Occupational stress is one of the most serious challenges for leaders and managers (Aftab & Javeed, 2014). Because working environments have grown highly competitive and increasingly intense, employees find themselves caught in taxing atmospheres and experiencing constant mood swings because of harsh working conditions and the necessity to foster personal development to remain employed (Dwamena, 2012). Exposure to stress at work has an effect beyond professional life and extends to personal affairs, as most employees find it nearly impossible to reach a balance between work and life; as a result, they feel the negative influence of work-related stress on family relationships, physical and mental health, communication with colleagues, personal development, and job performance (The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, 2014). Apart from the effect that occupational stress has on employees, it also affects organizations by harming brand image, fostering negative changes in the workplace atmosphere, and wasting valuable human resources as employees switch jobs in the hopes for a more comfortable place to work and higher chances for career development (Petarli, Zandonade, Salaroli, & Bissoli, 2015). The author of the following review of literature will review many different manifestations of occupational stress, as well as cover several related concepts such as dissatisfaction with job conditions, absenteeism, low productivity, and how the aforementioned concerns tend to affect employees in the maritime industry and other sectors of the economy.
Conducting a thorough online search of the existing literature was the foundation for writing this chapter. Google’s search engine and the Google Scholar database were used for selecting articles accessed from the library. For the purposes of this research, there were no limitations in place regarding the country of origin or database to guarantee the inclusion of all relevant literature and to avoid the possibility of missing some valuable information. A variety of keywords were targeted in the searches, including workplace stress, occupational stress, causes of work stress, workplace stress outcomes, job dissatisfaction causes, turnover causes, depression, and stress coping mechanisms. Still, there were some criteria in place for choosing the source of information. First of all, inclusion depended on the nature of the source; only scholarly articles published in peer-reviewed journals were included in the literature review to ensure the credibility of the research. Moreover, even though preference was given to papers published within the last three years, some older sources were also included to estimate the dynamism of changes in the perceptions of occupational stress and primary stressors in the workplace. Primary emphasis was placed on the causes of occupational stress in the ship-repair industry. However, sources were not limited to those specifically covering the maritime industry because, in most cases, the causes of workplace stress and turnover intentions are similar across different career fields and industries. The literature review will include several subsections that provide further detail on topics related to occupational stress, identifying the nature of the concept in the first place and then investigating job satisfaction, employee absenteeism, employee productivity, and strategies used to minimize the risks of occupational stress in the ship-repair industry. The motivation behind the division is a desire to provide insight on matters related to professional stress and clearly point to the existence of the knowledge gap in the existing literature, underpinning the significance of the proposed study. Additional information on the selected sources is included in the table provided in Appendix A.
The thoeretical framework that served that basis for this study is represented by the JD-R model (job demond-resourcesmodel) whose purpose is to predict the potential impact of the increased job demands on the emplpyees and their level of occupational stress in particular (Demerouti, Bakker, Nachreiner, & Schaufeli, 2001). The two factors considered in the model and the main determiners of occupational stress are the work engagement and emotional burnout; also, according to Demerouti et al. (2001), these factors are in a direct connection with employee perfromance. This model was chosen as a theoretical framework for this research because it provides a basis for a deeper understanding of occupational stress and its causes, as well as the conditions that lead to its increase and decrease. Moreover, while high job demands are linked tightly to occupational stress, resources (the seconds determinant of the lavel of occupational stress) are represented by the set of measures taken by the employers for the purpose of reducing work-related stress of their employees and ensuring that the workplace have a healthy and balanced atmosphere (Xanthopoulou, Bakker, Demerouti, & Schaufeli, 2007). In that way, it is useful that the JD-R model involves a series of diverse characteristics of a work environment – in particular, it cover the physical, social, and organizational features and their impact on employees, as well as their emotional and physical well-being (Demerouti et al., 2001). Moreover, job resources may present the costs the employers would have to pay in order to achieve favorable working conditions and maintain a high level of performance in the employees. Organizing the job resources and demands in a stable and sustainable system allowing the employers to assess the workplace environment, as well as to deliver the steps needed for the improvement of the existing conditions is a complicated process, but its accomplishment will result in an elevated level of healthy workplace enthusiasm and the absense of work-related stress alongside all the disadvantages and adverse outcomes with which this phenomenon is associated.
The magnitude of the effect of occupational stress is rather high because this phenomenon does not dwell solely in the personal dimension of the employees affected by it. In reality, occupational stress has the capacity to produce an adverse effect on the organizational structure of large and small companies, entire markets and industries, and national economies (Chirico, 2016). The psychosocial conditions in the workplace are linked to the overall organizational performance, the employees’ readiness to work, cognitive state and focus; differently put, the level of work-related stress impacts directly the workplace safety and the overall business results and success (Chirico, 2016). In that way, the theoretical definition of occupational stress includes physical, social, and psychological dysfunctions in the workplace causing the dissatisfaction of the affected personnel members (Chirico, 2016).
The importance of occupational stress as a public health and organizational problem is based on the following set of facts:
- A single stressed out employee can willingly or unwillingly cause damage to many other employees, as well as his or her own or the organization’s property
- Stress is known to be the leading cause of increased job dissatisfaction and growing rates of turnover and absenteeism.
- Stress harms the people it affects in a physical and psychological manner.
- Managing an organization effectively involves addressing and reducing the levels of work-related stress (Beheshtifar & Modaber, 2013).
Another theory that contributed to the theoretical foundation of this study is transformational leadership theory, according to which, an organization’s leaders are seen as able to impact the employees’ well-being by means of fostering the positive organizational change and developing trusting relations with the workers (Liu, Siu, & Shi, 2010; Lyons & Schneider, 2009). Since the causes and outcomes of occupational stress are believed to lie in a variety of aspects comprising the organization of work-related duties, the overall job demands, and the resources engaged in the minimization of work-related stress; one can conclude that the role of the leaders is very important in relation to the establishment of favorable working conditions (or their disruption), as well as the maintenance of the work environment (Lyons & Schneider, 2009). In addition to the causes and consequences of occupational stress, the focus of this chapter is also on the measures that the employers and organizations can take for the purpose of minimizing the levels of occupational stress of the workers; as a result, this theory can be of use as a part of the theoretical framework for this study.
Discussing the nature of occupational stress as a health problem, it is important to specify that it is not a toxic or acute health condition; and therefore, there is no fixed treatment for it; however, this condition is chronic and requires a deep and detailed knowledge of an affected individual’s life history for a healthcare professional to be able to address it (Quick & Henderson, 2016). In particular, the epidemiologic description of occupational stress includes three main stages. The first stage is represented by the root causes of occupational stress that are also recognized as its risk factors; the second stage includes what is known in psychology as the stress response-a normal reaction of the human body and psyche to a stressful environment; finally, the third stage covers the incidence of distress (psychological and medical stress) and eustress-that is healthy type of stress (Quick & Henderson, 2016).
Occupational stress is called this way because it is usually the result of the influence of a person’s professional occupation on his or her mental health that can often lead to physical manifestations of stress and the development of various diseases threatening the affected individual’s life and wellbeing (Beheshtifar & Modaber, 2013). The experience of the stress response is quite normal and often can happen to any individual at least once throughout a day. However, the nature, as well as the signs and symptoms accompanying stress response, can differ individually from one person to another based on their gender and other biological and psychological factors (Quick & Henderson, 2016). In particular, people’s stress response is often determined by such factors as vulnerability and resilience to stress; in that way, some of the features that increase one’s vulnerability to stress are loneliness and isolation, anger and hostility, socioeconomic or physiological factors that boost one’s proneness to various diseases linked to higher mortality, being pressed for time, being highly competitive, and quantification of achievement (Quick & Henderson, 2016). At the same time, the factors that contribute to a higher stress-resistance include self-control, emotional maturity, and personality hardiness; in addition, one of the most powerful boosters of stress-resistance is characterized as healthy relations with other people helping to form a caregiving system (Quick & Henderson, 2016).
Moreover, occupational stress is a prominent issue for the organizational leadership and management because it is known to cause three different forms of distress-behavioral, psychological, and medical-that are linked directly to the employees’ loss of productivity and decreased performance, as well as a set of other consequences and behaviors that tend to produce negative effects on work (some of such outcomes are alcohol and drug abuse as stress-coping behaviors, desire to skip work, a higher likelihood of conflicts in the workplace, the workers’ desire to compensate for the damage caused by the harsh organization; the latter wish often results in workplace theft (Quick & Henderson, 2016).
As a result, it is easy to notice that occupational stress is a significant problem that brings a multitude of negative effects to several groups of the involved stakeholders-the employees who have to work under stressful conditions, their managers and leaders who are forced to handle groups of workers who are out of control, and organizations as a whole that are affected by the decreasing performance and lack of balance in the workplace. Within the discussion of the conceptual framework of occupational stress, it is important to mention occupational stress indicators (OSI). This indicator was first outlined at the end of the 1980s within the Michigan occupational stress model and was said to include four core aspects such as sources and causes of occupational stress, the persons who are affected by this negative influence, the effects that occupational stress produces, and the coping strategies used for the purpose of overcoming it (Annamalai & Nandagopal, 2014). This approach to occupational stress allows viewing the phenomenon from four different angles in every unique situation and determining its magnitude and nature that potentially could help prevent occupational stress or minimize it for each particular case.
Finally, the third major aspect of the theoretical framework for this study is based on the employee engagement theories. Employee engagement is known to be in a tight connection with occupational stress as well as with the psychological well-being of employees (Amarakoon, 2015; Robertson & Cooper, 2009). In particular, the workers’ well-being in relation to their levels of occupational stress is viewed as expressed in these people’s engagement in their professional task and duties (Robertson & Cooper, 2009). Differently put, the employees affected by the negative outcomes of occupational stress such as emotional burnout, depersonalization, exhaustion, low job satisfaction, and absenteeism are likely to be disengaged from their professional duties. At the same time, Amarakoon (2015) argues that a completely stress-free workplace environment could result in the workers’ disengagement as well; and in that way, according to this theory, the employee engagement is based on a balance of anti-stress strategies put into practice by the workplace leaders and managers and a set of motivational tasks that would create a healthy level of workplace intensity making the working process active, involving, and stimulating in order to achieve a desired level of performance.
Occupational stress is one of the most challenging problems of the modern workplace organization, having adverse effects on both the welfare of employees and the future of an organization. Cevenini, Fratini, and Gambassi (2012) maintained that the phenomenon of occupational stress is inseparable from the concept of occupational health, meaning that external factors specific to a particular working environment affect both the physical and emotional well-being of employees. Just like health promotion, the issue of occupational stress should be addressed by monitoring and satisfying the needs of staff, eliminating potential risks, and recognizing the severity of consequences. Work-related stress is a common cause of serious health concerns such as cardiovascular diseases and depression, which affect the performance and success of the whole organization (Cevenini et al., 2012; The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, 2014; Leon & Halbesleben, 2013; Meško et al., 2013). In addition, there exists a broad range of minor and significant physical signs and symptoms of occupational stress, some of which are the compromised professional judgement, depressive or negative outlook on life and work, mood swings and irritability, aches and pains in different areas of the body, the feeling of frustration, dizziness, nausea, constipation or diarrhea, elevated heart rate, starving oneself or binge eating, loss of sleep, chronic fatigue, procrastination or neglectful attitude to one’s professional duties and responsibilities (Ajaganandam & Rajan, 2013).
Because the problem is severe and has significant consequences, a comprehensive approach to estimating the risks of occupational stress is critical. According to Cevenini et al., an effective approach includes both preventative and educational measures that point to the significance of health and job productivity promotion and teach managers to identify the signs of occupational stress and strategies to cope with it. The approach should incorporate psychological, physical, and social estimations of the working environment and should also conduct investigations of the workplace atmosphere on a regular basis (Cevenini et al., 2012).
Hakanen and Schaufeli (2012) demonstrated that workplace well-being is the primary determinant of the long-term well-being of an employee. The authors claim that remaining in a constant state of helplessness and anxiety leads to serious health concerns such as burnout and possibly depression (Hakanen & Schaufeli, 2012). One of the most significant breakthroughs made by these researchers is the discovery that there are two aspects of occupational stress: positive and negative. Hakanen and Schaufeli claimed that a strenuous atmosphere in the workplace causes low employee productivity, enhances absenteeism, and fosters a desire to switch jobs. However, if the atmosphere in the workplace is comfortable, and employees feel the support of management, they become motivated to fulfill their job duties effectively and make the maximum effort to increase productivity and performance (Adriaenssens, De Gucht, & Maes, 2015; Hakanen & Schaufeli, 2012; Kula & Sahin, 2015; Patel, 2013).
Hearing the phrase the profession with high levels of occupational stress many people would automatically think of very dangerous jobs that are related to health and life risks or the ones that involve many responsibilities and important decisions. However, there exists a broad body of research exploring the kinds of professions whose features are linked to occupational stress, and the findings indicate that the range of such professions is very wide and includes jobs of various kinds and levels (Griffiths, Baxter, & Townley-Jones, 2011).
Griffiths et al. (2011) stated that regardless of field or industry, it is impossible to avoid workplace stress altogether. Most jobs and positions involve deadlines, heavy workloads, extra hours, tiring or difficult situations, the need for lengthy sessions of high concentration, workplace conflicts, insufficiency of pay, the management of risks and dangers, fast decision-making and problem-solving, to name a few. In that way, it is logical to assume that occupational stress is a common phenomenon and can occur in a variety of different career fields and industries. However, some professions are recognized as more stressful than others (Griffiths et al., 2011).
The individuals who work in the public sector are at higher risk of workplace stress because they fulfill job duties in environments with lower social support and less social appraisal or gratitude. Together with overtime shifts and low payment, these problems make public service employees the central risk group for occupational stress (RAND, 2015). Teo, Pick, Newton, Yeung, and Chang (2013) claimed that workplace stress is the byproduct of organizational changes to areas like budgeting, workloads, or recruitment requirements. Because such changes are usually unexpected and are not accompanied by appropriate notice to employees or modifications to organizational policies and management styles, the emergence of stress at work is inevitable, and its consequences can be adverse.
