Skip to Content, Skip to Navigation

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Alert24 - Safeguard Update

Small businesses beat stress

Small businesses beat stress
Article Type:
Publication Date:
New Zealand

A roundtable discussion at the conference, intended to formulate a research agenda for work-related stress in small businesses, produced some interesting examples of small-scale stress management successes.

Facilitators Claire George and Nadine McDonnell from AUT University provided background to the discussion with a literature review focused on the characteristics of New Zealand small businesses, and the paradox of stress as both a motivator and limiting factor. They outlined the types of situations associated with workplace stress, including intrinsic aspects of the job (heat, noise, chemical exposure, etc), relationship conflicts, role ambiguity, lack of career development options, lack of participation in decision-making, the home-work interface, and staffing issues such as unexpected absences, noting that many of these issues were especially likely in smaller enterprises.

When participants were asked for their views on how small workplaces could manage stress, Japanese delegate Sadao Horino from Kanagawa University provided a simple but effective example from a small taxi company in Yokohama.

"Normally the drivers work 16 hours for two days, then have one day off," he said. "Because they do most of their work at night, they end their shift at 2 or 3 in the morning. The owner of the company waits at the depot until every driver gets back to the carpark, and greets each one as they come in. He acknowledges them all and it makes them highly motivated. They have a better day because of this."

Another Japanese example, from Ippei Mori of Mie University Graduate School of Medicine, showed how a shared project could help resolve workplace relationship issues. Mori described how he had helped implement a participatory work improvement training programme at a small enterprise with a large number of migrant workers.

"There were people there from nine or ten different countries. After the programme ended they told us that before they did the training there had been conflict between the different national groups but after working together in participatory training good relationships were established between all the different country groups."

Thomas Cunningham from NIOSH said a study of stroke risk factors conducted by his organisation had found generally lower stress levels in workplaces with fewer than 50 employees and identified some stress protection mechanisms associated with smaller businesses.

People Mentioned:
Claire George; Nadine McDonnell; Sadao Horino; Ippei Mori; Thomas Cunningham
Organisations Mentioned:
AUT University; Kanagawa University; Mie University; NIOSH
Reference No:

From Alert24 - Safeguard Update

Table of Contents