Stress is an experience that creates physiological and psychological imbalances within a person . It is a body reaction to any demands or changes in this internal and external environment . whenever there is a change in external environment , such as temperature , pollution , humidity and working conditions , it leads to stress . In these days of competition , when one wishes to surpass what has been achieved by others , leading to an imbalance between demands and resources , it causes psycho-social stress . Thus stress is a part and parcel of every day life .
Definition of stress
HSE’s formal definition of work related stress is:
“The adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them at work.”
Stress is not an illness – it is a state. However, if stress becomes too excessive and prolonged, mental and physical illness may develop.
Work is generally good for people if it is well designed, but it can also be a great source of pressure. There is a difference between pressure and stress. Pressure can be positive and a motivating factor, and is often essential in a job. It can help us achieve our goals and perform better. Stress occurs when this pressure becomes excessive. Stress is a natural reaction to too much pressure.
Selye has defined stress as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand made upon it .” the concept of stress has been borrowed from the natural sciences . during the 18th and 19th century stress was equated with ” force , pressure or strain” exerted upon a material object or person which resists these factors and attempts to maintain its original state . The use of the concept in this fashion encouraged physicists and engineers into adopting it to suit their purpose . Thus stress in engineering is known is “the ratio of the internal force brought into play when substance is distorted to the area over which the force acts.”
According to R.S Schuler is of the view that stress is a dynamic condition in which an individual is confronted with an opportunity , constraint or demand related to what he desires and for which the outcome is perceived to be both uncertain and important .
Stress is not bad in itself . While stress is typically taken in negative sense , it is also has positive value . it is an opportunity when it offers potential gain . Consider, for example , the superior performance that an athlete or stage performer gives in “difficult” situations . such individuals often use stress positively to rise to the occasion and perform at or near their maximum.
Stress is additive . it builds up . each new and persistent stressor adds to an individual’s stress level . a single stressor , in and of itself , may seem relatively unimportant , but if it is added to an already high level of stress , it can be “the straw that breaks the camel’s back”. If we want to appraise the total amount of stress an individual is under , we have to sum up his opportunity stresses, and demand stresses.
So, according to Selye stress basically can be classified into two :
Eustress : It is ‘positive’ stress that accompanies achievement and exhilaration . eustress is the stress of meeting challenges such as those found in managerial job.
Distress : It occurs when we feel insecure , inadequate , helpless or desperate as a result of too much , or too little ,pressure or tension .
Implications of stress on performance and satisfaction
There has been a significant amount of research investigating the relationship between stress and performance. slye suggested that optimum stress may be achieved at work and reflected in job performance when job provides adequate challenge , but not too little or too much pressure . though optimum stress level is different for different individuals , each individual can sense and determine how much stress is functional for him to operate in a productive manner . in case of optimum stress there is high energy and high motivation . Under the situations of under stress and over-stress , boredom and apathy creep in .
Different level of stress :
Boredom / apathy
The factors which have the potential to cause stress may be grouped as :
Work related stressor
WORK RELATED STRESSOR
Well-designed, organised and managed work helps to maintain and promote individual health and well-being. But where there has been insufficient attention to job design, work organisation and management the benefits and assets associated with ‘good work’ could be lost. One common result is Work related stress.
By the term work related stress we mean the process that arises where work demands of various types and combinations exceed the person’s capacity and capability to cope. Think of this as ‘bad work’. It is a significant cause of illness and disease and is known to be linked with high levels of sickness absence, staff turnover and other indicators of organisational underperformance – including human error.
For some the way to deal with work related stress is to diagnose, treat and rehabilitate people who experience it. For others, it is economically and morally preferable to assess and repair the failed work system or organisation. This action reduces the risk of future failure and the likelihood of future work-related ill-health. This approach focuses attention on the antecedents of work related stress in the design and management of work – but recognises that interventions at the individual level have a part to play.
Work-related stress is a growing problem around the world that affects not only the health and well-being of employees, but also the productivity of organisations. Work-related stress arises where work demands of various types and combinations exceed the person’s capacity and capability to cope. Work-related stress is the second most common compensated illness/injury in Australia, after musculoskeletal disorders.
Work-related stress can be caused by various events. For example, a person might feel under pressure if the demands of their job (such as hours or responsibilities) are greater than they can comfortably manage. Other sources of work-related stress include conflict with co-workers or bosses, constant change, and threats to job security, such as potential redundancy.
Work-related stress has many causes, including long hours, heavy workload, job insecurity, the threat of job loss or redundancy, and conflicts with other workers or bosses. Symptoms of work-related stress may include depression, anxiety, a drop in work performance, feelings of being overwhelmed, fatigue, headaches and an increase in sick days or absenteeism . Companies and employers should recognize work-related stress as a significant health and safety issue.
I have evaluated three websites to determine common work related stressor which are ;
and following is my analysis for the same .
Organizational stressor are various factors in the workplace that can cause stress . The common stressor in organization are as follows :
Task demands and stressor associated with the specific job a person performs .some occupations are by nature more stressful than others. The jobs of surgeons , air traffic controllers , and professional football coaches are more stressful than those of general practitioners airplane baggage loaders , and football team equipment managers .
Beyond specific task related pressures , other aspects of jobs may pose physical threats to a person’s health . Unhealthy conditions exist in occupations such as coal mining and toxic waste handling . Security is another task demand that can cause stress. Someone in a relatively secure ob is not likely to worry unduly about losing that position. Threat to job security can increase stress dramatically . For example, stress generally increases throughout an organization during a period of layoffs or immediately after a merger with another firm .