Mirmohammadi et al. (2014) mentioned that the professionals that are usually associated with high levels of occupational stress are the ones known for emotional pressure and multiple responsibilities; some good examples of such professions are government officials and business executives. The researchers found that people occupying such positions were exposed to high levels of stress because of their duties and daily activities, the need for fast decision-making, as well as the pressing responsibilities which contribute to the increased chance for these workers to develop cardiovascular disease. However, interestingly, the same study suggested that employees whose positions involved monotonous work with reduced complexity and few challenges were exposed to the same health risks (Mirmohammadi et al., 2014).
Moreover, with the introduction of the newest technologies to everyday life, the limitations of the workplace have been lifted, and the working environment has been shifted to the virtual dimension. Such recent developments in the working environment have become a source of additional challenges related to workplace organization and management. The new type of workforce that is expanding in the modern world are the so-called invisible workers – the employees of virtual offices and free-lance workers whose working process involves the delivery of their tasks on their computers while staying home (Blount, 2015). Many researchers noted that the specificity of such working process can be beneficial for both the employers and employees; however, it also carries a set of challenges contributing to a high level of occupational stress (Blount, 2015; Burman & Shastri, 2013; Raghuram & Wiesenfeld, 2004).
Indeed, the increased opportunity for virtual work decreases the risks of absenteeism and presenteeism as well as eradicates the challenge of heavy workloads and interpersonal conflicts, because there is no physical working environment. Moreover, the opportunity to design the best-fitting and most appropriate schedules is another contributor to enhanced employee productivity (Blount, 2015). In addition, the more flexible and convenient working conditions allowed the reduction of work-rest balance; however, there exists a challenge in the area of creation of organizational commitment and the maintenance of the company culture among long-distance workers (Burman & Shastri, 2013; Raghuram & Wiesenfeld, 2004).
Nevertheless, enhanced flexibility of the working conditions does not eliminate the risks of occupational stress; in fact, the challenge of controlling the availability of employees and managers stimulates stress (Blount, 2015). Even though social networks such as Skype are common tools for communication and represent the network status, the problem of controlling employee performance and getting in touch with them is still challenging. Moreover, individually designed schedules that benefit an employee are not always the most appropriate for an employer. The same is true about the timeframes and deadlines proposed by senior management, which might be stressful for a distant employee (Blount, 2015). Altogether, the specificities of the digital working environment still expose employees to the risks of work-related stress and emotional burnout, especially given the probability of overtime shifts and heavy workloads accompanied by impaired communication.
In that way, it turns out that occupational stress is typical associated not only with jobs related to frequent worrying and emotional pressure but are also associated with positions where jobs are particularly uninteresting and lack healthy challenges and motivation, such as bottom-level office jobs (Mirmohammadi et al., 2014). Differently put, Mirmohammadi et al. (2014) findings make it possible to theorize that occupational stress is a broad phenomenon that can be driven by a multitude of factors. In other words, it is wrong to believe that only physically or emotionally challenging jobs are related to a high level of occupational stress; in fact, it looks like basic jobs of low complexity are just as stressful (Blount, 2015). The major difference is the nature and quality of occupational stress experienced by the two groups of workers that are usually determined by the kind of causes and risk factors involved.
Factors contributing to occupational stress
Some occupational stress risk factors determine exposure to occupational stress regardless of the specific field of professional activities. These factors belong to two groups: organizational and personal. According to Mosadeghrad (2014), the workplace environment is the primary organizational stressor. The environment includes a variety of factors such as differences in workloads and salaries, management styles, job duties, the availability of resources and the effectiveness of allocating and managing them, career prospects, and the overall atmosphere in the work environment (Mosadeghrad, 2014). Altering management styles and adapting organizational policies are efficient approaches for eliminating these stressors.
Other factors that increase the risk of workplace stress are personal in nature (Mosadeghrad, 2014). Indeed, there are complex socio-economic determinants aggravated by the weight of social opinion and prejudice as well as both the internal and external characteristics of an individual. Among the more significant factors within this group of personal predictors of workplace stress are gender, as women are more emotional and predisposed to experiencing stress because they work both at home and at work; educational level, which directly affects job duties and the ability to complete tasks or foster career development; and status as a member of a racial or religious minority, which is closely connected to under-promotion or overload based on prejudice and subjectivity (Mosadeghrad, 2014). Developing the character traits of a strong leader and learning interpersonal communication skills can be beneficial for addressing personal factors and reducing their detrimental effects on employees (Mosadeghrad, 2014). However, in people with weaker personalities, such factors can become a significant stressor that may be impossible to cope with or eliminate (Mosadeghrad, 2014).
There is one more approach to the understanding of stressors offered by Teo et al. (2013). The authors suggested that stressors can be either administrative or non-administrative. The first group of irritants is easy to identify because it includes items such as workloads and schedules (Teo et al., 2013). The primary emphasis is on the exclusion of factors determining the nature of the external environment and the selected management and communication style. Administrative stressors also include cooperation between team members and workplace atmosphere. However, when the administrative stressors happen to be related to professional activities, personal factors tend to come into play. Even though the nature of the activity (e.g., the necessary level of skill or knowledge required to cope with the tasks) determines one’s predisposition to occupational stress, the final outcome depends on personal character traits and inner barriers to stressful situations, as personality is what defines a person’s predisposition to stress, either at work or in private matters (Teo et al., 2013).
It is also worth mentioning that the workplace environment is the major stressor that contributes to decreased employee productivity and increased occupational stress (Daniel, 2015). Incorporating the elements of such approaches as those proposed by Cevenini et al. (2012), Chen et al. (2014), and RAND (2015) are valuable options for analyzing the workplace environment. Indeed, each of the constituents mentioned above is helpful in its own way for estimating the current state of a work environment and for understanding the roots of occupational stress, backing up the assumption that a negative working environment leads to lower employee productivity (Roelofsen, 2012).
As a general matter, there are several groups of stressors further divided into causes of occupational stress based on the specificities of the environment of operation. According to Kelly and Barrett (2011), among these groups are job qualities, role conditions, career progress, lack of challenges, and work relations. Job qualities are related to job schedules (i.e., too many or not enough job duties); these are made up of the number of tasks, their nature, and the length of shifts. There are two perspectives for viewing job qualities: qualitative and quantitative (Kelly & Barrett, 2011). Quantitatively, the number of tasks or the length of job duties is the only way to estimate them; forcing an individual to cope with more tasks than predetermined for an ordinary shift is an overload. The opposite situation turns into underload. From a qualitative point of view, the major feature of job quality is viewing the job requirements, determining whether these requirements include quality standards or the skills and knowledge necessary to cope with the task appropriately (Kelly & Barrett, 2011). Overloads, both qualitative and quantitative, are common determinants of occupational stress because they cause an employee either to be unable to complete scheduled tasks or to work with maximum effort for too long, leading to burnout (Teo et al., 2013). On the other hand, underload is a rare stressor because of the very nature of human beings and their natural desire to avoid excessive workloads. However, in some cases, underload also entails workplace stress because it is synonymous with being undervalued and unimportant (Kelly & Barrett, 2011; Teo et al., 2013).
Another common stressor is role conditions, a concept incorporating two constituents: role conflict and role ambiguity (Kelly & Barrett, 2011). The list of job duties and responsibilities is what determines role conditions. However, there is one crucial difference requiring attention when it comes to estimating the importance of these stressors; in the case of role conflict, an individual cannot cope with his or her duties or make appropriate decisions to address a challenging situation better-meaning that the employee is given full responsibility for actions and decisions but lacks the competence or confidence to take it (Kelly & Barrett, 2011; Teo et al., 2013). On the other hand, role ambiguity refers to a lack of clear instructions and tasks-meaning that the individual cannot fully carry out job duties because descriptions are blurred and unclear (Kelly & Barrett, 2011; Teo et al., 2013). The authors maintain that both role ambiguity and role conflict have an identical influence on the risk of occupational stress, as they both impose significant levels of stress on an employee (Kelly & Barrett, 2011; Teo et al., 2013). Together, these concepts are even known as role stress, which points to their nature and their influence on an individual. It is imperative to note that introducing a relevant system of social support to help employees make necessary and accurate decisions is a helpful option for addressing role challenges (Adriaenssens et al., 2015). However, as noted before, the lack of adequate social support is a stressor itself (Griffiths et al., 2011; RAND, 2015), so only well-planned systems would be effective in addressing the problem of role stress.
The causes of occupational stress vary from organizational to emotional issues. However, the foundation of stress is some kind of change in a stressor. In the simplest terms, a stressor is an irritant; once the comfortable and acceptable level of a particular irritant is exceeded, it invokes a negative reaction that is known as stress (Kelly & Barrett, 2011). For example, Adriaenssens et al. (2015) noted that work-related stress is the outcome of changes in job demands, a lack of social support, or a lack of job control. These aspects form the foundation of the job characteristics model that is applicable to both estimating workplace conditions and forecasting the risks of occupational stress (Adriaenssens et al., 2015). However, in a broader context, such aspects are also useful for determining the primary causes of occupational stress.
Since the range of jobs and professions that are associated with stressful environments is very broad owing to the diverse nature of stress itself, the number of root causes and factors that can contribute to the development of occupational stress is also large. In that way, the authors of different studies focusing on the causes of work-related stress in different career fields tend to identify varied sets of causes. For instance, in the study by Petarli et al. (2015), where the authors focused on the field of banking, the following set of variables was determined as potential factors impacting workers’ levels of occupational stress: daily work hours, length of employment, the time individuals have worked the same job, the nature of the position itself, the place of residence and distance the employees had to travel to get to work, and social support. At the same time, the systematic review by Dias, Santos, Abelha, and Lovisi (2016) that explored occupational stress in the petroleum industry, identified such causes as the necessity to master new technologies, working hours and shifts, work-related dangers, the lack of career development and prospects, the distance from home to work, physical conditions at work (climate, noise, lighting and ventilation, among others), the lack of social support (having to work in isolation or being separated from families). Moreover, Sharma (2015) reviewed the causes of work-related stress among blue-collar employees and named such contributing factors as heavy workloads, long shifts, physical conditions, and workplace relations as the major drivers of work-related stress. Also, Thanh (2016) focused specifically on workplace relations as the determinant of workplace stress among academic employees and concluded that they played a significant role in causing or preventing exhaustion of the workers.
Based on the findings of multiple studies, it is possible to notice that some of the causes of work-related stress seem to remain consistent regardless of the career fields, cultures, and job positions researched. In particular, workplace relations and other forms of social support, physical conditions, career opportunities, and working hours are some of the factors that prevail in many different studies (Petarli et al., 2015, Sharma, 2015, Thanh, 2016). However, owing to the diversity of such causes, it could make sense to group them into several categories or types.
Another critical cause of occupational stress is career progress. According to Kelly and Barrett (2011), there are two dimensions to this issue: under-promotion and job insecurity. The first challenge, under-promotion, occurs when an individual is precluded from career development based on bias or any other subjective reason. The primary focus in this area is on the intended actions of managers or other team members who have enough authority to influence the career path of colleagues (Kelly & Barrett, 2011). On the other hand, there is also the challenge of job insecurity. In simple terms, job insecurity corresponds to the absence of guarantees of future career development and to a lack of protection of their right to career progress (Kelly & Barrett, 2011). This cause of occupational threat is synonymous with the instability of a position within a company or organization. Kelly and Barrett claimed that under-promotion and job insecurity are the primary irritants invoking work-related stress. However, they miss out one more crucial problem: a lack of career opportunities. The foundation of this challenge is a lack of company resources necessary for enhancing employee self-development rather than the influence of any external factors (job insecurity) or the subjectivity of influential and powerful colleagues (Griffiths et al., 2011; Trivellas, Reklitis, & Platis, 2013).
Another type of stressor, a lack of challenge, is hard to separate from both career progress and role stress. Generally speaking, it refers to the feeling of boredom in the workplace. This sensation can be stimulated by the feeling of unimportance that derives from qualitative or quantitative underload or by seeing no prospects for career development (Kelly & Barrett, 2011). However, it is also important to draw attention to another case: a strong leader who is too competent for his or her occupied position. In some cases, employees find tasks too easy and complete them so quickly that they find themselves caught up by their competence as if the potential and energy they possess are being wasted (Cevenini et al., 2012; Kelly & Barrett, 2011). Such individuals often end up feeling demotivated because they cannot find reasons for further personal development, as they already have enough knowledge and skills to fulfill their job duties (Cevenini et al., 2012). The issue might become severely aggravated if there is a lack of future career opportunities and under-promotion.
Finally, there is one more group of stressors involving common irritants: work relations. These causes of occupational stress include a variety of problems and challenges-from ineffective communication to job pressure and frequent conflicts in the workplace. According to Kelly and Barrett (2011), the challenge has only one aspect: supervisor–employee interactions. They see the main problem as authoritative leaders who supervise with an iron fist and do not build any other interaction with team members (Kelly & Barrett, 2011). This model of communication becomes a source of occupational stress because of the way it suppresses the personalities and aspirations of colleagues and makes them feel depressed and even want to switch jobs (Kelly & Barrett, 2011). However, there are other stressors belonging to this group of irritants, including misunderstandings, conflicts, ineffective communication, lack of trust and openness, and a strenuous atmosphere in the workplace (Griffiths et al., 2011; Trivellas et al., 2013).
In addition to the causes of occupational stress mentioned above, there is one more critical factor to mention. The major assumption is that there is a link between occupational stress and the meaningfulness of a task (Daniel, 2015). There are several related perspectives. The concept of task meaningfulness is synonymous with workplace importance. For example, an individual who is usually assigned simple tasks may tend to feel underestimated, thus exacerbating his or her sense of helplessness and lack of job control. On the other hand, this problem is also a constituent of underload or under-promotion, in that tasks of no significant importance may become a tool for promoting inequality in the workplace. Still, Daniel (2015) pointed to the existence of the following trend: realizing that one’s work is meaningful has a positive effect on organizational outcomes and is valued by colleagues, reduces workplace stress and increases job satisfaction.
