Employees and employers : how to manage the occupational stress in a situation of change ?

July 25, 2017 – Marion MORET – Right

Campus 2017 : Béatrice Brugués-Reix, a lawyer at Dentons, member of the Board of the bar association of Paris, and Adrien Chignard, a psychologist, held a conference on psycho-social risks, and more specifically, occupational stress in a situation of change within the company.

Occupational stress occurs “when there is an imbalance between the perception a person has of the constraints imposed by its environment, and the perception that it has of its own resources to deal with it,” according to the european Agency for safety and health at work. A state which has a greater risk of developing in the employees in a situation of change within the business (reorganization, relocation, change of structure, etc).

How to deal with these situations by channeling their stress ? And the employers ‘ side, how to put in place systems to prevent this risk and protect its employees ? All of these questions, Béatrice Brugués-Reix, lawyer at the Paris bar and a member of the Council of the Order, and Adrien Chignard, work psychologist, proposed to respond to the opportunity in the last Campus of the lawyers.

Stress, syndrome general adaptation

“Stress is the syndrome of general adaptation,” began the psychologist by quoting Hans Selye, the doctor is the pioneer in the discovery of the stress. This means that as soon as an element of the environment changes, the human body reacts by stress. In sum, ” change, adapt “, he says with accuracy. It explains that if stress is necessary to readjust to his environment, it is necessary to be careful to not be exposed for too long.

“Let’s put an end to a false debate : there is no good or bad stress ! It is as if one said that there is a good or a bad breath, it has no meaning because the two are reflexes physiological “. It is the duration and intensity of exposure to the risk of the work that should be monitored, both for the employer and the employee. The stress, linked to a great fatigue and a workload out of proportion, may in fact lead to burnout (see box).

“Let’s put an end to a false debate: there is no good or bad stress ! It has no meaning because it is a reflex physiological”

Decided to put an end to negative stereotypes about the work, the psychologist has continued its work on a topic mastered perfectly. “Already, the work is good for health. We know that people who work have better mental and physical health than those in inemploi. This means that the stress at work is the evil of the century, that there is a supposedly more and more of the stress factors. However, the content of the work does not change, it is the way we perceive it that has changed.”

The work takes up more place in the life of the French, with an increased difficulty to ” disconnect “. In sum, this is not about the work itself that the employer may act to enhance the quality of life at work of its employees, but on the conditions of its exercise.

The need of prevention

Initiating a component more legal, Béatrice Brugués-Reix said : “we know that this is not the change itself, which disturbs the employees, but the way in which it is accompanied “. It therefore emphasises the need for employers to do prevention.

First step, the business manager must make an assessment of psycho-social risks related to the project (learn about the situations, individual and collective, of each employee in order to know to what extent the project will impact). It must then create a single document in which all risk factors are listed in order to put in place the protection device. Third step, ask for a survey of the situation in the COMMITTEE to finally begin a plan of action. It is then eliminate the risks by putting in place the accompanying measures. Depending on the type of change project, what will be the consequences on the quality of life at work ? That put in place to accompany change ?

As a concrete example, in the case of social economy (PSE), this leads to a modification of the duties of the employee as well as a need to be more versatile. It may also feel guilty vis-à-vis his / her colleagues dismissed or resist change. To harness these reactions, the employer must put in place internal training (for the employee readjusts itself to the new situation of work) and individual interviews to discuss with him.

“If we say [to employers] that the prevention of these risks will enhance the work of their employees, to lead to a sustainable performance and profitability is considerable, it is interesting to them !”

Aware that the psycho-social risks and the suffering at work are not topics that are easy to treat, Adrien Chignard encourages lawyers to speak the right language with the business leaders. “If they said, health it is important, that nobody cares “, he joked. “On the other hand, if you tell them that the prevention of these risks will enhance the work of their employees, lead to a sustainable performance and profitability is considerable, there it gets interesting. “

The language of the employers towards the employees must be notified also : “say that we will put in place a mechanism to simply do not that the company closes, it has never excited anyone. It is necessary to make them understand that it will allow them to have a better quality of life at work “.

The issues of the prevention of what to do, think about it : less stress and illnesses such as burn-out, less work accidents and of litigation-judicial, for a better overall quality of life of employees and employers.

Burnout : an occupational illness is poorly known

Burnout is “the result of exposure to intense stress and an over-consumption of resources” of the sick person, according to the words of Adrien Chignard. It is not yet defined by the labour code, but its recognition was facilitated by a decree of 7 June 2016. The psychologist introduced the 4 stages of the disease which can lead to suicide of the person. It is, in fact, a form of severe depression and not a simple ” grosse fatigue “, as has been popularized in public opinion.

  • The antechamber of the burn-out is the ” burn-in “ : it is the person involved 120 % in his work, already on its reserves, but which continues to burn its resources. This is the person who is still on his place of work, whereas they should be part, for example. At this stage, the damage is not yet visible : it is the image of a building that catches fire from the inside. From the outside, the facade seems intact, while inside, everything is destroyed.
  • The syndrome of “John Wayne” : the name of the american actor, who saw the bullets pass in front of him, but remained impassive. This is the case of a person who was very involved before, passionate about her work and who would be distracted from one day to the next the fate of its customers, for example. This means, not that she is no longer motivated, but it is saturated emotionally.
  • The dehumanization of the other : when that person treats others, no longer as a human but as a means. There is a coldness, a stiffness, in his relation to the other. She has no more room for human warmth, attention, or love.
  • The feeling of failure : the person, despite his job in excelsis, the sensation that his work is not good. It devalues : “I am zero, I do not use it in anything “. The last alarm before the suicidal act, which should engage the close – is ” you’d be better off without me “. A clarification on the suicide : it may be that the person to get better 10 to 15 days prior to the suicidal act. This is explained by the fact that she is peaceful because she has found the solution to its ills. The psychologist clarifies with accuracy ” nobody commits suicide to die, but to cease suffering “.

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