Stress at work refers to detrimental emotional and physical reactions that prevail when the conditions at work are not equivalent to the capabilities, needs or resources of the employee. Workers who are subjected to occupational stress at work do not perform their duties to full potential. Therefore it is vital that an organization should protect its employees from falling prey to work stress. This can be achieved by having a proper management team that plays its tasks of reviewing job descriptions (Landy, 73). This is to ensure that employees handle tasks which they can efficiently execute without any difficulties. When employees are subjected to stress while performing their jobs, it is important to know the source of such a stress. At times this occupational stress is brought about by employees’ conditions at home or any other factors that affects them while they are out of work. It is also possible that the stress at work is an organizational phenomenon especially if it is the conditions at work that cause employee stress. The rational of this paper is to determine the extent to which stress at work is an individual or organizational phenomenon.
Studies show that at least fifteen percent of all individuals who work are undergoing through stress in their jobs. Thus, stress is a major concern for many employees and this affects their performance at work adversely (Zedeck, 56). However, it is also evident that stress levels for employees have continued to fall significantly from the previous years. This can be attributed to the various stress management strategies that have been formulated to control this work scourge. There also exists a gender difference in dealing with stress at work. It is believed that women are more affected by stress at work than their men counterparts. This is mainly as a result of the fact that women are exposed to various stressors which prove to be difficult to handle by them. Some women are faced by multiple roles where they have to take care of their families and also provide for them. This makes them vulnerable to stress both at work and home (Linley, 46). Another reason that makes women to be more susceptible to stress is the fact that most women lack progress in their careers.
This is due to the responsibilities that they are tied upon which hinder them from furthering on their careers. Hence this makes some of them to feel as junior employees in an organization. Another major factor that brings the difference in work stress management between men and women is stereotyping and discrimination. Women have over a long time been discriminated especially in the workplace where men put themselves on top of everything. This makes women to be the weaker sex, a situation that also prevails in managing their stress. Even though men also experience a number of stressors in the workplace, their stress levels are lower compared to those of women (Johnson, 132). It is believed that men have a higher ability of managing stress than women hence they can withstand various conditions imposed on them. The stress coping strategies that are formulated have helped to manage and minimize stress in the workplace. However, most of these strategies only help to minimize the stress but do not concentrate in removing the stressors. Thus, as these strategies are put forward, people will continue to experience stress since the stressors have not yet been removed.
Organizations that focus in reducing stress among their employees should therefore focus on ways of getting rid of the factors that contribute to the stress. Failure to which, they will achieve very minimal results in dealing with stress at the workplace (Statt, 42). In the 21st century there have been a lot of issues which keep on affecting the well being of employees in the workplace and consequently result to stress. Issues ranging from the economic downturns, widespread layoffs and very little incomes are some of the factors which stress many employees. At the workplace workers are subjected to meeting strict deadlines and very high expectations from their managers (Deresky, 47). This presents a situation where striking the balance between the workplace tasks and out of work responsibilities becomes hard. Therefore, many workers are caught up in stress and other health issues as a result of these issues. It is also a fact that workers faced with stress are highly susceptible to making mistakes in their course of work while others may injure themselves. This means they would even be forced to be absent from work as a result of that. With the increased costs of healthcare this translates into lots of cost for them to maintain a healthy life.
This is attributed to the emerging issues in the recent times which have left people with many responsibilities yet they earn meager incomes. People are therefore left with very little income for themselves (Storey, 28). Hence living a happy life becomes almost impossible to many workers. In the current times job insecurity is perceived as a very worst condition for many employees. It is even believed that most people would rather be unemployed than knowing that they are doing an insecure job (Drenth, 68). Being laid off from work is a stressful issue which many people find difficult to handle. Consequently, anticipating for this to happen even brings more stress to workers who suffer job insecurity. Many workers whose jobs are insecure are faced by great anxiety and end up being entangled in a lot of stress and other health issues as a result. It is even argued that prolonged effects of job insecurity would lead to heart complications to workers or even cancer in the worst scenarios (Schneider, 37). It is also evident that most workers would take up on substance abuse as a way of controlling their stress which results to adverse health effects.
Long working hours is a prime stressor to many workers and it is viewed that the set working hours are not the expectation of many workers. Employees expect that they should work within few hours which would give them an opportunity to conduct other personal issues and also rest. However, many jobs are characterized by longer working hours coupled with very little incomes. Studies show that working longer hours may result to deprived psychological performance, injuries in the workplace and a lot of sickness (Perle, 98). Working hours are supposed to be set in a way that they don’t deprive the performance of workers. Employees should be given enough time to rest from the hustle and bustle of their jobs. It is also vital to reward employees well especially in situations where there are longer working hours. This would create incentives for them to work without any stress. In the recent era, working has been made very efficient especially as a result of the new technology (Schultz, 118).
