Measure Behavior Under Stress To Create A Resilient Organization

Navjit Singh-22 June, 2020 -Assessments

We all experience stress at work, at home, in a social setting, almost everywhere, and we all respond to stress in distinctly human ways.

Organizations put people on the job just expecting them to cope with the stress that comes along. For the most part, employees do cope. Some people develop great handling strategies. Unfortunately, others are inadequate in their handling or don't learn to handle at all, until it's too late.

Stress has been called the "health epidemic of the 21st century".


There is a common misconception that stress is always bad, but it doesn't have to be. The stress response is an important psychological phenomenon. Emotions are rarely classified as just good or bad. While on the negative side, there are four major areas where stress can impair behaviour: it can impair perception of the problem, analysis of the problem, decision making, and motor action. On the positive side, without a stress response our reaction to emergencies would be inadequate and ineffective.

But research suggests that some amount of stress can be beneficial to performance. As per a law by Yerkes & Dodson, performance increases with physiological or mental arousal (stress) but only up to a point. When the level of stress becomes too high, performance decreases.

Given this relationship between stress and performance and as organizations prepare to build a resilient workforce, that can handle stressful situations, it makes sense for them to understand the stress handling capacity of a person and how the person adapts during stress. It is also important to understand how the person's performance changes as he/she shifts from non-stressful to stressful conditions.

These insights can be used across:

  1. 1. Lateral Hiring
  2. 2. Change Management
  3. 3. Organization restructuring
  4. 4. Training - Stress Management
  5. 5. Crisis Management - Pandemic
  6. 6. Designing Employee Assistance Programs

Impact of Stress on workplace performance

A study conducted by Mental Health America suggests that stress costs US employers an estimated $500 billion dollars in lost productivity annually. The main areas of impact on the workplace include.

1. Absenteeism

As per a survey, 1/3rd of employees reported staying away from work at least two or more days a month because their work environments were so stressful.

2. Lost Productivity

A stressful mind can't concentrate and perform at their ability levels and it results in lower productivity at the workplace. Also, unhappy workplaces have a spiral effect on other workers as well as pulling their efficiencies down.

3. Employee Turnover

Three of the big reasons for employee turnover, work-life balance, manager's behavior and well-being is directly related to stress at work and is completely avoidable. A recent report suggested that replacing an employee costs about 33% of that employee's annual salary.

4. More Defects/Errors

Stress affects your ability to work at your optimum level or to process new information. Stress easily distracts workers and make them prone to make costly, harmful, or even critical mistakes on the job.

5. Strained Interactions and Relationships

Working as a cohesive unit or team goes a long way in ensuring the success of the team. Stress is a major contributor to strained interactions with peers and supervisors and impacts the team's unity.

How do you measure behavior under stress?

As part of psychometric assessments, a candidate is exposed to various conditions, dilemmas, situations, and their reaction on how they chose to deal with the same is measured. Algorithms are placed to study how the test taker exhibits certain behavior under 'non-stressful' situations and how these behaviors change under 'stressful situations'. This approach enables organizations to study the stress-management skills of the test-taker confidently. Care should be taken not to ask direct questions to make the test-taker conscious. Work-related behaviors and their impact should be measured independently and not as one construct for accurate results.

The report at a minimum should provide the potential impact of stress on a specific competency to include

1. Diminished Performance: When the performance declines by more than a certain degree as the test taker faces stressful situations.

2. Improved Performance: When the performance improves by more than a certain degree as the test taker faces stressful situations.

3. Equivalent Performance: When the performance changes by less than the pre-decided degree as the test taker faces stressful situations.

All competencies should be observed independently in detail to provide a useful and workable guide to the candidates and organizations.

Every individual has a different stress handling capacity and even the same individual behaves differently under normal or in stressful situations. We have seen that there are individuals who perform well in a stress-free environment often crumble under stress and their performance worsens below what their skill levels dictate.

Armezo through its game-based assessment Gammezo is proud to introduce India's first Behavior Under Stress report to equip HR leaders in creating a resilient organization structure where employees are assigned jobs based on their competencies and stress handling capabilities.