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Workplace Stress and How to Manage It

Autor:   •  November 8, 2018  •  3,255 Words (14 Pages)  •  4,909 Views

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What Causes Workplace Stress?

McShane and Von Glinow (2009) determined “there are numerous stressors in the workplace”, but the most common sources of stress include “harassment and incivility, workload, and lack of task control” (p. 80). Harassment and incivility include poor employee behavior toward other co-workers, negative conflicts, bullying, verbal attacks, sexual harassment, and workplace violence (McShane & Von Glinow, 2009, pp. 80-81). Aytac and Dursun (2012) found these types of behaviors in an organization can cause “employees to experience stress, anxiety, burnout, and depression” (p. 3026).

Kumar and Kumar (2014) highlighted that globalization and technology have made today’s businesses more competitive and demanding than ever (p. 345). Employees now have the capability to be connected to work 24/7 due to advances in technology, and companies strive for increased productivity and achieve this by reducing their workforce and increasing work hours and workloads. These factors can both lead to work overload and stress for employees (Kar & Praharaj, 2013, p. 534 & McShane & Von Glinow, 2009, p. 81). Jang, Zippay, and Park (2012) determined the more time a person commits to working the more conflicts that occur between their personal and professional life which also contribute to higher levels of stress (p. 898).

Workplace stress is also caused by factors an employee has little control over or may not have the ability to change. Mofoluwake and Oluremi (2013) found employees that lack job clarity, have no control over their work, or are not allowed to give input often experience more stress (p. 78). Jobs that provide little or no opportunities for growth or are not challenging can also contribute to stress among workers (APA, 2016, para. 6). Additionally, an unhealthy organizational climate, company restructures or downsizing, changes in organizational policies, or unsafe working conditions can all contribute to increased employee strain (Mofoluwake & Oluremi, 2013, p. 78).

Methods to Manage Workplace Stress

McShane and Von Glinow (2009) noted one way to effectively manage workplace stress is to eliminate the stressor (p. 83). It is beneficial for employees to be aware of what triggers their stress to develop methods to remove or reduce it, but organizations play a critical role in eliminating stress for their workforce (APA, 2016, para. 9). They often control what produces stress for their employees and have the ability to promote an effective work/life balance, to design jobs that reduce stress by giving employees a higher level of control over their work, and to create safe working conditions for their staff (Buys et al., 2010, p. 26).

A healthy work/life balance can assist with reducing or eliminating the stress produced by conflicts between an employee’s personal and professional life. Organizations can successfully promote this by offering employees schedules that are flexible, consenting to job sharing, allowing workers time off for family leave, and permitting employees to work from home (Jang et al., 2012, pp. 897, 899). Jang et al. (2012) determined these are all inexpensive approaches to diminish this stressor for workers and can lead to decreased job stress (p. 908). Working from home, however, should be used very carefully as this option has the potential to increase stress by blurring the lines between work and home life (Jang et al., 2012, p. 909).

Chiang, Birtch, and Kwan (2010) highlighted the stress of having low task control can be reduced by giving employees more autonomy or control over of their work (p. 30). This can be done through giving workers a higher degree of responsibility over their tasks and involving them in the decision making process. They should feel as though they are an integral part of the organization. Personal development, opportunities for growth, and employee recognition are also important. Employees who are highly satisfied with their jobs have been shown to experience less job stress (Grawitch, Ballard, & Erb, 2015, pp. 265-266).

A focus on organizational safety can remove or reduce the stress of unsafe working conditions as well as the stress associated with harassment and incivility. Buys et al. (2010) highlighted the importance of utilizing employee safety training to promote a safe work environment (p. 26). Training is beneficial as it assists with increased workplace safety, reduces stress from unsafe working conditions, and decreases worker compensation claims (Buys et al., 2010, p. 26). Additionally, issues surrounding harassment, conflict, or bullying in the workplace should be addressed immediately. Organizations should have policies and procedures as well as training initiatives in place that prevent or reduce this type of behavior (Aytac & Dursun, 2012, p. 3030). Aytac and Dursun (2012) found these precautions can decrease or eliminate this source of stress and reduce employee strain (p. 3030).

McShane and Von Glinow (2009) also determined workers can better cope with stress in the workplace if they withdraw from it (p 83). Employees should take time away from work, and organizations should encourage that their workers utilize their breaks, vacations, and personal time. McShane and Von Glinow (2009) stated “research indicates that leisure time significantly improves the employees’ ability to cope with work-related stress” (p. 83). Bowen, Edwards, Lingard, and Cattell (2014) also determined participating in extracurricular activities or hobbies are also effective ways for employees to take time away from the stresses of work (p. 2).

By changing how we perceive stress, we can better manage or decrease it as well. Employees should focus on what positives can be gained from a stressful situation and set goals for themselves rather than focus on the negative aspects surrounding stress. We are more likely to easily navigate through a stressful situation if we have an end result in mind (McShane & Von Glinow, 2009, p. 83). Stress management programs can be a valuable tool for organizations to use to assist their employees with changing their perceptions of stress. These programs aim to help employees recognize what causes stress and how to effectively cope with it, and they focus on changing workers’ viewpoints of stress through positive thinking techniques (Limm et al., 2011, p. 127). Werneburg et al. (2011) noted participants who completed a stress reduction program demonstrated substantial enhancements in their stress levels (p. 361). Limm et al. (2011) also determined using stress management programs decreased stress among participants (p. 130).

Social support is an additional method for reducing


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