Success is getting it right

Getting team working right can reduce stress levels in workers but getting
it wrong can have the adverse affects

Team-working can increase as well as decrease work-related stress, the
Health and Safety Executive has warned.

A study for the HSE by the Institute of Work Psychology, part of Sheffield
University, examined the effects of team-working on work-related stress.

It found stress levels among employees working in teams were often linked to
how the team was designed and how team-working was put into practice by that

Team-working is becoming increasingly common among organisations – some 55
per cent of UK manufacturers were using it by the middle of the 1990s and this
was set to increase, said the HSE.

But while getting it right can mean reduced stress levels because workers
have greater control over their work environment and are more challenged,
getting it wrong can mean raised stress levels, the HSE warned.

Team-working could increase workload and mean employees were uncertain about
what was expected of them under the new approach.

Lean production teams – where employees work together on tightly-linked
tasks using highly standardised methods – can mean greater workload and less
job discretion, the study found.

But where team-working used a model that set it in an appropriate context,
particularly its design, implementation process and support culture, the
well-being of employees was often better safeguarded.

It can help employees work more collaboratively and better co-ordinate
inter-dependent activities.

Teams that promoted job autonomy, skill variety and feedback would generally
have a positive effect on their employees.

Report author Dr Helen Williams said: "Implementing team-working is
implicitly neither good nor bad for employee wellbeing. Rather, the effects of
team-working will depend on a number of organisational, design, strategic,
individual and implementation factors."

She added: "The important point is organisations need to recognise they
can make choices that have important consequences for employee well-being.
Employers need to be fully informed about the choices available to them, and
the consequences of these choices."

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