The sources of stress in organizational role include role ambiguity , role conflict , responsibility towards people and things and other stressors . Role ambiguity involves lack of clarity about the work objectives , expectations of colleagues related to scope and responsibilities of the job . Role conflict arises where the individual is exposed to conflicting job demands or is required to do things which he does not want to do . Responsibility towards people is more stress generating than responsibility towards things . Other role stressors include lack of participation in decision – making , lack of managerial support and need for maintaining high standards of performance .
Interpersonal Relationships At Work
The nature of relationship with one’s boss, subordinates and colleagues also form a major source of stress . Poor relations involve low trust , low supportiveness and low interest in listening to and dealing with organizational problems . The members feel more stress if the boss is low on ‘ consideration’. ‘Task oriented’ managers cause more stress to subordinates than ‘people-oriented’ managers . Stress is generated not only by the pressure of relationship but also by a lack of adequate social support from colleagues during difficult situations.
Organizational Structure And Climate
This source of stress involves perception of being in the organization and a threat to one’s freedom , autonomy and identity. Specifically such stressors include , little or no participation in decision-making , lack of belongingness , lack of effective consultation , poor communication , restrictions on behavior and politics by some organizational members .
Leadership style may also cause stress . Suppose an employee needs a great deal of social support from his leader but the leader shows no concern or compassion for him . This employee will probably feel stressed . Similarly, assume an employee who has a strong need to participate in decision making and to be active in al aspects of management . But his boss is very autocratic and refuses to consult subordinates about anything . Naturally stress is likely to result .
Group pressure may include to restrict output , pressure to conform to the group’s norms , and so forth . for instance , it is quite common for a work group to arrive at an informal agreement about how much each member will produce .individuals who produce much more or much less than this level may by pressurized by the group to get back in line . a individual who feels a strong need to vary form the group’s expectations will experience a great deal of stress, especially if acceptance by the group is also important to him or her.
CONSEQUENCES OF STRESS
Consequences For The Organization
The consequences of stress on individuals may both direct and indirect impact on the organization . Specifically, the organization is affected in terms of the following :
Too much stress might lead to decline in performance of the individuals . Thus, overall productivity and quality will suffer leading to reduced margin of profit .
The individuals under stress may withdraw from the scene . There may be increased rates of absenteeism and labor turnover . An employee may withdraw psychologically ceasing to care about the organization .
Another direct organizational consequences of employees stress relates to attitude s . Job satisfaction , morale and organizational commitment can all suffer , along with motivation to perform at high levels . as a result , people may become more prone to complain about unimportant thinks , do only enough work to get by , and so forth .
Decision – making be delayed or even poor decisions might be taken if the decision – makers are under excessive stress .
If stress is common among the employees , it will hamper communication and
human relations in the organizations .
Consequences For The Individuals
Stress is the spice of life . Complete freedom from stress comes only in death . Stress becomes distress when we begin to sense a loss of our feelings of security and adequacy .it may produce physical ,behavior and psychological consequences as given below:
The physical or medical consequences of stress affect a person’s physical well being . heart disease and stroke , among other illness , have been linked to stress . other common problems resulting from too much stress includes headaches ,backaches , ulcers can related stomach and intestinal disorders , and skin conditions such as acne and hives .
The behavioral consequences of stress may harm the person under stress or others . One such behavior is smoking . research has clearly documented that people who smoke tend to smoke more when they experience stress . There is also evidence that alcohol and drug abuse are linked to stress , although this relationship is less well documented . Other possible behavioral consequences are accident proneness , violence and appetite disorders .
The psychological consequences of stress relate to a person’s mental health and well-being . When people experience too much stress at work , they may become depressed or find themselves sleeping too much or not enough . Stress may also lead to family problems and sexual difficulties.
Stress is inevitable in human life . There is, therefore , no way out but to cope with stress or fight it out . There are two strategies that can help the employees to cope with stress . These are the coping strategies at the organizational level.
Coping Strategies At The Organizational Level
Some of the essential organizational level strategies to manage stress :
Organizational Role Clarity
People experience stress when they are not clear about what they are expected to do in the organization . This may happen because either there is ambiguity in the role or there is role conflict . Such a situation can be overcome by defining each role more clearly . Role analysis technique helps to analyze what the job entails and what the expectations are . Breaking down the job to its various components will clarify the role of the job incumbent for the entire system . This will help to eliminate imposing unrealistic expectations on the individual leading to reduce stress .
Job may be source of stress to many individuals .properly designed jobs and work schedules can help ease stress in the individuals and the organization .
Stress Reduction And Stress Management Programs
Stress reduction programs aim to identify relevant organizational stressors and thus to reduce their effects .
A collateral stress programs is an organizational programs specifically created for the well-being of the employees . Organizations have adopted stress management programs , health promotion programs , career development programs , counseling and other kinds of programs for this purpose .
Supportive Organization Climate
Many organizational stressors emerge because of faulty organizational policies and practice . To a great extent , these can be controlled by creating supportive organizational climate . Supportive organizational climate depends upon managerial leadership rather than the use of power and money to control behavior . This focus is primarily on participation and involvement of employees in decision making process . Such a climate develops belongingness among the employees which helps them reduce their stress .
Counseling is discussion of a problem by a counselor with an employee with a view to help the employee cope wit it better . Counseling seeks to improve employees mental health by the release of emotional tension which is known as emotional catharsis . People get an emotional release from their frustrations and other problems whenever they have an opportunity to tell someone about them .