Consequences of Occuational Stress on Employees and Organizations
The consequences of workplace stress are adverse. In most cases, they affect the organization, such as an employee growing dissatisfied with a current position or having the desire to switch jobs, lessened employee productivity and worsened performance, and employee absenteeism (Chen, Huang, Hou, Sun, Chou, Chu, & Yang, 2014; O’Keefe, Brown, & Christian, 2014; Patel, 2013). However, in the most severe cases, occupational stress leads to serious health concerns including emotional burnout and depression, cardiovascular disease, workplace accidents because of a lack of concentration, excessive aggression, and cynicism that worsens the team atmosphere and the work environment as a whole (Adriaenssens et al., 2015; Aftab & Javeed, 2014; Cevenini et al., 2012; Chen et al., 2014; Dwamena, 2012; Hakanen & Schaufeli, 2012; Trivellas et al., 2013).
To summarize these significant findings, the consequences of occupational stress can be grouped into personal ones, which are related to an individual and his or her personal life, and organizational, which affect the company or organization (Adriaenssens et al., 2015; Hakanen & Schaufeli, 2012; Meško et al., 2013; Mosadeghrad, 2014). The individual effects of work-related stress include those that are physical and psychological. Headaches, cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal pain, increased blood pressure, disordered eating habits, substance abuse and various addictions, and chronic fatigue belong to the first group-physical consequences. Lack of concentration, mood swings, sleep pattern disturbances, anxiety, cynicism, aggression, depression, emotional exhaustion, and even suicidal ideation or depersonalization are psychological outcomes of work-related stress (Adriaenssens et al., 2015; Hakanen & Schaufeli, 2012; Meško et al., 2013; Mosadeghrad, 2014). The reflection of the influence of professional stress on an organization is seen in employee performance, decision-making, and workforce organization; such stress has a significant effect on management style and leadership, workplace morale, job satisfaction, quality of work in both manufacturing and service sectors of the economy, incidents of critical errors and mistakes, absenteeism, and the intention to switch jobs (Adriaenssens et al., 2015; Mosadeghrad, 2014). The following subsections will provide a detailed overview of the influence of occupational stress on the level of job satisfaction and employee productivity and explore how stress contributes to absenteeism.
Job satisfaction has a strong correlation with occupational stress because the higher the level of work-related stress, the more dissatisfied employees grow with the current work conditions (Chen et al., 2014; Griffiths et al., 2011). There are many studies exploring the connection between professional stress and job satisfaction, and all of them highlight that the influence of stress is devastating regardless of the field of professional activities and the past experiences of employees and management (Aftab & Javeed, 2014; Cevenini et al., 2012; Chen et al., 2014; Griffiths et al., 2011; Trivellas et al., 2013).
The feeling of stress in the workplace can be overwhelming, but it all starts when employees feel a loss of control over events in the work environment. The causes of occupational stress may differ from heavy workloads and excessive pressure from senior management to taxing job duties and conflicts with other team members (Griffiths et al., 2011; Trivellas et al., 2013). However, in nearly all cases, professional stress results in a sensation of helplessness and fatigue accompanied by anxiety and a lack of hope for career development (Trivellas et al., 2013). Similar workplace situations are possible to avoid or moderate, but doing so requires the provision of a social support system and the effective implementation of such professionals in the workplace environment (Griffiths et al., 2011). If such systems are unavailable, and an employee or the whole team is left alone with ineffective models of communication and with no support from leaders or senior management, they cannot find relief in the workplace, leading them to negative emotions and dissatisfaction with their working environment (Griffiths et al., 2011; RAND, 2015). If these feelings of devastation and helplessness persist without being properly addressed, they have an adverse effect on the level of job satisfaction and increase the risk for anxiety disorders, aggression, depression, and emotional burnout (Adriaenssens et al., 2015; Griffiths et al., 2011; Hakanen & Schaufeli, 2012).
The understanding of work-related stress and its influence on job satisfaction can be complemented by reviewing the research by Adriaenssens et al. (2015), who offered a model of job characteristics that is beneficial for estimating the levels of satisfaction with work conditions and occupational stress. There are three vital elements of the model: job control, job demands, and social support (Adriaenssens et al., 2015). Job control refers to the feeling of freedom and the sense of opportunity for career development and career switching in case of need. When an individual has job control, he or she fulfills job duties in a comfortable environment and assumes full responsibility for decisions made and actions taken. Moreover, job control is the knowledge that no pressure on the part of a team leader or senior management can affect career opportunities. Simply speaking, job control is about being confident in one’s self and future possibilities for development (Adriaenssens et al., 2015). This aspect is integral to job demands-the list of job duties and responsibilities, the hierarchy of functions in a team, and the interaction between senior and junior team members. Adriaenssens et al. considered that in an ideal world, job demands would refer only to carrying out the functions predetermined by the employment contract, but in practice, there might be additional pressure from managers that force employees to work beyond the determined scope of responsibilities. Finally, social support is the system of social justice incorporated and operating within an organization; it strives to create a friendly atmosphere in the working environment, enhance trust and open communication between team members, and recognize the significance of occupational health (Adriaenssens et al., 2015).
There are numerous scientific studies pointing to the existence of the correlation between workplace stress and the job dissatisfaction mentioned above (Aftab & Javeed, 2014; Cevenini et al., 2012; Chen et al., 2014; Trivellas et al., 2013). One of the primary findings from recent investigations is that the trend toward low job satisfaction in cases of high occupational stress is strong across all spheres of professional activities. For example, studies point to the high risk of work-related stress among financial counselors (Griffiths et al., 2011). Because financial counselors work in isolation from social support networks and the significance of their hard work is usually underestimated, these employees tend to experience high levels of occupational stress. Griffiths et al. (2011) maintained that the issue is more severe in remote areas or in small companies lacking the resources for appropriate educational and preventative measures, including the implementation of stress coping strategies. Moreover, these positions are known to have an older workforce and constantly increasing workloads (Griffiths et al., 2011). Griffiths et al. also underscored that even though only around 7% of respondents among financial counselors reported being dissatisfied with work conditions because of reasons connected to occupational stress, the figures are higher in other professional disciplines, and no employee can avoid it, regardless of whether they are employed in a blue-collar job or as an engineer in the aircraft industry. It is especially significant to note that the level of workplace stress is one of the most effective tools for estimating the level of job satisfaction and is even used to forecast changes in the latter (Griffiths et al., 2011). Addressing the challenge of work-related stress by creating a friendly atmosphere in the workplace, moderating workloads, and fostering other preventative measures is one of the best options for increasing job satisfaction and improving employee performance and financial outcomes for an organization (Griffiths et al., 2011).
Employees who frequently work with people and fulfill job duties known for heavy overloads are at a higher risk of losing their job satisfaction. Healthcare workers are the best representation of this fact. The high pressure and heavy workloads that are common in this career field result in high turnover intentions and low job satisfaction (Cevenini et al., 2012; Trivellas et al., 2013). Cevenini et al. (2012) argued that medical workers are exposed to the risks of the decreased job satisfaction because of the lack of social appraisal for their work. Because they are not often rewarded, healthcare professionals tend to feel demotivated and believe that their work is ineffective, despite saving thousands of lives annually. Such feelings may include anxiety and stress, which foster a desire to quit or an unwillingness to improve and develop professionally (Cevenini et al., 2012). Moreover, Trivellas et al. (2013) claimed that there are other stress-related reasons for growing dissatisfied with work conditions. The authors highlighted that healthcare professionals are usually involved in constant conflicts with colleagues and lack access to information about preventative measures and management of the work environment. Because their work is inseparable from heavy workloads, the lack of career opportunities, a negative and death-infused atmosphere, and a feeling of responsibility for human life, medical workers are at a higher risk of occupational stress and have lower job satisfaction compared to workers in other industries (Trivellas et al., 2013).
Any change in one or more constituents of the work environment brings about corresponding changes in levels of job satisfaction and work-related stress. That being said, positive changes-such as introducing a system of rewards and benefits or moderating workloads-have a positive effect on job satisfaction, fostering dedication and motivating employees to make more effort to carry out predetermined job duties. However, the opposite case is also true; negative changes in work environment lead to decreased satisfaction and increased stress (Adriaenssens et al., 2015). All three aspects of the job characteristics model described above appear in one form or another throughout various studies of professional stress in different sectors of the economy such as those conducted by Aftab and Javeed (2014), Cevenini et al. (2012), Griffiths et al. (2011), RAND (2015), Trivellas et al. (2013), and others.
Other studies point to high levels of job dissatisfaction in public service positions, highlighting the critical role of little appreciation and uneven workloads (Kula & Sahin, 2015; Obiora & Iwuoha, 2013). For example, Obiora and Iwuoha (2013) underscored the significance of employees having a rewarding and self-satisfying feeling about their work. If an individual fulfills job functions in poor work conditions accompanied by low or unequal pay, overloads, hazardous working conditions, and difficulties in work–life balance, he or she is more likely to experience higher levels of occupational stress, contributing to lower levels of job satisfaction. The issues mentioned above are common for public service positions and impose an additional emotional strain on workers (Obiora & Iwuoha, 2013). According to Kula and Sahin (2015), the risks of low job satisfaction are higher when employees must work in hazardous conditions and under a constant threat to health and well-being. Even though the authors focused on the physical safety of employees operating in the law enforcement sector, they recognized that the link between physical safety and emotional well-being is strong, with the first having a strong and direct effect on the latter (Kula & Sahin, 2015). Although both groups of researchers investigated the cases of people fulfilling job duties in different sectors around the world, they arrived at identical conclusions that underscore the role that low pay and overtime have in contributing to employee dissatisfaction with work conditions in public sector careers. Both sets of researchers also noted these factors are the primary contributors to increasing turnover rates and wasted human resources, directly affecting the operational outcomes of organizations and the opportunities for future growth (Kula & Sahin, 2015; Obiora & Iwuoha, 2013). The same point was made by Dias et al. (2016), whose research focused on petroleum industry workers; in the systematic review of studies identifying the factors that affect workers’ job satisfaction; the drivers related to physical conditions prevailed. These drivers included such factors as climatic conditions, ventilation, lighting, noise level, safety conditions and the likelihood of becoming injured at work, and the length and frequency of their shifts that often clashed with their needs for rest and night sleep.
Low job satisfaction is a common cause of employees’ desire to switch jobs, which, in turn, becomes the basis for turnover intention and high turnover rates. According to the findings of a recent research study, a combination of multiple factors entails a decrease in job satisfaction determined by occupational stress (Kelly & Barrett, 2011). The same is true about turnover intentions related to workplace stress. To invoke the desire in employees to change places, job dissatisfaction must be accompanied by other more significant issues such as frequent conflicts at work, excessive pressure from management, or an overly dominant supervisor (Kelly & Barrett, 2011). Even though there are several factors that minimize the risk of turnover intentions – such as employee marital status, gender, job experience, and age – the correlation between turnover intentions and job dissatisfaction is significantly affected by the level of occupational stress (Adriaenssens et al., 2015; Chen et al., 2014).
Some studies offer suggestions for increasing job satisfaction (Maran, Varetto, Zedda, & Ieraci, 2015; Teo et al., 2013). The primary mechanism of these strategies is to decrease the level of occupational stress or, at least, moderate its negative influences. Both Teo et al. (2013) and Maran et al. (2015) promoted employee involvement and participation as the foundation for reducing professional stress and increasing job satisfaction. The motivation behind these and similar recommendations comes from the view of job dissatisfaction as the result of a lack of job control and social support (Adriaenssens et al., 2015). Enhancing cooperation between individuals and senior management and making a joint effort to cope with current organizational issues stimulates feelings of self-confidence and importance within a working environment, thus, increasing the level of job satisfaction (Adriaenssens et al., 2015; Maran et al., 2015; Teo et al.).
The findings of the investigations mentioned above point to the existence of a strong correlation between occupational stress and job satisfaction, highlighting that the working environment is the major stressor that leads to lower job satisfaction (Kula & Sahin, 2015; Obiora & Iwuoha, 2013). Lack of job control, career progress opportunities, and social approval are factors that further aggravate the challenge; many employees, especially those employed by companies operating in the public sector, feel a lack of public gratitude and thus feel unimportant and see no meaning in their work (Griffiths et al., 2011; Kula & Sahin, 2015; Obiora & Iwuoha, 2013; Trivellas et al., 2013). This sense contributes to demotivation and helplessness, which may make the employee unwilling to develop new skills and obtain the necessary knowledge to fulfill job duties and help others (Cevenini et al., 2012; Hakanen & Schaufeli, 2012). Therefore, the level of occupational stress skyrockets, leaving employees dissatisfied with their lives and their work.
In addition, turnover could be one of the coping strategies that are employed by the workers suffering from occupational stress and emotional burnout. Practically, this is one of the strategies that are used as a response to the work environment, conditions, and demands that are perceived negatively and thus are avoided consciously or unconsciously; such strategies clash significantly with the workplace expectations placed on the employees by their employers because turnover results in the overall decrease of the organizational performance and can even lead to the loss of revenue over a lengthy period (Chang & Taylor, 2013).
Closely related to the challenge of occupational stress and job satisfaction is the problem of employee absenteeism (Petarli et al., 2015). Alternately, this phenomenon refers to employees ignoring work schedules and not attending work (Prater & Smith, 2011). A hazardous workplace environment, the risk of work-related injuries, low pay, and frequent conflict with colleagues are common causes of employee absenteeism (Prater & Smith, 2011). However, taking a closer look at the factors that contribute to absenteeism, it becomes evident that they are synonymous with the causes of occupational stress. In fact, the more determiners of work-related stress such as emotional burnout and depression occur in a workplace-the higher the risks of absenteeism (Daniel, 2015).
Regardless of the nature of the working environment and the causes of occupational stress, two groups of factors foster absenteeism: subjective and objective. It was the conclusion of Meško et al. (2013) that, in some cases, absenteeism is forced and may even be the best choice for guaranteeing safety in the workplace. According to Meško et al., it is imperative to point out the difference between subjective and objective causes of absenteeism. Subjective reasons are synonymous with individual perceptions of the workplace; they can include being dissatisfied with work conditions, growing tired of ineffective communication strategies, having no job control or career opportunities, and feeling helpless and fatigued. Generally speaking, subjective causes of absenteeism cover personal concerns related to the psychological well-being of an individual and his or her comfort in the workplace (Meško et al., 2013). On the other hand, objective reasons are not determined by an employee or organization, but rather refer to the unpredictable and uncontrollable external environment and situations that contribute to the choice to miss work. These reasons usually involve some serious health concerns, natural disasters, or political and military developments.
