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Stress – The silent Killer

SHARE   |   Monday, 04 June 2018   |   By Isang Lekhutile The Workplace

The past weekend I had memorable and absolutely fantastic time with one of my childhood friends. He was celebrating reaching yet another age milestone of living on this beloved planet called earth. Undeniably, life is more than worthy to be cherished, celebrated and painstakingly count your successes despite how trivial they may be. Of essence, life’s achievements should not be defined and measured relative to the successes scored by your colleagues in your generation. Instead, it should be acknowledged and appreciated in terms how fulfilling it is. Therefore, there is no criterion set in stone to measure success in life. Hence, trying to practically measure is tantamount to a task in futility and not worth pursuing.

Indeed, I had a great time reminiscing on enjoyed moments we shared with my childhood friend since knowing each other some years back. It really downed on me that the life sweet and sour memories made life an enjoyable enigma. Therefore, life should not only be lived, but enjoyed and celebrated as well to its fullness. In short, celebrating life is how as individuals uniquely paint the colourful canvases of our lives. This comes as a great relief to our ever-hectic myriad of demands of this 21st century.


Reflecting on the past weekend’s events, it evoked and energised me to the need to manage stress through celebrating the bright things that life offers us. I found that to be a great antidote to acute stress associated with our lives in every facet of life. Stress is a spoiler. It robs our happiness and the need to appreciate our blessings and successes in our lives. Stress breaks down individuals both emotionally and physically. The nature of work has changed considerably in many sectors of industry over the past decades and has caused unimaginable stress levels to the employees due to lack of security for the jobs on offer and also the ever changing work environment that is making employs redundant. Those that have managed to hold to their jobs face challenges in the form of failure to match constantly changing skills sets and the associated information technology advancements threatening the same jobs. As a result, stress has become commonplace yet probably the most elusive enemy in the workplace. It is a serious and a growing problem.

Stress is a highly personalised phenomenon. There is no single way to measure it – the one thing we can measure is the cost of stress. Just my 10 Thebe thought, not all the stress, which affects people at work, is attributable to the workplace. Some people though believe that home and workplace interface in contributing to stress levels. Pressure at the workplace is unavoidable due to the demands of the contemporary work environment. There are times when one should admit that you cannot control everything in your work environment and you cannot always avoid the tensions that occur on the job. My weekend out with the boys made me realise the importance of health and work-life balance.


World Health Organisation (WHO, 1986) defines work-related stress as the response an employee may have when presented with work demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope. Some researchers have indicated strong correlations between dimensions of workplace, stress, and job satisfaction. What can employees learn and do to manage the stress?


Some experts suggest that part of the stress on the employee is due to role pressure and role ambiguity. Quah and Campbell, 1994 defines role ambiguity as the lack of clear and specific information regarding work role requirements. According to Manshor et al (2003), role ambiguity arises when a person does not have a clear picture about his work objectives and the scope and responsibilities of his own job as well as his co-workers’ expectation of him. Role pressure is the influence and pressure particularly from superiors to the junior employee. In most cases, the role pressure is directed toward the accomplishment of formally specified responsibilities and objectives.

I had an interesting chat with one Treasurer of one local main church. Her stress form was mainly the role ambiguity issue. Where does her role start and end. One friend of mine who is an Accounting officer expressed her frustration of her job mainly from unclear role expectation. She was sent to collect and drop letters around Gaborone – imagine how frustrating this is to a professional who is supposed to be doing accounting work. Understanding what your role is and objectives in any position, be it at church or work, is very important.


Literature has established the relationship between work stressors and role ambiguity and pressure. Researchers agree that work stressors are made up of role ambiguity and role pressure. Organisations and employers need to define the lines and roles of employees. Another intervention to manage role ambiguity is constant conversation and feedback during work which will minimise the mentioned concerns.


It is my belief that the best way to address role ambiguity is to conduct a purposeful induction that covers even the expectation of the organisation, department and individual. Management should provide exact definition and description of jobs for employees. It is important for management to employ individuals according to their expertise and abilities. With regard to role pressure, planning and effective is the best weapon to minimise role pressure. Commit to realistic targets and do things first time right. Truth be told, there is no work workout pressure. After all, no pressure, no diamonds!

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