The National Institute of Mental Health and Neurological Sciences recently announced their development of a unique tool to measure work-related stress. Employers and employees can make use of the tool to gauge and understand employees’ levels of stress relating to the workplace.
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A group of researchers from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurological Sciences, India, have developed a tool called the TAWS-16 (Tools to Assess and classify Work Stress), which is a simple questionnaire that can be filled out by employees to assess their levels of stress related to work. It was developed by Dr. Gautham Melur Sukumar and his colleagues.
Dr. Sukumar and his colleagues stated that work-related stress is one of the main causes of the manifestation of non-communicable diseases (NCD) such as diabetes, mental illness, and hypertension. Therefore, it is high time that a tool is made to screen employees for work-related stress.
Work-related stress is any kind of psychological or psychosomatic discomfort experienced by an employee, due to causes that can be cited using the workplace.
Although work-related stress is experienced by all professionals, it is said to be particularly high for those working in the Information Technology (IT) industry.
Stress has become a major cause of disruption in industries and workplaces. Excessive work-related stress can lead to resignation by employees, as well as a lack of productivity in companies. On a personal level, stress compromises the body’s immunity and makes one vulnerable to disease. Heart and blood sugar as well as blood pressure-related problems are notoriously known for being linked to stress. Moreover, mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression are bound to develop if an employee undergoes severe stress.
Many companies are or have already made use of a diverse range of tools to assess stress in their employees, but the TAWS-16 exclusively measures work-related stress.
The TAWS-16 questionnaire contains questions regarding the working environment, such as deadlines, supervisory support, multi-tasking, and so on.
It effectively measures different categories of work stressors related to the employee’s role in the organization, career development, organizational environment and support, and work-life balance. Apart from this, the questionnaire measures the employee’s ability to cope with stress and psychosomatic (psychologically related physical problems such as headache, fatigue, disturbed sleep, etc.) disabilities.
The questionnaire is available in the form of a mobile phone app and an accessible link. It will take the participant 5 minutes to fill out the simple questionnaire to gauge their levels of work-related stress.
Validity of The Tool
The process of the development, validity, and need for this questionnaire has been documented in a research paper titled ‘Face, content, criterion and construct validity assessment of a newly developed tool to assess and classify work-related stress (TAWS- 16)’, written by Dr. Gautham and his colleagues.
The validity of the questionnaire was tested with the help of analysing data from 356 Information Technology employees. The developers of the scale found that the questionnaire had a good face, content, and construct validity.
Where Do We Go from Here?
Screening employees is not enough. The results must be analyzed and employees must receive assistance in stress management, depending on the severity of work-related stress.
If an employee’s stress is mild, then they may make use of counseling services for any additional help that they may require to keep their stress levels in check. If their stress is found to be moderate, they may have to undergo a stress management program. As for employees that are found to be undergoing severe stress, they may have to seek clinical consultation as soon as possible and their situation is not to be taken lightly under any circumstance.
So far, ten companies have made use of the TAWS-16 questionnaire to screen their employees for any work-related stress. The team of researchers who developed the questionnaires are planning to make them available to many companies for free.
The tool is the first one of its kind in India. With the help of the TAWS-16, companies can screen their employees and make changes in their policies and work environment, to assist employees in lowering their levels of stress at the workplace.