Stress and Other Outcomes in Organization Change

Subject: Management Priorities
Pages: 5
Words: 1412
Reading time:
5 min
Study level: PhD


A change in organization is defined as strong force that can drive many segments in an organization providing the managers with new projects or modification of the already existing ones. Any force of change in an organization can affect its business, the jobs of the employees and consequently their daily life. An organization that fails to recognize that any change in the organization’s environment can affects the behavior and altitude of its employees risks its productivity, personal effectiveness as well as profitability.

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Change in an organization can sometime be painful, disorienting, fulfilling, empowering, confusing, frustrating and challenging and this makes human being by nature to resist it because of the fear and consequences of the unknown. However, if there is proper communication, this fear can be easily overcome.

Influence of individual resistance to change in an organization

In an organization, people tend to maintain their status quo through bias that is systematic but unconsciously, and this forms the basis of resistance to change. Sometimes a change can be conscious and deliberate through collaborative effort aimed at improving the system of operation of human being. This involves changing the behavior of the client through a process of influence which can be obtained from different sources.

An agent of change can decide to use power-coercive method based on economic, political or moral sanction although this is not preferred by most change agents. He can also opt to use empirical-rational approach which uses knowledge by the agent to change individual’s perceptual organization. Several theories consider forces of a planned change as positive while the resistance to that force is generally seen as a problem of the client. (Meyer, 2002 pp33-37)

A resistance to change that is not exercised to extremes is functional in the sense that, it balances people’s lives through the unconscious habits. The components of resistance are selective retention and selection perception that help to organize understanding of environment. As people grow up they depend on those who are experienced such as parents, teachers and doctors who guide them on matters that are new to them.

The societies help us accept our status quo that lead to self distrust in case of potential change and regression. When team members resist manager’s directives, this facilitates group meetings to communicate about need to have a change and also use group plans to enact change. This uses consensus building and joint diagnosis so that people may not feel threatened. (Taylor, 1992 pp12-15)

Potential source of stress

Internal sources of stress come from individual perception of threat in the environment even if such danger does not actually exist. Environmental stressors consist of external conditions which are beyond individual control and can seriously impair work performance. many aspects of organizations life that are sources of stress are monotony of work where employees do the same type of work all the time creating boredom, ambiguous demands, excessive responsibilities, value conflicts and misuse of authority by management.

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Stressors are induced emotionally and are based on expectations of people or belief that there is likelihood of something terrible to happen. Thus, stress that is induced emotionally arises due to imaginations. The first health problem in our society is anxiety due to situational stress, anticipatory stress, encounter stress and time stress. Time stress comes as a result of imaginary or real deadline that one is not able to meet. Anticipatory stress occurs when an individual perceives that there is unpleasant event that is coming. Situation stress occurs when someone is in unpleasant situation and worry about whatever would happen next. Encounter stress is as a result of having encounter with people who may be pleasant or unpleasant.

In organization life, there are many stressful situations which include physical environment problems such as excessive noise and poor lighting. The quality of work can also be a source of stress due to having too little work, excessive space in the workplace, conflict in the responsibilities and lack of diversity. Bad relationship with peers, subordinates and supervisors may be a source of stress because people can not relate well and they do not feel contented to be in such an organization.

Personal factors are sources of stress such as security of the job and advancements. When employees feel insecure in their employment they might be stressed because they are not certain of their future in the job and feel that their employment may be terminated any time. Family and financial concerns result to stress if there are many financial need in the family than the finance available to cater for increasing needs. (Cohen, 1985 pp24-27)

Consequences of stress in organization

Employee stress lead to problems related to health and results to significant consequences in the organization. The physical illnesses related to stress are hypertension, duodenal ulcers, heart disease and mental problems such as depression, anxiety, insomnia and feeling of inadequacy. All these problems contribute towards decrease in work performance and absenteeism.

Stress can result to poor decision making by managers and lack of concentration when carrying out daily duties in the organization and this may lead to poor quality work and decrease in organization productivity. The employees who are under stress are not motivated to work hard and do not contribute towards team work in the organization where every member is required to be a team player. Problems related to stress requires management to use replacements that are expensive and unplanned from agencies so that the work that was performed by the affected employee can be done by another person who is experienced in that area as the organization gives him time to recover and continue with his normal duties.(Averill, 2003 pp19-21)

Information about change should be provided in advance through education and communication so that the managers can provide a solid reason for the change, the nature of change, the impact of change in the organization and the timing for change. If the information is provided in advance, employees get prepared for it and accept it instead of being caught by surprise when they are not aware.

Participation should be encouraged whenever possible because this makes people who are concerned support change and the change succeeds eventually. Employees should be guaranteed that, even if there is change they will not be laid off from employment and their salary will not be reduced. In case the change result to employees being laid off, proper compensation will be given to employees who would loose their job. The changes made should be only the necessary ones and change should not be made for the sake of it.

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When the manager is trusted, resistance to change is reduced because the employees know that the manager is experienced, has full authority and can only make decision that benefit organization as a whole. The staff should be counseled to avoid rebellion and make them adapt to change voluntarily. The manager should be able to provide facts about change and make them appear attractive and avoid giving damaging information.(Rafferty, 2006 pp32-35)

Stress must be accepted by equipping yourself physically and mentally by building resistance. Physical self care involves having adequate sleep, proper diet, relaxation techniques and exercise. Managing mental stress requires having positive attitude, setting clear goals and priorities and taking your time to care for your mental health. Clear communication helps to care for social health and requires support system to be maintained and investing energy and time with intimate partners and friends.

Cognitive techniques help us to change the way we perceive stress and changing beliefs that we must succeed in everything we do. We should have a positive way of looking at things and having alternative ways of solving our problems and having as many options as possible. Better job security helps to manage stress, creates an opportunity to learn new skills and a chance to work hard and be rewarded. (Brotheridge, 2003 pp20-24)


Meyer J. (2002): Commitment to organization change: Journal of applied psychology, pp. 33-37.

Taylor S. (1992): A longitudinal investigation on impact of individual differences: Journal of personality and social psychology, pp. 12-15.

Cohen S. (1985): stress, social support and buffering hypothesis: Psychological Bulletin, pp. 24-27.

Averill J. (2003): personal control over aversive stimuli and relationship to stress: Psychological Bulletin, pp. 19-21.

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Rafferty A. (2006): perceptions of organizational change; A stress and coping perspective: journal of applied psychology, pp. 32-35.

Brotheridge C. (2003): Justification on stress and other outcomes in organization change: international journal of stress management, pp. 20-24.