Stress can be defined in many ways but in general terms, it refers to the feeling of pressure, anxiety, and tension. Occupational stress refers to those organizational task/role performances, which induce stress on employees in the workplace. It can be characterized by the harmful physical and emotional responses occurring when the job requirements, work environment, or work organization does not match the worker’s capabilities, resources, or needs. (Lorne, 2004).
Stress is a part of everybody’s life. Stress has played a major role in human life since people walked on earth even though it is commonly known that stress is bad for health. There are several reasons for stress which can be caused by illness, pain, or emotional disturbances such as losing a job, or the death of a family member. Also, it can control our lives depending on the level of stress. (Julian 2004).
There are many causes of stress in the workplace. Commonly studied stressors include the role, workload, interpersonal disagreements, organizational constraints, and apparent control. A role is a set of behaviors expected of people. There are three role stressors, this includes role ambiguity, role conflict, and role overload. (Jeremy, 2005) When a person is unclear of his duties this is known as role ambiguity. Inconsistent and conflicting demands from other workers are role conflicts. Role overload is when an employer gives more work to an employee than he can accomplish in the given time. The workload is the amount of work a person can do in a given time. An example of a workload stressor is during the summer months hotel employees experience a greater number of tourists than normal and after the summer is over these numbers drop off dramatically, this can cause stress. Interpersonal conflict is a negative interaction with co-workers or clients in the workplace. An example of this is, difficulties dealing with co-workers, clients, or the general public Organizational constraints are the inhibiting effect on performance due to unavailability, inadequacy, or poor quality. Perceived control in an organization is through job autonomy and participative decision-making. (Melanie, 2005).
Another factor that is affecting many Americans is the current trend towards leaner and mean business entities. Downsizing has been increasingly more popular with our technology-driven society. Not only have we been striving to work efficiently with the stack of papers on our desks already mounting, but we are also now expected to assume the work of two people or more. (James, 2007) Individuals have been asked to do a wider variety of work functions that they have not been trained for. This already puts them in line with possible disasters. Downsizing has resulted in longer working hours for employees, less time for personal activities and dreams, decreased satisfaction and happiness, and eventually possible health risks with each mounting stressor. Downsizing has created great concern over job security and much work harder to compensate in order to keep paychecks coming week after week. (Lorne, 2004).
Stress from work may negatively affect health. The work stress is enormous due to the high responsibility for the safety of others. Many employees react to stress with aggressiveness and self-imposed pressure to get things done. This behavior has been linked to increased heart attack, high blood pressure, and others diseases.
Furthermore, stress from work is one of the reasons for drinking. Stress is a factor that is commonly thought to be related to excessive drinking, and alcoholism. Consequently, the level of stress attained in a certain occupation and prevalence of drugs are directly related to each other. The more stress a job causes to its workers the higher the chance those workers drinking. In addition, high levels of stress affect a person’s drinking habits. Many people believe that alcohol will help to reduce stress. As a result, it will increase drug and alcohol abuse.
Organizations can reduce stress in the workplace by using one of the five methods; examples of each are as follows. Stress management training provides the employee with resources to cope effectively when faced with stressors. Employers can also reduce stress in the workplace by reducing the effects of stressors; this is done by reducing the stressors themselves. (James, 2007) An example of this could be the greater involvement of employees in decision-making. Employers can offer alternative work schedules, examples are flextime and compressed workweek. Another way to reduce stress in the workplace is to have family-friendly benefits, this can include onsite daycare for children, this way parents do not have to worry about finding a babysitter. (Frank, 2004) The last method employers can use is to provide health and fitness programs. Examples of this can include onsite gym, swimming pools, tennis courts, yoga classes, health, and nutrition education, and provide healthy meals in the cafeteria. (Hubbard, 2007).
Given the aforementioned types of stress and related causes, many employers are turning to the full support of a healthy work-to-life balance. Programs such as flexible work schedules, telecommuting, compensation time, and child care are all keys to having happy, healthy employees. (Frank, 2004) Employers have been giving more attention to healthier working environments that have been optimized for comfort and productivity as they contain ergonomically correct keyboards, chairs, and computer stations. Responsible management can nip stress in the bud regarding newly introduced systems, programs, and workflow processes if they inform and educate staff of new technologies and give them the opportunity to provide feedback for future fine-tuning. This communication is crucial as is comprehensive training and support for system changes within the organization. Responsible management should allow employees enough time to learn and master new technologies. (Hubbard, 2007).
Today’s progressive and forward-thinking corporations are offering employee programs to aid in the reduction of occupational stress. They understand the productivity burn when workers experience psychological consequences such as anxiety, forgetfulness, low self-esteem, depression, anger, and or worry. The consistent growth of employees complaining of headaches, fatigue, hypertension, chest and back pain, ulcers, and rising cases of infectious diseases reveals a definite need for further research, study, and resolution.
In conclusion, these are three damaging effects of stress. Stress is bad for health, the environment, the atmosphere, and the people around. Work stress places a very high fee on both employees and employers. Many employees react to stress with aggressiveness and self-imposed pressure to get things done. The reduction of stress in the workplace is a worthwhile time investment for all firms as it will positively improve productivity, morale, and overall organizational harmony.
Frank M. Gryna, (2004) Work Overload!: Redesigning Jobs to Minimize Stress and Burnout. ASQ Quality Press
Hubbard, L. Ron. (2007) The Problems of Work. Bridge Publications, Inc.
James, Manktelow & Terry, Jeavons. (2007) Manage Stress (WORKLIFE). DK ADULT.
Jeremy, Stranks. (2005) Stress at Work: Management and Prevention. Butterworth-Heinemann.
Julian Barling, Kelloway, E. Kevin, Michael R. Frone. (2004) Handbook of Work Stress. Sage Publications, Inc.
Lorne, Sulsky & Carlla, Smith. (2004) Work Stress. Wadsworth Publishing.
Melanie, King. (2005) Surviving Stress at Work: Understand It, Overcome It. Trafford Publishing.