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Job Stress


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									Chapter 5 Job Stress                                      Page 1

                       Atiq ur Rahman siratiq@yahoo.com
Chapter 5 Job Stress                                                                 Page 2


   1. Stress is usually thought of in negative terms. (For example, boss gives a formal
      reprimand for poor performance). But there is also a positive, pleasant side of
      stress caused by good things (for example a college student makes dean's list; an
      employee is offered a job promotion at another location). Matteson define stress
      simply as "the interaction of the individual with the environment". Newman
      defines job stress as "a condition arising from the interaction of people and their
      jobs and characterized by changes within people that force them to deviate from
      their normal functioning". In general, "stress" is defined as an adaptive response
      to an external situation that results in physical, psychological, and/or behavioral
      deviations for organizational participants. Stress is not simply anxiety. Nor is
      stress simply nervous tension. Also stress is not necessarily something damaging,
      bad, or to be avoided. The key, of course is how the person handles the stress.
      Stress is inevitable; distress may be prevented or can be effectively controlled.
      However, stress is a source of motivation and is healthy as long as it is not over
      whelming. A world without stress would be a boring place.

   2. Stress has three stages: alarm, resistance, and exhaustion. In the alarm stage an
      outside stressor mobilizes the internal stress system of the body. There are a
      number of physiological reactions such as increased pituitary and adrenaline
      secretions; noticeable increases in respiration, heart beat and blood pressure and a
      heightening of the senses. If the stressor continues, then stress moves into the
      resistance stage, during which the body calls upon the needed organ or system to
      deal with the stressor. However, while there may be a great deal of resistance to
      one stress during this second stage, there may be little, if any, resistance to other,
      unrelated stressors. Finally, if the stressor persists over a long period of time,
      reserves of the adaptive mechanisms during the second stage may become
      drained, and exhaustion sets in. When this happens, there may be a return of the
      alarm stage, and the cycle starts again. Besides the physiologically oriented
      approach to stress, attention is also being given to the psychological or the
      behavioral (for example, directly confronting the stressors or attempting to obtain
      information about the stressors) dimensions of stress. All three dimensions
      (physiological, psychological, and behavioral) are important to the understanding
      of the job stress and coping strategies in modern organizations. The causes of
      stress or "stressors" affecting today's employees are both from outside and by and
      from employees themselves. These causes are as follows:

   Extra organizational stressors

   Taking an open systems perspective of an organization (that is where the organization
   is greatly affected by the external environment), it is clear that the job stress is not
   just limited to things that happen inside the organization, during working hours. Extra
   organizational stressors include things such as societal/technological change of the
   family, relocation, economic and financial conditions, residential or community
   conditions. The phenomenal rate of social and technical changes has had a great

                          Atiq ur Rahman siratiq@yahoo.com
Chapter 5 Job Stress                                                                    Page 3

   effect on people's lifestyles, and this of course is carried over into their jobs.

   A balance of physical, mental, and social well being is called wellness. Because
   people tend to get caught up in the rush, mobile, urbanized, crowded, on the go life
   style of today, their wellness in general has deteriorated, and the potential for stress
   on the job has increased. A family situation either in brief crisis, such as squabble or
   the illness of family member, or long term strained relations with the spouse or
   children can act as a significant stressor for employees. So can relocating the family
   because of a transfer or a promotion. Recessionary economy has proved to be a
   stressor. Many people have been forced to take a second job. The overall effect on the
   employees is more stress on their primary jobs. Sociological variables such as sex and
   class can also become stressors. Women experience more psychological distress than
   men, but men are more prone to serve physical illness. For professional women, the
   particular sources of stress have been identified as discrimination, stereotyping, the
   marriage/work interface condition of housing convenience of services and shipping,
   neighborliness, and degree of noise and air pollution are also likely stressors.
   Although it is commonly thought that top level management in modern organizations
   are in the most stressful positions, there is some evidence that middle level managers
   really are under more stress. This means that there are more people affected by stress
   in organizations than just the top executives.

   Organizational stressors

   Stressors are also associated with the organization itself. Although the organization is
   made up of groups and individuals there are also more macro level dimensions,
   unique to the organization, those contain potential stressors. These macro level
   stressors can be categorized into organizational policies, structures, physical
   conditions and processes. As the organizations become larger and more complex,
   there are more and more accompanying stressors for individual employees in their
   jobs. Most of the stressors are the direct result of very large, job overloaded, and
   highly complex organizations.

A person is a member of many groups; family, office, neighborhood. The group has
tremendous influence on behavior. The group can also be a potential source of stress.
These group stressors can be categorized into three areas.

Lack of group cohesiveness
Cohesiveness or “togetherness” is very important to employees, especially at the lower
levels of organization. If an employee is denied the opportunity for belonging or because
the other members of the group shut the person out, this can be very stress-producing.

                           Atiq ur Rahman siratiq@yahoo.com
Chapter 5 Job Stress                                                                  Page 4

Lack of social Support:
Employees are greatly affected by the support of one or more members of a group. By
sharing their problems and joys with others, they are much better off. If this type of social
support is lacking for an individual, it can be very stressful.

This is normally associated with incompatible or hostile acts between intra-individual
dimensions such as personal goals or motivational needs/values, between individuals
within a group, and between groups, is another source of stress.