Meško et al. (2013) claimed that in cases of serious objective causes, especially regarding health concerns such as a lack of focus or concentration, absenteeism is justifiable and may even be the best possible option. In this rationale, it is better and safer for an employee to stay away from work in cases of extremity given the potential opportunity to save the life of the absent individual or even those surrounding him or her. These decisions are extremely important when considering professional activities of doctors or those who work in hazardous environments and are responsible for dangerous activities such as construction or working with weapons.
Absenteeism can be further encouraged by feelings of demotivation caused by a lack of social appreciation or gratitude of one’s work. These instances are frequent among healthcare professionals, financial counselors, and public service workers (Griffiths et al., 2011; Kula & Sahin, 2015 Obiora & Iwuoha, 2013; Trivellas et al., 2013). Because these positions are usually known for low pay and heavy workloads, those employed within these sectors of the economy end up thinking that their work is not important-so there is no reason to attend and fulfill job duties (Kelly & Barrett, 2011; Teo et al., 2013).
Significantly, this challenge of absenteeism is closely related to the concept of occupational health because employers are legally obligated to provide employees with the necessary care to promote emotional and physical well-being and to eliminate any physical hazards in the workplace. Similarly, organizations must minimize the risks of occupational stress, as the costs deriving from the negative outcomes of occupational stress are spectacular (The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, 2014). For example, Prater and Smith (2011) highlighted that American companies spend $83 billion annually to combat the consequences of depression and anxiety disorders among employees.
Causes and determiners of absenteeism
Absenteeism is a serious organizational problem common for countries and industries around the globe. According to the findings of Sharma and Magotra (2013), around 10% of employees do not attend work regularly, ignoring the fulfillment of job duties and the significant role they play in achieving organizational objectives. This form of work and workplace disengagement is often the result of occupational stress that forces people to experience emotional burnout and a strong desire to lower this level of stress by means of deliberately minimizing their job duties and tasks, alleviating their own work-related pressure through doing less work or even staying from the workplaces (Amarakoon, 2015; Robertson & Cooper, 2009). There are several significant antecedents that predetermine absenteeism intentions. As mentioned above, such antecedents are divided into personal and organizational factors (Chakraborty & Subramanya, 2013; Tadesse, Ebrahim, & Gizaw, 2015). However, paying more precise attention to the causes leading to absenteeism is a valuable contribution to the understanding of occupational stress and employee productivity. Lack of public appreciation, low pay, and heavy workloads are not the only causes of absenteeism. It is also fostered by a great number of different determinants of occupational stress such as job dissatisfaction, bullying in the workplace, a strenuous atmosphere, unrealistic job demands having nothing to do with job duties, a lack of positive interventions aimed at promoting employees’ physical and mental well-being and improving the working environment, and ignoring the significance of health and employee well-being (RAND, 2015; Tadesse et al., 2015). It has been further highlighted that the opposite of these determinants enhances positive presenteeism, contributing to higher levels of employee productivity and lower levels of occupational stress. Moreover, according to RAND (2015), the intentions to miss work are motivated by low employee performance and a failure to meet quality requirements, especially when systems of sanctions are implemented within a working environment.
Tadesse et al. (2015) maintained that absenteeism has origins in mental sicknesses. Even though it is caused by occupational stress, its roots go beyond work conditions and extend to social bias and prejudice; indeed, not only do heavy workloads contribute to absenteeism but also belonging to a racial, religious, or gender minority does. Findings by Tadesse et al. (2015) can be supplemented by the results of the investigation conducted by Chakraborty and Subramanya (2013), which pointed to the strong correlation between absenteeism intentions and sociocultural factors such as age, sex, educational background, and marital status; personal cognitive matters such as substance abuse, constant emotional fatigue, and depression; and organizational factors including heavy workloads, gross pay, and overtime shifts. Indeed, these three groups of factors-sociocultural, personal, and organizational-predetermine one’s disposition to absenteeism and aggravate the severity of the sickness (Chakraborty & Subramanya, 2013; Tadesse et al., 2015).
Several groups of researchers, namely Tadesse et al. (2015), Chakraborty and Subramanya (2013), and Sharma and Magotra (2013), have pointed to the influence of gender on the intention to miss work. More specifically, women are more likely to miss work than men. There are several reasons for this phenomenon. First of all, women are typically responsible for a variety of functions at home including childrearing, which is why some women find it especially difficult to find a balance between personal life and work. On the other hand, men are often assumed to be the breadwinners. For this reason, the responsibility to attend work and earn money is higher for men, thus leading to lower rates of absenteeism compared to women. It is paramount to note that there is no distinction between industries of operation or positions occupied within a company; indeed, the trend is always the same. The persistence of this connection may also be integral with the nature of men and women, as men are generally more resistant to stress than women, who can be weaker in work-related areas and may be more exposed to occupational stress (Sharma & Magotra, 2013). However, there is no direct connection between marital status and absenteeism intentions, as single employees (i.e., those without a significant other and children) tend to skip work more often for various reasons, including the desire to actualize themselves in their personal lives and the deep responsibility they feel to take care of and support their parents, families, and elderly relatives (Sharma & Magotra, 2013).
The next determiner of absenteeism intention is the tenure of an employee. This correlation is easy to associate with human nature, as a longer tenure implies a higher level of confidence in the future, thus, leading to more frequent instances of absenteeism. It is worth mentioning that this correlation is contemporary, as it is affected by the volume of tenure (Sharma & Magotra, 2013). Once an individual begins to lack confidence in his or her future well-being and feels the need to increase income, he or she will skip work less frequently and focus on improving performance, as it is directly connected to financial well-being.
Work experience has a strong correlation to absenteeism. To put it simply, those who have worked with a company for many years are more likely to ignore it, unlike the newly employed (Sharma & Magotra, 2013). The rationale behind this trend is similar to the case of the length of tenure, as lengthy experience brings a sort of confidence in future career progress that a lack of experience and perceived knowledge does not. Moreover, it is closely related to the opportunity of switching jobs because employees with more experience have greater chances for filling well-paid positions. However, the correlation between age and work attendance is just the opposite, as older employees are more likely to be responsible when it comes to attending work and fulfilling job duties than younger colleagues who do not yet have this sense of responsibility (Sharma & Magotra, 2013). The explanation of this phenomenon is that once employees grow devoted to the workplace, they develop a habit of regularly attending over long years of life and work.
In addition to the determiners mentioned above, Sharma and Magotra (2013) underscored the role of remuneration in estimating the rate of absenteeism. The revealed trend was relatively simple: those who are paid more attend work more regularly than people who earn less money. The basis of this phenomenon is either relative importance of the positions, as those receiving higher wages usually have more responsibility and authority, or the sense of power and the fear of losing it. Regardless of the causes of this trend, it exists, and it is strong. Indeed, wages are impossible to separate from levels of job satisfaction and intentions regarding absenteeism. According to the findings of Sharma and Magotra (2013), those who are paid more tend to be more satisfied with the positions they occupy within a company, which is why they give preference to attending work. In this way, higher job satisfaction directly affects presenteeism in its positive representation.
As identified by Sharma and Magotra (2013), there is also a connection between absenteeism and an effective and comprehensive system of rewards and benefits. More specifically, promotion and confidence in career progress have a direct influence on lower instances of absenteeism. The same is true about being rewarded for a high level of employee performance. On the other hand, those who do not feel the positive effect of the system of promotion and rewards are more likely to be absent from work because they feel demotivated and do not see the point in attending work (Sharma & Magotra, 2013).
Finally, Sharma and Magotra (2013) underscored the significance of personal perceptions of the workplace environment and the influence they have on job dedication and work attendance. These perceptions depend on every aspect of workplace organization, from the choice of management strategy and communication model to the implementation of professional policies aimed at reducing workplace stress and mitigating its consequences. The primary idea is the following: if an employee’s worldview is negative and he or she believes that organizational strategies promote inequality, then that employee will prefer to be absent from work. On the other hand, a positive perception of the working environment and the managerial techniques in place invokes a desire to be present at work and fosters an increase in job performance (Sharma & Magotra, 2013).
The perception of the workplace is impossible to separate from interpersonal communication skills. When it comes to estimating absenteeism intentions and giving preference to attending work, the role of communication is critical. The instances of open and trust-based communication are the determinants of higher rates of work attendance, while ineffective communication skills add to the establishment of a strenuous atmosphere in the workplace and more frequent cases of absenteeism (Sharma & Magotra, 2013).
The only drawback of the studies mentioned above is that they do not estimate the significance of leadership style, focusing only on personal and organizational factors contributing to employee absenteeism (Chakraborty & Subramanya, 2013; RAND, 2015; Sharma & Magotra, 2013; Tadesse et al., 2015). The study by Mayfield and Mayfield (2009) is helpful for filling this gap. The authors investigated the complex phenomenon of absenteeism from the perspective of leadership style and the use of motivational language. They concluded that frequent occurrences of motivational language are beneficial for decreasing the level of intentions regarding absenteeism because this communication strategy directly addresses the individual need for gratitude and public appraisal (Mayfield & Mayfield, 2009). Moreover, the friendly and inspiring behavior of a leader stimulates desirable changes in the work environment, including dedication and perseverance that have a positive influence on the organization’s performance and employee productivity (Mayfield & Mayfield, 2009).
According to the findings of Mayfield and Mayfield (2009), absenteeism intentions are further connected to the organization’s reaction to employees missing work. The emphasis is on the response of the employee’s team leader or senior management. Using strict control measures or deploying sanctions without making an attempt to find out the cause for being absent (i.e., reacting negatively to employee absenteeism) engenders further instances of absenteeism in the future. On the other hand, addressing the experience of absenteeism positively by implementing steps to avoid it in the future without using sanctions contributes to positive changes in the working environment. Indeed, the employees and other team members will grow more dedicated and attend work more regularly, making the maximum effort to benefit the company (Mayfield & Mayfield, 2009).
Absenteeism and presenteeism
Because workplace stress significantly affects the psychological well-being of individuals, the issue of absenteeism should be viewed in terms of emotional burnout and other mental concerns. First and foremost, it is paramount to note that burnout is characterized by a sense of constant mental fatigue, feelings of helplessness and demotivation, an unwillingness to complete work, a loss of concentration, and procrastination (Hakanen & Schaufeli, 2012). Hakanen and Schaufeli (2012) stated that in the most severe cases, burnout could lead to depression, substance addiction, despair, anger, aggression, and other self-destructive behaviors (Martin et al., 2013). These cases are among the instances of justified, objective absenteeism because the individual requires professional help before getting back to work with colleagues. The challenge is especially severe for public servants and healthcare professionals. The difficulty with depression is that some of its physical symptoms such as nausea, stomachaches, headaches, and diarrhea are common and not only related to the severe mental health concerns (Prater & Smith, 2011). For this reason, some individuals choose to ignore them and attend work anyway. Emotional burnout and depression caused by occupational stress are among the most common reasons for absenteeism (Daniel, 2015; Meško et al., 2013; Prater & Smith, 2011). However, there is another negative phenomenon closely related to absenteeism that is called presenteeism. This term refers to the situation of employees always being present at work, even while ignoring health concerns, signs of depression or burnout, and potentially negative consequences for productivity that presenteeism might lead to (Martin et al., 2013). Working under such conditions, in most cases, becomes a source of further threats to the individual’s health, which only aggravates the effects of occupational stress and emotional burnout. This phenomenon is one of the aspects of presenteeism (i.e., always being present at work) and making a maximum effort to fulfill job duties, even while ignoring physical signs and the potential effect on organizational outcomes and the well-being of colleagues (Martin et al., 2013). This phenomenon is described in detail by Martin et al. (2013), who found that around 30% of Americans experience severe health concerns but do not seek professional help; instead choosing to attend work out of a fear of being fired and thus losing an opportunity to make a living, accompanied with the further exacerbations of occupational and personal stress on their work and family relationships. This vicious cycle is impossible to disrupt because it requires the involvement of the affected individual-forceful activities on the part of senior management will lead to no positive outcomes.
Prater and Smith (2011) pointed to the negative effect of presenteeism on the performance of both the affected individual, who has shown up to work while ignoring health concerns and his or her colleagues. The primary challenge in attending work while suffering from serious health concerns is the risk of spreading a contagious disease to other members of a team (Prater & Smith, 2011). Similar cases are frequent and influence organizations negatively, as they force senior executives to increase spending to cope with illness and promote health. According to Prater and Smith, not only do ordinary employees tend to ignore the signals of their bodies and attend work out of a fear of being punished or sanctioned for the absence; managers and team leaders who are responsible for the physical and emotional well-being of their colleagues also choose to be present at work while ignoring the need for professional help and increasing the risk of infecting others. Such rash acts have a negative effect on both individual and organizational performance, as physical health is the foundation of emotional well-being and reduces the risks of occupational stress (The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, 2014; RAND, 2015).
In conclusion, the opinions on absenteeism in recent research highlight that, in most cases, this phenomenon is closely related to high levels of occupational stress (Hakanen & Schaufeli, 2012; Martin et al., 2013). Moreover, it is worth noting that the antecedents of absenteeism are synonymous with the causes of work-related stress and that addressing them may be a valuable step for coping with the challenge of distress at work. Even though there are other determiners of absenteeism such as organizational, personal, sociocultural, and health-related factors (Chakraborty & Subramanya, 2013; RAND, 2015; Tadesse et al., 2015), they are all contributors to work-related stress; thus, fostering absenteeism. Still, there is some conflict of opinion, because Meško et al. (2013) justified absenteeism in cases related to well-being or safety, while most findings highlight its negativity (Daniel, 2015; Hakanen & Schaufeli, 2012; Martin et al., 2013).
Employee productivity is the ability of an employee to complete assigned tasks by meeting set deadlines and using available procedures and technologies (Campbell, 2015). Roelofsen (2012) defined productivity as “the increased functional and organizational performance, including quality” (p. 248). In other words, productivity means that employees have enough competence and knowledge to meet quality expectations and defined timeframes (Roelofsen, 2012). Sometimes, the term also refers to the possibility of exceeding the determined tasks without impairing the quality of the finished product or service. Because employees form the foundation of the organizational and financial success of a company, employee productivity is seen as the natural determiner for organizational success. For the same reason, reaching a higher level of employee productivity is the primary strategic objective of most organizations across all industries (Hanaysha, 2016).