Many organizations are working towards achieving autonomy of their employees so as to enhance their organizational objectives. Therefore, control of work in organizations which embrace trends like autonomous work teams is mostly supported through technology (Barrick, 132). Managers can effectively control employees in these autonomous teams through the available technology. The manger does not need to hold a lot of meetings in order to control the teams. This is made possible by technology, for instance, communications can be achieved through various video conferences or via Skype. Employees’ autonomy is very vital in accomplishing the organizational goals. Workers who have autonomy are believed to perform much better due to that sense of independence that exists in their work. Hence, control becomes even much easier due to the fact that managers would be dealing with happier employees who know their job very well. Thus, control in such autonomous groups is in a way decentralized such that it is not a responsibility of a single person to control a group of workers.
In a situation where workers are subjected to stressful conditions at the workplace, justice comes in to play a mediating role. Justice can either be sought by the employees or by their employers though the latter is not so active on that. Employees who feel that their work is causing stress on them would seek justice from their managers (Arnold, 89). If employees are granted the justice they deserve then the whole issue becomes a settled matter of the past. However, if no considerations are made regarding the deplorable conditions at the workplace it is highly likely that employees would quit from work. Thus, justice plays a mediating function between employees facing stress at the workplace and the organization (Warr, 102). This means that employers should do justice to their employees to ensure that sanity prevails at the workplace.
In the first case study, the lorry driver is prone to some stresses in the workplace and also at home. To begin with, the income of the lorry driver is quite low and hence life has become difficult for him especially in taking care of the family. The driver also notes that there is over working in his organization. He goes further to say that there is even no time for fun, this means that the driver works for longer hours. The driver also recognizes that the organization does not provide social facilities such as social clubs or football teams to the employees. These are important incentives for employees to help divert their minds from the workplace environment. Another source of stress cited by the driver is the short contracts given by the organization which result to job insecurity for the workers. Lastly, the driver asserts that boredom, working in isolation and employee health and safety are some of the things that contribute to stress in the workplace.
This case can be associated with the stimulus theories of work stress. This is because of how the driver’s perceptions on the nature of his work. The driver believes this is an insecure job which has changed its conditions over time to the present stressful conditions that prevail. It is relevant that job security is a prime stressor for many workers. The driver worries he may not be aware of what tomorrow holds for him since his contract can be cut at any time. It is also a fact that organizations that do not avail social amenities to their employees increase their stress levels. This is because their employees do not get time off from the stressful working conditions. Thus, employees view such organizations as profit making entities which do not care about the welfare of employees. As a consultant for this organization I would urge the management to assure workers about their job security.
This can be achieved by prolonging the contract period for the employees.
This would be vital if employees were sure about the security of their jobs. I would also propose that the organization provides some social activities for it workers. This would include things such as; employees’ fun day or provision of sporting activities for the workers. Furthermore, I would urge the management to encourage team work amongst the employees. This helps to get rid of boredom and isolation amongst the workers. The management would also be advised to raise the employee’s salary as a way of providing incentives for work. Lastly the company must also adopt a very comprehensive health and safety policy for its employees (Roberts, 134). These solutions are very feasible since they do not incur huge costs to the company except for the employees’ salaries which is core to the organization. Consequently, provision of social activities would be a way of the company to achieve corporate social responsibility.
In the second case study, the high flyer is exposed to stress at home than in her workplace. The sources of her stress include; providing for her family, spending little time with her son and also making sure that her employees are paid their salaries. The relevant theory for this case is the transaction theory of stress (James, 92). This is because it is the demands of her job that create stress on her. For instance, she would be stressed if the employees are not paid or if her job reduces the time she spends with her son. From this case, we are able to see how stress at home can impact on employees at work. Being the family breadwinner this woman is faced by many responsibilities which might affect her on the job. It is also evident of how longer working hours can create stress to employees. This woman is stressed because she thinks she is spending little time with her son. This is a peculiar case that depicts the life of an employer and the stress that she experiences in ensuring that the organization runs well. As a consultant, I would urge this lady to employ a director for the company. This would help her to create enough time for her family and also time to oversee the new business.
The director would also be left with the task of ensuring that employees are paid on time and every activity runs well. I would also propose to the lady to advice the husband to get a job so that they may share the family responsibility. This would help to minimize the stress related to her responsibilities. Based on the gravity of the issues stressing the lady, hiring a director would be a feasible solution. However, the salary for the director would be sensible considering the lady will not be stressed thereafter. Hence this is a workable approach which is low on costs and also does not take a lot of time. In conclusion, the study shows that workers in this era are undergoing through a lot of stress in their workplace. This is as a result of the detrimental working conditions that they are given by their organizations. The most significant causes of stress includes; longer working hours, low salaries, higher expectations from employers, increased work load and job insecurity. All these factors lead to stress which affects the employees’ performance and also their health. Organizations must therefore work to ensure that they provide better conditions so as to minimize the stress in the workplace.
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