, and reflection), involving representatives from both self-government and Institute of Occupational Health of RM, was used to generate knowledge and practical solutions to work-related stress factors in local self-government. Actual AR included qualitative study based on focus group (FG) methodology (two FGs, 10 participants in each) with workplace stressors as a main topic of discussion. Within quantitative part of the study, 100 self-government employees (response rate over 80%) completed surveys (including instruments for measuring job demands and burnout). After planning organisational interventions aimed at tackling emerging work-related stressors, evaluation and reflection phase included collection of outcome and process data.

Results

Actual study detected the most important work-related stressors in this self-government (FGs: work in ‘ocean’ type office, client-related workplace violence, performing several tasks at a same time; Questionnaire data: too much paper-work, low opportunities for professional development, strict hierarchy). Burnout was detected in 17% employees with significantly higher emotional exhaustion in financial sector (12.04±4.7) than in fire department (7.3±3.8) and communal works (5.8±3.9) (F=3.55; p=0.011). AR team proposed several organisational interventions, including reduction of paper-work, new staff employment, team building activities, communication skills training, redefinition of quantity and quality of workplace tasks, etc.

Discussion

Presented AR process is still ongoing and cyclic and includes follow-up activities that are accessible and auditable to team members and other employees.

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