According to the findings of Hanaysha (2016) and Sharma and Sharma (2014), employee productivity has a positive effect on organizational development for several reasons. First and foremost, it is the foundation of a company’s economic growth, as higher outputs lead to more active economic development and growth rates. For the same reason, it entails higher profitability and improves organizational image because a company turns into a synonym for economic success (Hanaysha, 2016; Sharma & Sharma, 2014). In addition to fostering economic development and supporting higher profitability rates, increased employee productivity is the foundation of social progress. The rationale behind this statement is that with greater productivity, an organization gains more social influence and control, obtaining the opportunity to drive changes in society that benefit both the company itself and the population of a particular country.
Along with the organizational changes and developments mentioned above, higher rates of employee productivity are a great source of motivation for employees and inspire them to be more creative. Indeed, employees grow interested in the future success of their organization because it will benefit them through higher wages, better career prospects, and greater chances for success in life (Hanaysha, 2016; Sharma & Sharma, 2014). The basis of employee motivation to develop professionally is the recognition of the significance of increased effectiveness for both organizational and individual prosperity (Hanaysha, 2016).
In addition, higher employee productivity goes hand in hand with lower rates of absenteeism and occupational stress and higher rates of job satisfaction. The justification for the existence of this trend is that productivity suffers when the number of hours spent by employees on fulfilling job duties decreases or when the employees miss work (Hanaysha, 2016). Instead, employees’ dedication to the organization and their maximum efforts to meet quality and recruitment requirements are the foundation of high productivity. The negative perceptions of work conditions caused by occupational stress, burnout, and depression are among the primary threats to employee productivity (Hakanen & Schaufeli, 2012). The problem is especially acute for companies working in the service industry, as aggression, cynicism, and negativity that can appear as the signs of occupational stress and burnout often lead to poor quality of service. Low employee productivity affects not only the prospects of an individual working with a company but also the whole organization because the poorer the quality of manufactured goods or provided services causes a drop in customer satisfaction (Hakanen & Schaufeli, 2012).
To conclude, employee productivity is among the major features to be negatively influenced by the existence of occupational stress. Even though there are a variety of opinions on the concept of employee productivity and its connection with work-related stress, all of them point to the existence of a negative correlation between the two, as higher levels of stress at work inevitably entail lower levels of employee productivity (Chen et al., 2014; Kelly & Barrett, 2011; Roelofsen, 2012). Still, the primary emphasis is given to the atmosphere of the working environment, whether related to the emotional or physical aspects of working conditions (Campbell, 2015; Roelofsen, 2012), and to the importance of allowing employees to reach a work–life balance because it is a tool for fostering dedication and increasing employee productivity (Kelly & Barrett, 2011; Roelofsen, 2012).
Approaches to defining employee productivity
There are many different approaches to defining employee productivity. For example, RAND (2015) designed the environmental approach to discussing the phenomenon. According to the conclusions of RAND, employee productivity should be estimated from the perspective of three constituents: work environment factors, health and physical factors, and personal factors. The work environment aspects of employee productivity include organizational issues such as workplace atmosphere, instances of conflicts between coworkers, and corporate policies. Timeframes for completing appointed tasks, managerial strategies, and different interventions designed to improve the working atmosphere, employee productivity, and communication within teams and departments are determinants of employee productivity as well. The second constituent, health and physical factors, covers any health concerns and conditions that might have a short-term or long-term influence on the physical and mental well-being of an employee. It is important to note that these factors are predetermined by the external environment and are not connected to personal development. Finally, personal factors are those related to personal attitudes, perceptions, and lifestyle that affect employee performance and organizational outcomes (RAND, 2015). Furthermore, Chen et al. (2014) claimed that estimating the determinants that have a direct influence on employee productivity is helpful for understanding the phenomenon. For example, the authors emphasized the importance of absenteeism rates, stress levels, and job satisfaction. The primary idea is the following: lower rates of absenteeism and lower levels of occupational stress accompanied by high levels of job satisfaction are the major determinants of a high employee productivity rate. The specificity of this approach is the use of interviews, questionnaires, and employee feedback as the tool for collecting necessary information (Chen et al., 2014).
Another unique approach to determining the level of employee productivity is the one designed by Cevenini et al. (2012), who posited that there are six important dimensions of employee productivity that should be addressed and measured. These dimensions are the ability to find the right balance between work and private life, interpersonal relationships including communication and the frequency of conflicts in the workplace, the fulfillment of job duties and relevance of job responsibilities, the desire to enhance personal growth and sensitivity to changes in the work environment, the correspondence of roles in the workplace, and the organizational structure of a team or a department (Cevenini et al., 2012). This approach is one of the most comprehensive ones, as it addresses many aspects of the work environment including the challenges related to working with other team members.
The approaches to estimating employee productivity offered by Chen et al. (2014) and Cevenini et al. (2012) were comprehensive ones involving numerous details for analysis. For this reason, they could be quite difficult to use, and some researchers may prefer methods for estimating employee productivity that have less detail and fewer requirements. For example, Hanaysha (2016) proposed measuring employee productivity as output during a determined timeframe. This output could be measured using both qualitative and quantitative approaches. The first one stands for meeting quality requirements or standards determined by the employer. The quantitative perspective for estimating performance comes down to the number of completed tasks or the amount of provided services. The issue is also impossible to view apart from meeting company requirements in terms of quantity. The foundation of another approach mentioned by Hanaysha (2016) and Sharma and Sharma (2014) was measuring the number of hours spent at the workplace. Because this measurement lacks reliability on its own, it is supplemented by pointing to the significance of being mentally present at work (i.e., completing tasks in time and satisfying quality requirements; Hanaysha, 2016; Sharma & Sharma, 2014).
Strategies for Minimizing Occupational Stress and Its Consequences
Because occupational stress is a complex organizational and societal phenomenon, it requires the development and implementation of comprehensive techniques to minimize the risks of its emergence and mitigate its negative personal and organizational consequences. These strategies should be based on the specific needs of people and organizations-meaning that they should be highly customized because of the impossibility of inventing a one-size-fits-all formula for effective stress coping techniques (Meško et al., 2013). In particular, there exists a wide variety of strategies aimed at the minimization of work-related stress. Some of them are designed in order to be applied by organizations and their managers, and some are the self-management strategies used by employees independently and sometimes even unconsciously. When it comes to the employees’ performance, in many cases, it can suffer significantly due to the workers’ choice of the coping strategies that clash with the job demands and expectations (Chang & Taylor, 2013). It is critical for the organizations to make sure that the strategies applied by the employees stimulate healthy workplace environments and result in the maintenance of the desired levels of workplace performance without causing disengagement and absenteeism.
Meško et al. (2013) argued for the division of strategies aimed at coping with stress into two groups: those focused on problems and those focused on emotions. This categorized approach is easy to apply to coping techniques for both individuals and organizations. According to the findings of Meško et al., strategies focusing on problems are helpful for solving problems that emerge in the workplace. For example, a possible problem-focused strategy would address low job satisfaction or seek ways to enhance employee’s motivation and desire to fulfill job duties effectively. The primary idea behind this type of strategy is its contemporary effect; in the case of addressing the existing matter of concern and mitigating its influence, there is no sense in preserving the strategy, so the related activities cease while management waits for the emergence of similar challenges in the future (Meško et al., 2013).
As for the emotion-focused strategies, their significance for combating occupational stress is vital, and studies show they are effective (Meško et al., 2013). The primary specificity of these coping techniques is their comprehensive and permanent character. In this case, the focus of the strategy is on preventative measures, instead of addressing a problem that has already emerged. The basis of this type of strategy is long-term tools for preventing stress, focusing on the emotional well-being of employees as the foundation of their performance and job satisfaction, as well as a natural barrier against occupational stress. More specifically, Meško et al. (2013) identified the necessity of investing in establishing a friendly atmosphere in the workplace by enhancing trust and openness in communication and building a democratic management and leadership style to minimize the risks of work-related stress. It is assumed that feeling supported by other team members and eradicating the possibility of prejudice on the basis of racial, religious, educational, gender, or any other background is the best option for organizing friendly workplace relations and diminishing the threats of occupational stress (Meško et al., 2013).
Teo et al. (2013) further investigated the effectiveness of problem-focused and emotion-focused strategies for reducing occupational stress. The authors recognized the significance of designing a strategy that incorporates elements of both techniques mentioned above, as the proposed strategy would aim at both creating a friendly environment in the workplace and addressing any problems that emerge in the course of work activities (Teo et al., 2013). However, the primary emphasis of this strategy remains on the necessity and significance of cooperation and involvement. It is assumed that no strategy will be effective if employees do not actively participate in its design and implementation. Teo et al. underscored the importance of free and open communication and encouraging employees to share insights on ways to improve organizational stress coping strategies by adding any aspects they find valuable and eliminating any elements they believe are unimportant. The idea behind this strategy is quite simple: Employee participation enhances the feeling of importance in a team; every time an employee has an opportunity to discuss and propose changes, his or her confidence in career opportunities and feeling of job control increase, leading to a higher level of job satisfaction and a lower level of occupational stress. In addition, choosing communication and employee involvement as the foundation of the stress-coping strategy will allow the organization to craft a completely unique technique for coping with stress at work because every individual who shares his or her particular needs makes the strategy more comprehensive and human-centered (Teo et al., 2013).
Organizational and individual strategies for reducing work-related stress
The most significant breakthrough in the current research on stress coping strategies is that implementing organizational strategies for mitigating the consequences of stress is not a comprehensive step for addressing the problem (Mosadeghrad, 2014). Indeed, even the most effective and well-thought-out strategy that focuses on the needs of individuals and the objectives of organizational development cannot fully address the challenge of occupational stress if it is not supplemented by an individual stress coping strategy for a particular employee (Mosadeghrad, 2014). In other words, each individual working with the company should design his or her own technique for overcoming workplace stress, because, first of all, it is impossible for management to address the needs of all employees, especially in multinational corporations. Second, organizational strategies really serve as a framework for actions that establish the scope of the organization’s responsibilities and determine potential steps it could take to promote the psychological well-being of its staff (Mosadeghrad, 2014). For example, the company can conduct training and teach employees how to mitigate the influence of stress at work. The organization can also take steps to prevent stress by creating a friendly atmosphere in the workplace or enhancing equality, but no company can implement comprehensive techniques that address the needs of all employees; ultimately, individual well-being falls within the scope of responsibility of an individual (Mosadeghrad, 2014).
Some of the individual strategies for minimizing the risks of occupational stress and mitigating its negative consequences recommended by Mosadeghrad (2014) include leading a healthy lifestyle by giving preference to healthy food and being active in sports, developing time management and interpersonal communication skills to avoid overloads and conflicts in the workplace, and meditating. The following illustration serves as one good example of the required level of cooperation between an organization and an individual: a company can afford to design the space for meditation, but it cannot force employees to meditate when they are experiencing particular difficulties in the workplace. The same is true about the introduction of a social support system in a team: even though an organization might choose to invest in the establishment of the social support department, senior management cannot force employees to share their troubles with professionals and seek ways to overcome them (Mosadeghrad, 2014).
The organization of a work environment, the effectiveness of its management, and the overall image of the company have a robust effect on the levels of occupational stress and employee productivity, as a consequence. Campbell (2015) pointed to the existence of the following trend: High employee productivity is under the influence of the positive perception of the organization’s brand and image in the eyes of society, as well as the selection of effective management and communication strategies, especially those that encourage openness in sharing opinions and participation in making vital decisions. Moreover, this phenomenon is inseparable from senior management’s perception of the significance of work-life balance. When a company recognizes and guarantees the right employees have to live their own personal lives and helps them reach a healthy balance, they will grow more dedicated and make greater efforts toward reaching organizational objectives and working to guaranteeing the successful future of their company (Campbell, 2015). On the other hand, if managers do not recognize the importance of a healthy work-life balance, employees will grow dissatisfied with organizational policies and strategies, thus becoming less productive and experiencing a higher rate of occupational stress (Campbell, 2015).
The recognition of the critical significance of work-life balance is incomplete without pointing to the importance of a comfortable workplace and working toward the establishment of a friendly working environment. Both Campbell (2015) and Roelofsen (2012) argued for the crucial influence of a comfortable workplace atmosphere on the level of employee productivity. In this way, comfort in the workplace is the primary tool for reducing the risks and negative consequences of occupational stress. However, it is worth mentioning that Roelofsen exceeded and investigated physical comfort instead of focusing on communication and interactions like Campbell did. The author found that specific levels of brightness of lighting, thermal conditions, office or building design, and noise levels enhance job productivity (Roelofsen, 2012). Another critical feature of a comfortable working environment is the strictness of control measures, as severe control has a negative influence on job productivity and increases occupational stress caused by role stress, while fulfilling job duties in a democratic environment with independence and freedom of choice has a positive effect on employees, decreasing the level of occupational stress and increasing productivity (Kelly & Barrett, 2011; Roelofsen, 2012).
To effectively address stress at work, it is also imperative to keep in mind the roots of this complex phenomenon and incorporate the primary aspects of the determinants into stress coping techniques. For example, according to Mosadeghrad (2014), women are at a higher risk of occupational stress because of the specificities of their emotional nature and their double loads, working both at home and at work. Managers should keep this specific feature of female employees in mind by creating a more comfortable environment in the workplace, guaranteeing rewards for overloads, and providing adequate social support (Mosadeghrad, 2014).
In particular, the authors of multiple research studies published throughout the last decade found that there exists a significant difference in the ways male and female employees experience occupational stress and respond to it (Cifre, Vera, & Signani, 2015; Drabek &Merecz, 2013; Miller et al., 2000). Namely, while the researchers repetitively found that the levels of stress experienced by male and female workers employed on the same positions are equal, they also noted that the reported and observable levels of work-related well-being were quite different. To be more precise, the researchers noticed that male workers seemed to cope with occupational stress in a more effective manner than their female peers (Cifre, Vera, & Signani, 2015; Drabek &Merecz, 2013; Miller et al., 2000). The theoretical background behind these findings was set based on the approach to the concept and phenomenon of occupations stress as quite diverse in regard to people’s personal traits and characteristics. In that way, the employees’ resistance and vulnerability to occupational stress is related to their individualities; however, in addition to the previous approach, the authors supporting this approach added the characteristics correlating with the employees’ genders (Cifre, Vera, & Signani, 2015; Drabek &Merecz, 2013; Miller et al., 2000).
