Stress in the Workplace
Three out of every four Americans describe their work as stressful. As a matter of fact, occupational stress has been defined as a “global epidemic” by the United Nations’ International Labor Organization.(APA, 2014 ) Workplace stress has cost U.S. employers an estimated $200 billion per year in absenteeism, lower productivity, staff turnover, workers’ compensation, medical insurance and other stress related expenses. Stress management can be considered to be one of a business’s most important challenges of the 21st century.
Stress is defined as a person’s adaptive response to a stimulus that places excessive psychological or physical on the person. (Schenk, p.181) Stress is a factor in every one’s life, particularly during major events such as marriage, divorce or buying a home. According to the Holmes-Rahe Life Events Scale, which rates the levels of stress caused by such events, many of the most stressful events are related to the workplace: firings, business readjustments, changes in financial status, altered responsibilities, a switch to a different line of work, trouble with the boss, variations in work hours or conditions, retirement and vacations. (Gordreau, 2013) Stress isn’t always considered a bad thing, surprisingly, because no one can usually reach a peak performance without being stressed. The human natural response behavior is to experience stress, react to it with increased tension and then return to a relaxed, normal state. Most of the problems occur when the pattern is unbroken and the stress is so overwhelming and constant. Finding the Root of Stress
The level of occupational stress can be determined by three dimensions; life situations, work and self, and the balance between the causes of the stress and the support system one may have must be considered. Sources of stress can vary tremendously. For some factory workers, stress can often be related directly to the work situation which may include working with heavy equipment or working in an uncomfortable environment. Office workers stress levels can be totally different and can be caused by more interpersonal relationships on the job. Occupational stress is not related only to what goes on at work, but conflicts between the demands at the workplace and of the home life are increasingly common. According to a survey completed for the U.S. Department of Labor, 10 percent of people who work are married or living with children under 18 experience severe work-family conflict, and an additional 25 percent report moderate levels of conflict. (APA,2014) One of the most reported causes of stress is workload. Employees work more than they did 25 years ago, the equivalent of a 13th month each year. In most situations the staff are being downsized, but the workload continues to grow. Also, changes in the office procedures are happening more rapidly than any other time in history. Everything today is totally different than fifty years ago when the nature of one’s job remained the same the entire tenure of that job. Jobs are also moving at a faster pace with faxes and instant e-mail messages. Some professions are especially more prone to stress due to the changes in technology. For example, an airline pilot is not flying a more complicated plane, carrying more people or more pressing time demands and with much heavier traffic low at the airports.
Technology in today’s society has enabled employers to eliminate many jobs. This puts not only fear on employees of being replaced by a machine, but also those who are able to keep their jobs have to go through continuous training and tend to have a higher level or responsibility, and therefore stress levels increase. Stress levels can also so be increased due to other organizational changes, such as, increased use of part time help, management changes, increased diversity and pay cuts or freeze, which all in all leads to job...
References: Goudreau, J. (2013, March 20). 12 Ways To Eliminate Stress At Work. Forbes. Retrieved March 10, 2014, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/jennagoudreau/2013/03/20/12-ways-to-eliminate-stress-at-work/
Organizational Behavior (pp. 177-201). (2012). Individual Pricesses in Organizations. Manson, OH: Michael Schenk.
Stress in the Workplace. (n.d.). http://www.apa.org. Retrieved March 11, 2014, from http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/workplace-stress.aspx
Stress in the Workplace: A Costly Epidemic. (n.d.). Stress in the Workplace: A Costly Epidemic. Retrieved March 10, 2014, from http://www.fdu.edu/newspubs/magazine/99su/stress.html
Workplace Stress. (n.d.). The American Institute of Stress. Retrieved March 11, 2014, from http://www.stress.org/workplace-stress/
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