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Support: Dealing with Stress in the Workplace

The Realistic Job Preview and Employee Orientation Programs [2.10.2f 8]

The following is an excerpt from Stress and Burnout: A Prevention Handbook for the Alcohol and Other Drugs Workforce, by Natalie Skinner and Anne Roach from National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction (NCETA), Flinders University: Adelaide, Australia. The full Stress and Burnout handbook can be found Here or through a search request Here.
One of the realities of working in the AOD field is that workers are likely to face a range of challenging situations, such as heavy caseloads, limited resources, and clients with complex needs. There is some evidence to suggest that unrealistic work expectations (e.g., exciting work, the need to cure clients) may lead people to invest too highly in their work and experience exhaustion and cynicism when expectations are not met. Providing realistic job previews (RJPs) may help alleviate this risk factor for stress and burnout.

Realistic Job Previews 

Ensuring that new recruits to an organization have realistic expectations of the demands and rewards of the job is an important strategy to help reduce subsequent stress and burnout.[1] Workers provided with a realistic job preview are more likely to be satisfied with their job and less likely to leave an organization.[2] A realistic job preview provides job candidates with an accurate and complete representation of the tasks and responsibilities of the job. It presents the pros and cons.
Realistic job previews may contain information such as:
  • Describing a typical day on the job.
  • Aspects of the job that have been difficult for others.
  • Aspects of the job that have been rewarding for others.
  • Opportunities for advancement and professional development.
  • Remuneration and benefits.
  • Unique requirements: travel, physical demands, shift work.

Employee Orientation Programs

More detailed information is available in the Orientation chapter.
An effective orientation process helps new workers understand their roles and where they “fit” within the organization. It also equips them with the tools they need to perform their work roles.[3]

What to Include in an Orientation Program

In the AOD field, it is recommended that orientation programs be based on the following principles:
  • A well written employment manual that includes relevant policies and procedures.
  • An introduction to a potential mentor or “buddy” who can help to orient the candidates (if resources allow).
  • Realistic information about typical challenges and adjustment problems that are to be expected, as well as effective actions for a successful transition.
  • General support and reassurance.
  • An introduction to the program and the relevant AOD-related issues and strategies.
These recommendations are based on the Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association (VAADA) resource: Hitting the ground running: Induction for new workers in the alcohol and drug sector: A VAADA discussion paper.

[1] Maslach, C., Schaufeli, W. B., & Leiter, M. P. (2001). Job burnout. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 397-422.
[2] Phillips, J. M. (1998). Effects of realistic job previews on multiple organizational outcomes: A meta-analysis. Academy of Management Journal, 41, 673-690.
[3] VAADA. (2003, September 2003). Hitting the ground running: Induction for new workers in the alcohol and drug sector.A VAADA discussion paper. Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association (VAADA). Available: [2005, 12January].

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