The issue of gender is rather sensitive and even though there exists the body of research proving that there are differences in the ways men and women respond to stress, the workplaces attempting to adopt this approach and introduce different strategies aimed at the minimization of work-related stress should be very careful and avoid encouraging the division based on gender as such action could be perceived as discriminatory. After all, even though the findings may be true for certain groups of workers in certain workplaces and, to a certain extent, transferrable to larger populations, it is still important for the employers to remember that gender is an important social issue and not all males and females match the general statistics. For the purpose of introducing gender-based strategies successfully without disrupting the workplace environment and causing a social backlash, the employers are recommended to discuss this issue with the workers and finding out their attitudes and opinions prior to starting gender-based interventions.
Moreover, the researcher noted the existence of a correlation between the level of education (perceived knowledge) and the risk of occupational stress, as characterized by the following trend: lower academic performance entails lower chances for high-paid work; thus leading to higher risks of workplace stress (Mosadeghrad, 2014). The existence and strength of this trend points to the necessity of investing in the development of human resources. Of course, it is impossible to invest in all employees obtaining a college education, but most companies can afford to conduct training and provide enough educational materials so that each employee has enough competence to fulfill predetermined job duties appropriately and address workplace issues effectively. Furthermore, Mosadeghrad (2014) revealed the role of belonging to a racial or religious minority in invoking occupational stress. The problem is severely aggravated in the case of having only one representative of a minority on a team. This situation requires the development and implementation of a special minority-neutral strategy of communication and interaction between team members that enhances equity and respect for human dignity without regard to the religious or ethnic background (Mosadeghrad, 2014). The primary idea is to develop techniques to promote long-term occupational health in the workplace, as it is the foundation of not only employee well-being but also of the successful future of the organization as a whole.
Job characteristics helping to overcome the challenges
Furthermore, it is believed that there are three crucial job characteristics: job demands, job control, and social support (Adriaenssens et al., 2015). These aspects of the workplace, which are common causes of occupational stress, can become the foundation of another strategy for coping with the challenges of workplace stress. For instance, a lack of job control and opportunities for career progress can be addressed by implementing a communication and leadership strategy that fosters unbiased interactions between team members by estimating work progress on the basis of accomplishments and competence instead of subjective opinion. Moreover, overcoming a lack of social support is possible; using a strategy that enhances communication and equality, as mutual understanding of team members and shared feelings of trust are the best options for building the necessary support system, especially in cases related to feelings of helplessness, emotional burnout, or depression. Finally, the problem of job demands related to occupational stress is easy to mitigate by estimating the competence and knowledge of each individual and assigning tasks strictly within these levels of expertise and according to the list of job duties and responsibilities (Adriaenssens et al., 2015). Guaranteeing particular workloads, as overtime shifts are also a stressor pertaining to higher job demands, is an option for addressing this challenge. The primary idea is to accompany any changes in job characteristics with corresponding alterations in the organizational strategy for minimizing the risks of stress and coping with its negative consequences; in this way, employees will feel less stress because of innovations and can adapt to them with the necessary support that guarantees their emotional well-being.
Another comprehensive opinion on addressing occupational stress is that of Maran et al. (2015), demonstrating the significance of preventative measures as the foundation for any effective stress coping strategy. The authors regarded the best technique should incorporate both educational measures and social support (Maran et al., 2015). The authors emphasized the centrality of gender and race differences in the work environment. Based on the specificities of a team and employees, they offer strategies for coping with occupational stress and systems of social support. The challenge with this strategy requires individual involvement to foster positive changes in the working environment and mitigate the consequences of work-related stress (Maran et al., 2015). The focus is not only on the racial and gender composition of a team or an environment but also on the unique features of the work. For example, those who are functioning within a hazardous environment should have more detailed educational and preventative measures because of its a priori higher level of work-related stress.
One more beneficial strategy for reducing the risks of occupational stress within an organization relies on the development of an internal system for the exchange of information and feedback (Teo et al., 2013). There are two strategies for viewing this strategy-the roots and consequences of work-related stress. When estimating the causes of occupational stress, a lack of access to necessary or helpful information is one of the primary stressors (Cevenini et al., 2012; Trivellas et al., 2013). The issue is impossible to view apart from communication between team members and senior management when it comes to introducing changes and implementing strategies for increasing productivity or reducing stress. The consequences of inadequate access to information are the further aggravation of occupational stress and mistrust of management’s ability to address any significant organizational or developmental challenges. The development of channels for distributing information and gathering feedback is supplemented by the introduction of a participative management style that increases employee involvement as the foundation for combating work-related stress (Maran et al., 2015). This strategy mitigates the negative consequences of occupational stress because it enhances job satisfaction and focuses on communication, which is the key to effective interactions and feelings of job control.
There are also several stress-coping strategies offered by Chan, Jeung, and Yu (2012). The foundation of their approach is the provision of social support to employees who feel distressed and helpless as the tool for minimizing the risks of occupational stress and moderating its negative consequences. The authors proposed the division of this approach into different groups of strategies based on the nature of provided support: individual coping strategies, planful problem-solving, cognitive reappraisal, instrumental support seeking, emotional discharge, social support seeking, escapism-avoidance, adjustment support, career support, and financial support (Chan et al., 2012). The first approach of individual coping strategies includes the emotion-focused and problem-focused strategies mentioned above and described by Meško et al. (2013) and Teo et al. (2013). There were no new contributions to this strategy made by the authors.
Furthermore, attention was drawn to the existence of planful problem-solving, a method that involves group strategies for coping with occupational stress and eradicating its influence on a team operating within one working environment. The cognitive reappraisal strategy is a combination of both individual and collective approaches to combating work-related stress that addresses each problem from different perspectives and analyzes all aspects of the situation to fully and comprehensively address it (Chan et al., 2012). Instrumental support seeking is a strategy that focuses on the individual search for external sources of information containing details about helpful instruments for addressing similar challenges and problems. This strategy is beneficial for seeking help from senior management or from those who have had lengthy work experiences in a similar working environment and have faced numerous stressful situations. Moreover, Chan et al. (2012) identified the effectiveness of emotional discharge as a means of revealing negative emotions and focusing instead on the positive aspects of work. This might include meditation, playing sports, or pursuing hobbies (Mosadeghrad, 2014). As for social support seeking, this strategy includes asking for help from people who are not operating within the same working environment. These might be friends or family members. This strategy relies on the trust and openness in communication that may be hard to achieve with colleagues. However, in some cases, employees find it more comfortable to share problems and matters of concern with colleagues, team leaders, or managers. This strategy is referred to as seeking organizational support, and it has a high level of effectiveness because it draws on similar challenges in the same workplace and offers the opportunity for positive changes in terms of cooperation, communication, and involvement of coworkers (Chan et al., 2012).
Organizational support can be further divided into financial, career, and adjustment support. Financial support is as simple as it sounds: those experiencing financial problems are supported by a company through several different means such as the implementation of a system of benefit and rewards, compensation plans, living allowances, and bonuses (Chan et al., 2012). Another form of organizational support, adjustment support, refers to changes in organizational policies needed to minimize the risks of work-related stress and improve work conditions. Finally, companies might choose to deploy career support for reducing stress; in this approach, management focuses on satisfying the career needs of employees and being objective when deciding on career progress (Chan et al., 2012). Chan et al. (2012) supported the notion that a combination of individual and organizational practices is the most effective and beneficial strategy because it is comprehensive and focuses on the needs of both the employees and the organization. Two similar opinions were those of Teo et al. (2013) and Maran et al. (2015), who drew specific attention to the significance of involvement and participation of individuals when it comes to developing and implementing a stress coping strategy within an organization.
The idea of organizational support expressed by Chan et al. (2012), Mosadeghrad, (2014), and Teo et al. (2013) was further supported by the findings of RAND (2015). However, there is a significant difference in the findings of the studies mentioned above, as, according to RAND (2015), the foundation of organizational support is the variety of interventions such as different educational programs, counseling sessions, lifestyle-guidance programs, assessments of cognitive and mental atmosphere in the workplace, and more. Even though Chan et al. (2012), Mosadeghrad, (2014), and Teo et al. (2013) pointed to the significance of developing and implementing supportive strategies and policies, they never mentioned an in-depth investigation into the potential causes of occupational stress or the psychological state of employees, determining no real basis for implementing the changes.
Workplace Stress in the Ship-Repair Industry
The ship-repair industry is characterized by the existence of a variety of specificities. For example, the primary focus of employees is always on safety issues, as it is one of the central determinants of employee productivity (Al-Raqadi et al., 2015). Even though the maritime industry is close to other sectors of the economy, when it comes to determining the roots of occupational stress, working in a hazardous environment is the major stressor that makes the ship-repair industry one of the most stressful ones (Cardoso, Padovani, & Tucci, 2014). According to the findings of Cardoso et al. (2014) working in a ship-repair company carries higher risks of work-related accidents, allocation of workloads, overtime shifts, and problems with work–life balance compared to other industries. Bakotić and Babić (2013) highlighted the significance of safe and comfortable working conditions for both the emotional and physical well-being of employees. Constantly working under the realization of the high risk of work-related accidents is another critical stressor affecting dock workers and those employed by ship-repair companies (Cezar-Vaz et al., 2014).
Strategies for reducing stress in the ship-repair industry
To guarantee the personal safety of workers and reduce the risks of workplace stress in the ship-repair industry, quality management is the most common strategy (Al-Raqadi et al., 2015). The foundation of this popular strategy is the implementation of the newest technologies with the aim of increasing productivity, modernizing operations, and meeting the extremely high-quality expectations imposed by the trend toward introducing innovations in all sectors of the economy (Al-Raqadi et al., 2015). Because of high rates of development and implementation of the newest technologies in docks and within ship-repair companies, fostering modernization and comprehensive reorganization are critical (Cardoso et al., 2014). However, being a traditional industry, the maritime sector is highly sensitive to even the slightest changes in organization and operation, and modifications to common procedures and quality requirements can be seen as an additional source of occupational stress because doing so requires employees to develop new skills and gain new knowledge. Moreover, workers face an increased risk of work-related accidents when obtaining these skills and learning to deploy the newest technologies (Cardoso et al., 2014).
Nevertheless, quality management and higher quality requirements are beneficial for improving employee performance. Even though the transition toward the use of innovations and the newest technologies is both time- and cost-consuming and demands the development and implementation of well-thought-out and well-organized plans of actions for fostering progress, it also increases the rate of employee safety and security in the workplace (Cardoso et al., 2014). Therefore, the modernization of the workplace is a source of emotional comfort because of the creation of better and safer physical conditions that reduce the risks of stress at work and mitigate its negative consequences by enhancing the safety and security of those employed.
The process of introducing the newest technologies into the operations of companies within the ship-repair industry is a troublesome road, including a variety of ups and downs that are in turn closely related to changes in occupational stress levels. Initially, employees are at increased risk of work-related stress, as gaining new knowledge and developing new skills necessary to deploy modernized technologies are challenging. Low job satisfaction, high turnover rates, and increased absenteeism, as well as loss of human resources, are common factors accompanying the change. Moreover, this learning process is inseparable from a constant fear of work-related accidents because of mistakes in operating the new technologies (Al-Raqadi et al., 2015; Cardoso et al., 2014). The existence of this trend points to the paradoxical nature of the ship-repair industry, as changes introduced to foster positive changes in the workplace lead to progress only after a wave of dissatisfaction and negative consequences related to the efforts at modernization.
To obtain an in-depth understanding of occupational stress in the ship-repair industry, it is imperative to understand the industry’s concept of a hazard and the determinants of a hazardous environment. According to the Workplace Safety and Health Council (2014), a hazard refers to the way of organizing work and procedures for carrying out operations, managing and organizing the workplace, and testing and using the equipment. Any change in the normal state or workplace organization is hazardous because it entails further changes that are impossible to predict and control (WSH Council, 2014). The WSH Council underscored the significance of preventative measures for enhancing the safety and security of employees, thus decreasing the level of occupational stress. However, the identification of preventative measures in the ship-repair industry goes beyond establishing a friendly and open environment such as the cases of other industries; indeed, the primary emphasis in this industry remains on eliminating or at least controlling the risks of the hazards mentioned above, designing safe environments on the basis of both quality and security requirements, and controlling the emergence of hazards by ensuring the proper maintenance of all equipment (WSH Council, 2014). Bearing in mind the definition of hazard in the maritime industry, the justification for calling the implementation of the newest technologies or any modernization efforts hazardous becomes evident, because it minimizes the ability to control and maintain the newly introduced technologies because of the lack of knowledge and skills necessary to use them.
Sherridan and Ashcroft (2015) noted that most industries recognize the significance of preventative measures, such as establishing an atmosphere of trust and openness in the workplace, as the best option for addressing the challenge of occupational stress and mitigating its negative influence, thus enhancing the emotional well-being of employees and improving performance (Aftab & Javeed, 2014). However, another significant specificity of the ship-repair industry is that preventative measures commonly deployed by other industries are often ignored (Aftab & Javeed, 2014; Sherridan & Ashcroft, 2015). Just as modernization is seen as a threat to stability and security, so is the introduction of stress coping strategies and techniques for mitigating the negative influences of occupational stress.
Occupational stress in ship-repair industry
In the shipbuilding and ship-repair industries, the level of occupational stress is higher in comparison to other sectors of the economy, and the effectiveness of managing the problem is lower in the shipbuilding and ship-repair industries than to other sectors of the economy. The low efficiency of strategies for minimizing the risks of work-related stress are impossible to separate from the lack of necessary skills to address the challenges resulting from work-related stress, as well as the significant pressure employees face with regard to overtime shifts, work-related accidents, and poor quality management (Al-Raqadi et al., 2015; Cardoso et al., 2014; Cezar-Vaz et al., 2014).