Individual stressor
Extra-organizational, organizational and group stressors all eventually get down to the
individual level. Although there are many possible individual stressors, three areas seem
to be more recognized than others:-

Role Characteristics
Individual employees have multiple roles (Family Work, Professional, Recreational,
Mosque, Club, Community and so on), and these often make conflicting demands and
creates conflicting expectations. After a recent extensive search of the empirical research
it was concluded that “work schedule, Work orientation, Marriage, Children and spouse,
employment pattern may all produce pressures to participate extensively in the work role
or the family role. Stress results when the time demands for the work role is incompatible
with the time pressures of the family role or vice versa.

Role ambiguity results from inadequate information or knowledge to do a job. This
ambiguity may be due to inadequate training, poor communication or the deliberate
withholding or distortion of information by a co-worker or supervisor. In any event, the
result of role conflict and ambiguity is stressed for the individual.

                            Atiq ur Rahman siratiq@yahoo.com
Chapter 5 Job Stress                                                                   Page 5

Type A characteristics
There are individual differences in, personality characteristics and traits. Personality traits
such as authoritarianism, rigidity, masculinity, femininity, extroversion, supportiveness,
spontaneity, emotionality, tolerance for ambiguity, locus of control, anxiety and the need
for achievement have been uncovered by research as being particularly relevant to
individual stress. Most recent attention however has centered on the so-called “Type A
personality”. Heart researchers have been working on the use of personality type to
predict heart attack, since type A has twice as many heart attacks than any one else, Type
A profile co-related highly with experienced stress and dangerous physical consequences.
A majority of Americans are type A, and even higher percentage of managers are type A.
Type A personality as “an active, competitive, driven, impatient emotions complex.
Obvious type A employees (managers, sale persons, staff specialists, secretaries, file
operating employees) experience considerable stress. They are the one who:
   1. Work long, hard hours under constant deadline pressure and conditions for
   2. Often take work home at nights or on weekend and are unable to relax.
   3. Constantly compete with themselves, sitting high standards of productivity that
       they seem driven to maintain.
   4. Tend to become frustrated by the work situation, get irritated with the work
       efforts of others, and are misunderstood by superiors.

At first, because of Rosenman and Friedman’s studies, it was generally thought that type
A’s were much more prone to the worst outcome of stress heart attacks. On the question
of the success of type As Vs type Bs. Type As are typically on the “fast track” to the top.
They are more successful as compared to type Bs, who are more patient and take a
broader view of things. The key may be to shift from type A to type Bs behavior, but of
course, most type As are unable and unwilling to make the shift and/or to cope with their
type A characteristics.

                            Atiq ur Rahman siratiq@yahoo.com
Chapter 5 Job Stress                                                                  Page 6

Life and Career Changes:
Like technological and social change, life and/or career changes can be stress-producing.
Life’s changes may be slow (getting older) or sudden (the death of spouse), have a very
stressful impact on people. These life changes can also directly influence. The same can
be said for career changes. Being suddenly thrust into a job with new responsibilities can
be very stressful. Under-promotion and over-promotion can also be stress provoking.
Career planning can prevent such stress-producing situations in employees.

The effects of Job on Individuals
As was pointed out in the introductory comments, stress is not all negative for individual
employees or their organizational performance. In fact, it is general mild stress, such as
getting a new supervisor or being involuntary transferred, may result in an increased
search for information in the job. This may lead employees to new and better ways of
doing their jobs.

Research is also emerging that indicates that the level of difficulty and nature of the task
being performed and personal situational variables may affect the relationship between
stress and performance. However, it is still safe to conclude that:
   1. The performance of many tasks is in fact strongly affected by stress.
   2. Performance usually drops off sharply when stress rises to high levels.
It is the dysfunctional effects of high levels of stress that should be and are a major
concern for contemporary society in general and for effective human resources
management in particular. The problems due to high levels of stress can be exhibited
physically, psychologically or behaviorally by the individual. Stress has impact on
physical health. A high level of stress is accompanied by high blood pressure and high
level of cholesterol and can result in heart disease, ulcer and arthritis. However stress can
and does contribute to these dreaded diseases and to other physical problems as well.
There is an impact of stress on mental health. Yet, at least indirectly if not directly, the
psychological problems resulting from stress may be just as important in day-to-day job
as performance.

                           Atiq ur Rahman siratiq@yahoo.com
Chapter 5 Job Stress                                                                Page 7

High level of stress may be accompanied by anger, anxiety, depression, nervousness,
irritability, tension and boredom. Change in mood and other emotional states and
especially relevant to job performance, lowered self-esteem, resentment of supervision,
inability to concentrate and make decisions and job dissatisfaction. These outcomes of
stress can have a direct cost effect on the organization. Of even greater significance, the
outcomes of stress can have a subtle and/very real, affect on the styles and effectiveness
of managers in key positions. They may feel that they are not living up to suffer a loss of
self esteem. Co-workers, subordinates and superiors may become very disgusted with
such a manager. Behaviors that may accompany high level of stress include under-eating,
overeating, sleeplessness, increased smoking and drinking and drug abuse.

There is some research evidence indicating the relationship between stress and especially
absenteeism and turnover. For example, workers may experience stress and react by
getting drunk and staying home from work the next day with a hangover.

                           Atiq ur Rahman siratiq@yahoo.com

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