In conclusion, a thorough examination of the existing literature relating to the investigation of the influence of work-related stress on employee productivity and job satisfaction in the ship-repair industry has identified the existence of significant gaps in this area of knowledge. Among the primary discoveries covered by the research on the effect of occupational stress in the maritime industry was the emergence of work-related stress as a response to the introduction of changes to the working environment or to communication strategies-as well as the connection between such changes and the industry’s shared understanding of hazards in the workplace (Al-Raqadi et al., 2015; Cardoso et al., 2014; WSH Council, 2014). According to the primary findings of the studies, the causes of occupational stress among workers employed in the ship-repair industry are fulfilling job duties in a hazardous environment, handling a heavy workload with many overtime shifts, and constantly running high risks of work-related accidents having a negative influence on their physical and emotional well-being and threatening their future professional activities (Aftab & Javeed, 2014; Bakotić & Babić, 2013; Cardoso et al., 2014; Cezar-Vaz et al., 2014; Sherridan & Ashcroft, 2015). Moreover, the issue of strategies for reducing the risks of occupational stress is also under-investigated; the only reference made to this issue was that preventive measures aimed at enhancing the psychological atmosphere of the workplace are ignored, and their value is called into question (Aftab & Javeed, 2014; Sherridan & Ashcroft, 2015). Indeed, this review of the literature underscores the significance of the proposed qualitative exploratory case study as there are significant knowledge gaps to address and fill.
The workplace environment is the most significant stressor, imposing a negative influence on the effectiveness of organizational management and employee productivity. Occupational stress is a common work-related mental concern caused by heavy workloads, overtime shifts, operating within a hazardous environment, frequent instances of conflicts in the workplace, ineffective communication, and other similar factors (Adriaenssens et al., 2015; Aftab & Javeed, 2014; Al-Raqadi et al., 2015; Cevenini et al., 2012; Chen et al., 2014; Dwamena, 2012; The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, 2014; Griffiths et al., 2011; Hakanen & Schaufeli, 2012; Kula & Sahin, 2015; Obiora & Iwuoha, 2013; O’Keefe et al., 2014; Patel, 2013; Trivellas et al., 2013). Occupational stress has been studied through a variety of theories; the three main ones selected as the framework for this study are the the job demands–resources model that connects intensity of the jobs and the resources needed to address occupational stress, transformational leadership theory according to which the organizational leaders and the ones capable of fostering positive change in regard to work-related stress, and the employee engagement theories in which the level of the worker’s engagement is correlated with occupational stress (Amarakoon, 2015; Demerouti et al., 2001; Liu et al., 2010; Lyons & Schneider, 2009; Robertson & Cooper, 2009).
The consequences of work-related stress vary and include mental issues such as substance addiction, emotional burnout, depression, and mood swings; a multitude of physical issues including the risk of cardiovascular diseases, eating disorders, and chronic fatigue; and organizational consequences such as job dissatisfaction, impaired employee productivity, turnover intentions, absenteeism, and presenteeism as well as higher risks of work-related accidents (Ajaganandam & Rajan, 2013; Sunal, Sunal, & Yasin, 2011;).
In general terms, the causes of occupational stress make up three groups of factors: personal, organizational, and health-related (RAND, 2015). In each case, an organization dealing with the challenge of workplace stress faces the need for examining specificities of working conditions and designing a comprehensive strategy for reducing the risks of stress at work, satisfying the needs of employees, and addressing organizational objectives by focusing either on addressing problems or emotions (Meško et al., 2013). In addition, the problem of occupational stress has a very diverse nature and thus tends to be faced with a wide range of organizations operating in many different industries (Griffiths et al., 2011). In addition, the concept of occupational stress is directly connected with the issues of employee turnover, absenteeism, and organizational performance or productivity (Chen et al., 2014; Griffiths et al., 2011; Hanaysha, 2016; Petarli et al., 2015). The collective presence of all of these phenomena driven by their tight correlation with one another increases the negative effect they produce on the affected organizations and also complicates the process of development of the solutions for the problem (Meško et al., 2013). Also, on account of the diverse nature of the issue, the strategies aiming at the minimization of occupational stress, employee turnover, and absenteeism and the consequent enhancement of the workers’ productivity can vary depending on the unique sets of factors that contribute to the formation of negative environments in different workplaces (Maran et al., 2015).
For dock workers and the individuals employed by ship-repair companies, the challenge of occupational stress is especially severe because of constant exposure to the risk of accidents, serious safety and security concerns, an industry sensitivity to modernization, and an increase in work-related stress in response to any slight change in the organization of the workplace or its procedures (Al-Raqadi et al., 2015; Cardoso et al., 2014). The latter factors have repeatedly been recognized in a variety of research studies as some of the most influential and powerful workplace stressors leading to the workers’ reduced job satisfaction (Dias et al., 2016; Petarli et al., 2015; Sharma, 2015).
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Amarakoon, U. (2015). Impact of occupational stress on employee engagement. Proceedings of 12th International Conference on Business Management, 1-14.
Annamalai, S., & Nandagopal, R. (2014). Occupational stress: A study of employee stress in Indian ITES industry. New Delhi, India: Allied Publishers.
Bakotić, D., & Babić, T. (2013). Relationship between working conditions and job satisfaction: The case of Croatian Shipbuilding Company. International Journal of Business and Social Science, 4, 206-213. Web.
Beheshtifar, M., & Modaber, H. (2013). The investigation of relation between occupational stress and career plateau. Interdisciplinary Journal of Contemporary Research in Business, 4, 650-660. Web.
Blount, Y. (2015). Managing the invisible employee: Productivity and availability. Governance Directions, 67, 365-367. Web.
Burman, S., & Shastri, S. (2013). Occupational stress and organizational commitment of employees in virtual and traditional teams: A comparative study. International Journal of Science and Research, 2(10), 100-106.
Campbell, K. M. (2015). Flexible work schedules, virtual work programs, and employee productivity (Doctoral dissertation). Web.
Cardoso, P. Q., Padovani, R., & Tucci, A. M. (2014). Analysis of stressors agents and stress expression among temporary dock workers. Estudos de Psicologia, 31, 507-516. Web.
Cevenini, G., Fratini, I., & Gambassi, R. (2012). A new quantitative approach to measure perceived work-related stress in Italian employees. International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health, 25, 426-445. Web.
Cezar-Vaz, M. R., de Almeida, M., Bonow, C., Rocha, L. P., Borges, A. M., & Piexak, D. R. (2014). Casual dock work: Profile of diseases and injuries and perception of influence on health. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 11, 2077-2091. Web.
Chakraborty, S., & Subramanya, A. H. C. (2013). Socio-demographic and clinical predictors of absenteeism: A cross-sectional study of urban industrial employees. Industrial Psychiatry Journal, 22, 17-21. Web.
Chan, I. Y. S., Jeung, M. Y., Yu, S. S. (2012). Managing the stress of Hong Kong expatriate construction professionals in Mainland China: Focus Group study exploring individual coping strategies and organizational support. Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, 138, 1115-1160. Web.
Chang, K., & Taylor, J. (2013). Do your employees use the right stress coping strategies? International Journal of Commerce and Strategy, 5(2), 100-116.
Chen, M.-C., Huang, Y.-W., Hou, W.-L., Sun, C.-A., Chou, Y.-C., Chu, S.-F., & Yang, T. (2014). The correlations between work stress, job satisfaction and quality of life among nurse anesthetists working in medical centers in Southern Taiwan. Nursing and Health, 2(2), 35-47. Web.
Chirico, F. (2016). Job stress models for predicting burnout syndrome: A review. Annali dell’Istituto Superiore di Sanità, 52, 443-456. http://dx.doi.org/10.4415/ann_16_03_17
Cifre, E., Vera, M., & Signani, F. (2015). Women and men at work: Analyzing occupational stress and well-being from a gender perspective. Evista Puertorriqueña de Psicología, 26(2), 172-191.
Daniel, J. (2015). Workplace spirituality and stress: Evidence from Mexico and US. Management Research Review, 38, 43-29. Web.
Demerouti, E., Bakker, A., Nachreiner, F., & Schaufeli, W. B. (2001). The job demands-resources model of burnout. Journal of Applied Psychology, 86, 499-512. Web.
Dias, F., Santos, J., Abelha, L., & Lovisi, G. (2016). Occupational stress and professional exhaustion syndrome (burnout) in workers from the petroleum industry: A systematic review. Revista Brasileira de Saúde Ocupacional, 41, 23-34. Web.
Drabek, M., & Merecz, D. (2013). Job stress, occupational position and gender as factors differentiating workplace bullying experience. Medycyna Pracy, 64(3), 283–296.
Dwamena, M. A. (2012). Stress and its effects on employees’ productivity: A case study of Ghana ports and harbors authority (Master’s thesis, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology). Web.
The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work. (2014). Calculating the cost of work-related stress and psychosocial risks. Web.
Griffiths, M., Baxter, S. M., & Townley-Jones, M. E. (2011). The wellbeing of financial counselors: A study of work stress and job satisfaction. Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning, 22(2), 41-78. Web.
Hakanen, J. J., & Schaufeli, W. B. (2012). Do burnout and work engagement predict depressive symptoms and life satisfaction? A three-wave seven-year prospective study. Journal of Affective Disorders, 141, 415-424. Web.
Hanaysha, J. (2016). Improving employee productivity through work engagement: Evidence from higher education sector. International Journal of Industrial Engineering Computations, 6, 61-70. Web.
Kelly, T., & Barrett, M. (2011). The leading causes and potential consequences of occupational stress: A study of Irish trainee accountants. Irish Accounting Review, 18(2), 31-55. Web.
Kula, S., & Sahin, I. (2015). The impacts of occupational stress on the work-related burnout levels of Turkish National Police members. International Journal of Public Policy, 11, 169-185. Web.
Leon, M., & Halbesleben, J. (2013). Building resilience to improve employee well-being. In A. Rossi, J. Meurs, & P. Perrewe (Eds.), Improving employee health and well-being (pp. 65-79). Charlotte, NC: IAP.
Liu, J., Siu, O.-L., & Shi, K. (2010). Transformational leadership and employee well-being: The mediating role of trust in the leader and self-efficacy. Applied Psychology, 59(3), 454-479.
Lyons, J., & Schneider, T. (2009). The effects of leadership style on stress outcomes. The Leadership Quarterly, 20(5), 737-748.
Maran, D. A., Varetto, A., Zedda, M., & Ieraci, V. (2015). Occupational stress, anxiety and coping strategies in police officers. Occupational Medicine, 65, 466-473.
Martin, L. A., Neighbors, H. W., & Griffith, D. M. (2013). The experience of symptoms of depression in men vs. women: Analysis of the national comorbidity survey replication. The Journal of the American Medical Association: Psychiatry, 70, 1100-1106.
Mayfield, J., & Mayfield, M. (2009). The role of leader motivating language in employee absenteeism. International Journal of Business Communication, 46, 455-479.
Meško, M., Erenda, I., Videmšek, M., Karpljuk, D., Štihec, J., & Roblek, V. (2013). Relationship between stress coping strategies and absenteeism among middle-level managers. Management: Journal of Contemporary Management Issues, 18, 45-57.
Miller, K., Greyling, M., Cooper, C., Lu, L., Sparks, K., & Spector, P. (2000). Occupational stress and gender: A cross-cultural study. Stress Medicine, 16(5), 271-278. Web.
Mirmohammadi, S. J., Taheri, M., Mehrparvar, A. H., Heydari, M., Kanafi, A. S., & Mostaghaci, M. (2014). Occupational stress and cardiovascular risk factors in high-ranking government officials and office workers. Iran Red Crescent Medical Journal, 16(8), e11747.
Mosadeghrad, A. M. (2014). Occupational stress and its consequences: Implications for health policy and management. Leadership in Health Services, 27, 224-239.
O’Keefe, L., Brown, K., & Christian, B. (2014). Policy perspectives on occupational stress. Workplace Health & Safety, 62, 432-438.
Obiora, C. A., & Iwuoha, V. C. (2013). Work related stress, job satisfaction and due process in Nigerian public service. European Scientific Journal, 9(20), 214-232. Web.
Patel, C. (2013). The complete guide to stress management. New York, NY: Springer.
Palinkas, L. A., Horwitz, S. M., Green, C. A., Wisdom, J. P., Duan, N., & Hoagwood, K. (2015). Purposeful sampling for qualitative data collection and analysis in mixed method implementation research. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research, 42, 533-544.
Petarli, G., Zandonade, E., Salaroli, L., & Bissoli, N. (2015). Assessment of occupational stress and associated factors among bank employees in Vitoria, State of Espírito Santo, Brazil. Ciência & Saúde Coletiva, 20, 3925-3934.Web.
Prater, T., & Smith, K. (2011). Underlying factors contributing to presenteeism and absenteeism. Journal of Business & Economics Research, 9(6), 1-14.
Quick, J. C., & Henderson, D. F. (2016). Occupational stress: Preventing suffering, enhancing wellbeing. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 13, 459-469.
Raghuram, S., & Wiesenfeld, B. (2004). Work-nonwork conflict and job stress among virtual workers. Human Resource Management, 43(2-3), 259-277.
RAND. (2015). Health, wellbeing, and productivity in the workplace: A Britain’s healthiest company summary report. Web.
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Sharma, E. (2015). A study of the factors that cause occupational stress among blue-collar employees. IUP Journal of Organizational Behavior, 14(4), 52-65. Web.
Sharma, J., & Magotra, I. (2013). Employee absenteeism in manufacturing industry of Jammu: An analysis of precursors. International Journal of Information, Business and Management, 5(2), 175-193. Web.
Sharma, S., & Sharma, V. (2014). Employee engagement to enhance productivity in current scenario. International Journal of Commerce, Business and Management, 3, 595-604. Web.
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Workplace Safety and Health Council. (2014). Workplace safety and health manual for the marine industry. Web.
Appendix A: Sources for Conducting Literature Review
|#||Author||Title||Nature of the Source||Key Findings Related to the Topic of Investigation|
|1||Aftab & Javeed, 2014||The impact of job stress on the counter-productive work behavior (CWB): A case study from the financial sector of Pakistan.||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||Occupational stress is one of the most severe challenges faced by leaders and managers.|
|2||Dwamena, 2012||Stress and its effects on employees’ productivity: A case study of Ghana ports and harbors authority, Takoradi||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||Because working environments have grown highly competitive and intense, employees find themselves caught in strenuous atmospheres and constant mood swings caused by harsh work conditions and the necessity to foster personal development to remain employed.|
|3||The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, 2014||Calculating the cost of work-related stress and psychosocial risks.||Article published online||Exposure to stress at work goes beyond professional life and into personal affairs, as most employees find it nearly impossible to reach a balance between work and life. Work-related stress negatively impacts family relationships, physical and mental health, communication with colleagues, personal development, and job performance.|
|4||Cevenini et al. (2012)||A new quantitative approach to measure perceived work-related stress in Italian employees.||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||The phenomenon of occupational stress is closely related to the concept of occupational health. It implies the influence of external factors specific to a particular working environment on both the physical and emotional well-being of employees.|
|5||Leon & Halbesleben, 2013||Building resilience to improve employee well-being||Chapter in an edited book||The issue of occupational stress should be addressed by monitoring and satisfying the needs of staff, eliminating potential risks, and recognizing the severity of consequences.|
|6||Meško et al., 2013||Relationship between stress coping strategies and absenteeism among middle-level managers||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||Work-related stress is a common cause of serious health concerns affecting the performance and success of the whole organizations.|
|7||Hakanen & Schaufeli, 2012||Do burnout and work engagement predict depressive symptoms and life satisfaction? A three-wave seven-year prospective study.||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||Workplace well-being is the primary determinant of the long-term well-being of an employee because when an individual remains in a constant state of helplessness and anxiety, it leads to serious health concerns such as burnout and depression.|
|8||Adriaenssens et al., 2015||Causes and consequences of occupational stress in emergency nurses, longitudinal study.||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||If the atmosphere in the workplace is comfortable and employees feel supported by senior management and team leaders, they become more motivated to fulfill their job duties effectively. |
Work-related stress is the result of changes in job demands, lack of social support, or lack of job control.
|9||Patel, 2013||The complete guide to stress management.||Book||Work-related stress affects people emotionally, mentally, and physiologically, resulting in aggravated job performance, increased turnover, and absenteeism.|
|10||Griffiths et al., 2011||The well-being of financial counselors: A study of work stress and job satisfaction||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||It is impossible to avoid workplace stress regardless of industry or profession.|
|11||RAND, 2015||Health, wellbeing, and productivity in the workplace||Article published online||Overtime shifts and low pay are among the primary causes of occupational stress. |
The lack of adequate social support is a stressor itself.
|12||Teo, Pick, Newton, Yeung, and Chang, 2013||Organizational change stressors and nursing job satisfaction: the mediating effect of coping strategies.||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||Workplace stress is the byproduct of organizational changes such as the changes in budgeting, workloads, or recruitment requirements.|
|13||Kelly & Barrett, 2011||The leading causes and potential consequences of occupational stress: A study of Irish trainee accountants.||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||A stressor is an irritant. Once the comfortable and acceptable level of a particular irritant is exceeded, it invokes a negative reaction known as stress.|
|14||Trivellas et al., 2013||The effect of job-related stress on employees’ satisfaction: A survey in health care||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||A lack of career opportunities is related to a lack of company resources devoted to enhancing employee development instead of the influence of external factors (job insecurity) or subjectivity of influential and powerful colleagues.|
|15||Mosadeghrad, 2014||Occupational stress and its consequences: Implications for health policy and management||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||The workplace environment is the primary organizational stressor and includes a variety of factors such as differences in workloads or pay, management styles, job duties, availability of resources and effectiveness of allocating and managing them, career prospects, atmosphere in the work environment, etc.|
|16||Daniel, 2015||Workplace spirituality and stress: Evidence from Mexico and US.||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||There is a link between the meaningfulness of a task and occupational stress.|
|17||Chen et al., 2014||The correlations between work stress, job satisfaction and quality of life among nurse anesthetists working in medical centers in Southern Taiwan.||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||Job satisfaction strongly correlates with occupational stress; the higher the level of work-related stress, the more dissatisfied employees grow with the current work conditions.|
|18||Kula & Sahin, 2015||The impacts of occupational stress on the work-related burnout levels of Turkish National Police members||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||The risks of occupational stress entailing low job satisfaction are higher when working in hazardous conditions and under the constant threat to health and well-being.|
|19||Obiora & Iwuoha, 2013||Work related stress, job satisfaction and due process in Nigerian public service||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||If an individual fulfills job functions in poor work conditions accompanied with low and unequal pay, overloads, hazardous working environment, difficulties in finding the right balance between professional and private lives, they are more likely to experience higher levels of occupational stress contributing to lower levels of job satisfaction.|
|20||Maran, Varetto, Zedda, & Ieraci, 2015||Occupational stress, anxiety, and coping strategies in police officers.||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||The promotion of employee involvement and participation should form the foundation for reducing stress and increasing job satisfaction.|
|21||Martin et al., 2013||The experience of symptoms of depression in men vs. women: Analysis of the national comorbidity survey replication.||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||Around 30% of Americans experience severe health concerns but do not seek professional help, instead choosing to attend work because of the fear of being fired and losing an opportunity to make a living. This exacerbates work-related and personal stress, which affect their work and family relationships.|
|22||Preter and Smith, 2011||Underlying factors contributing to presenteeism and absenteeism.||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||The impact of presenteeism on the performance of both an individual who has shown up at work ignoring health concerns and his or her colleagues is negative.|
|23||Tadesse, Ebrahim, & Gizaw, 2015||Sickness absenteeism and associated factors among horticulture employees in Iume district, Southern Ethiopia.||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||A lack of public appreciation, low pay, and heavy workloads are not the only causes contributing to absenteeism. It is also fostered by different determinants of occupational stress such as job dissatisfaction, bullying in the workplace, a strenuous atmosphere at work, unrealistic job demands having nothing to do with job duties, a lack of positive interventions aimed at promoting the physical and mental well-being of employees and improving the working environment, ignoring the significance of health and employee well-being, etc.|
|24||Chakraborty and Subramanya, 2013||Socio-demographic and clinical predictors of absenteeism-A cross-sectional study of urban industrial employees.||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||There is a strong correlation between absenteeism intentions and sociocultural factors such as age, sex, educational background, and marital status; personal cognitive matters such as substance abuse, constant emotional fatigue, depression; and organizational factors including heavy workloads, gross pay, overtime shifts, etc.|
|25||Sharma and Magotra, 2013||Employee absenteeism in manufacturing industry of Jammu: An analysis of precursors.||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||Around 10% of employees do not attend work regularly, ignoring the fulfillment of job duties and the significant role they play in achieving organizational objectives.|
|26||Mayfield, J., and Mayfield, M., 2009||The role of leader motivating language in employee absenteeism.||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||The friendly and inspiring behavior of a leader stimulates desirable changes in the work environment including dedication and perseverance that has a positive influence on organization’s performance and employee productivity.|
|27||Campbell, 2015||Flexible work schedules, virtual work programs, and employee productivity||Doctoral dissertation||Productivity is the ability of an employee to complete assigned tasks by meeting the set deadlines and using available procedures and technologies.|
|28||Roelofsen, 2012||The impact of office environments on employee performance: The design of the workplace as a strategy for productivity enhancement.||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||Productivity is “the increased functional and organizational performance, including quality.”|
|29||Hanaysha, 2016||Improving employee productivity through work engagement: Empirical evidence from higher education sector.||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||Reaching a higher level of employee productivity is seen as the primary strategic objective of most organizations without regard to the industry of operation.|
|30||Sharma, M. S., and Sharma, M. V., 2014||Employee engagement to enhance productivity in current scenario.||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||Employee productivity has a positive impact on the development of an organization and the people employed by it.|
|31||Blount (2015)||Managing the invisible employee: Productivity and availability.||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||The influence of the transition to the virtual environment on employee productivity is positive because of that these developments decrease the risks of absenteeism and presenteeism as well as eradicate the challenge of heavy workloads and conflicts with other team members, as there is no physical working environment.|
|32||Al-Raqadi et al., 2015||Learning quality management for ships’ upkeep and repair environment.||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||The primary focus of employees working in the ship-repair industry is always on safety issues, as it is one of the central determinants of employee productivity.|
|33||Cardoso et al., 2014||Analysis of stressors agents and stress expression among temporary dock workers.||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||Working in a ship-repair company always carries higher risks of work-related accidents, allocation of workloads, overtime shifts, and difficulties finding the right balance between work and personal life as compared to other industries.|
|34||Bakotić and Babić, 2013||Relationship between working conditions and job satisfaction: The case of Croatian Shipbuilding Company.||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||Safe and comfortable working conditions are significant for both the emotional and physical well-being of employees.|
|35||Cezar-Vaz et al., 2014||Casual dock work: Profile of diseases and injuries and perception of influence on health.||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||Constantly working with the high risks of work-related accidents is another critical stressor affecting dock workers and those employed by ship-repair companies.|
|36||Workplace Safety and Health Council, 2014||Workplace safety and health manual for the marine industry||Article published online||A hazard in the ship-repair industry refers to the way of organizing work and the procedure for carrying out operations, managing and organizing workplace as well as testing and using equipment. Any change in the common state of things and in workplace organization is assumed to be hazardous because it entails further changes that are impossible to predict and control.|
|37||Sherridan and Ashcroft, 2015||Work-related stress-what is it, and what do employers need to do to address it.||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||Most industries recognize the significance of preventative measures such as establishing an atmosphere of trust and openness in the workplace as the best option for addressing the challenge of occupational stress and mitigating its negative influence, thus enhancing the emotional well-being of employees and improving performance.|
|38||Quick and Henderson, 2016||Occupational stress: Preventing suffering, enhancing wellbeing||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||Occupational stress is linked to a variety of conditions of physical, mental, and behavioral nature; it can be addressed and minimized via some preventative strategies.|
|39||Chirico, 2016||Job stress models for predicting burnout syndrome: A review||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||There exists a range of psychosocial and organizational contributors to occupational stress that are also identified as the risk factors for job burnout.|
|40||Beheshtifar and Modaber, 2013||The investigation of relation between occupational stress and career plateau.||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||Occupational stress is linked to job satisfaction, motivation, and employee performance. Also, the aforementioned set of concepts is linked to obstacles to career plateau.|
|41||Sharma, 2015||A study of the factors that cause occupational stress among blue-collar employees||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||Occupational stress is in a direct connection with employees’ productivity, as well as the overall organizational performance.|
|42||Thanh, 2016||Relationship at work as a cause of occupational stress: The case of academic women in Vietnam||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||Workplace relations and hierarchy, as well as power distance serve as some of the most important determiners of occupational stress in academic employees.|
|43||Ajaganandam and Rajan, 2013||A conceptual framework of occupational stress and coping strategies||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||High levels of occupational stress in the workplace tends to result in the deterioration of the workers’ physical and mental condition, as well as produce an adverse effect on the overall organizational performance.|
|44||Mirmohammadi, Taheri, Mehrparvar, Heydari, Kanafi, and Mostaghaci, 2014||Occupational stress and cardiovascular risk factors in high-ranking government officials and office workers||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||High levels of occupational stress can be present in both highly challenging and demanding professions, as well as those lacking complexity and pressure. The difference is that the causes and nature of stress vary depending on the quality of a job.|
|45||Petarli, Zandonade, Salaroli, and Bissoli, 2015||Assessment of occupational stress and associated factors among bank employees in Vitoria, State of Espírito Santo, Brazil||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||Social and psychological well-being the employees is directly connected to work-related stress that is majorly driven by the lack of social support, low-skill jobs, and the length of employment exceeding 5 years.|
|46||Dias, Santos, Abelha, and Lovisi, 2016||Occupational stress and professional exhaustion syndrome (burnout) in workers from the petroleum industry: A systematic review||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||In petroleum industry, workers are affected by a large number of stressors decreasing their job satisfaction; these factors are of physical, social, cognitive, and emotional nature|
|47||Annamalai and Nandagopal, 2014||Occupational stress: A study of employee stress in Indian ITES industry||A book||The characteristic and sources of occupational stress a very diverse and tend to differ from one industry or profession to another with a set of universal stressors that exist almost everywhere.|
|48||Miller et al., 2000||Occupational stress and gender: A cross-cultural study||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||Male and female employees have different responses to occupational stress.|
|49||Cifre, Vera, and Signani, 2015||Women and men at work: Analyzing occupational stress and well-being from a gender perspective||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||There exists an effect of gender on the employees’ perception and reactions to work-related stress.|
|50||Drabek and Merecz, 2013||Job stress, occupational position and gender |
as factors differentiating workplace bullying experience
|Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||Workplace behaviors are dictated by gender differences, which includes the responses to occupational stress displayed by male and female employees.|
|51||Amarakoon, 2015||Impact of occupational stress on employee engagement||Article from the Proceedings of 12th International Conference on Business Management||Too high, as well as too low levels of occupational stress can cause workplace disengagement.|
|52||Roberson and Cooper, 2009||Full engagement: The integration of employee engagement and psychological well-being||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||Employee engagement is related to the levels of workplace well-being.|
|53||Lyons and Schneider, 2009||The effects of leadership style on stress outcomes||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||Organizational leaders are able to adopt positive organizational change and foster a healthy and stress-free work environment|
|54||Liu, Siu, and Shi, 2010||Transformational leadership and employee wellbeing: The mediating role of trust in the leader and self-efficacy||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||Transformational leadership allows developing trusting relations between leaders and workers thus enforcing a healthier work environment|
|55||Raghuram and Wiesenfeld, 2009||Work-nonwork conflict and job stress among virtual workers||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||A healthy and sustainable work-non-work balance can help address disengagement of the employees caused by occupational stress.|
|56||Burman and Shastri, 2013||Occupational stress and organizational commitment of employees in virtual and traditional teams: A comparative study||Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||The level of occupational stress is tightly linked to the job demands.|
|57||Chang and Taylor, 2013||Do your employees use the right stress |
|Scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal||The emplpyees’ strategies for coping with work-related stress may negatively impact their productivity.|