Work-Related Stress

Definitions of stress vary. Stress is the adverse reaction towards excessive pressure and demand. However, work-related stress is the physiological, emotional, behavioral and cognitive reaction towards noxious and aversive work aspects, work organizations and work environments. Work-related stress is caused by a mismatch between the demands of a job and the available resources. Additionally, individual employees have varying capabilities as far as meeting these demands is concerned. Due to pressure in the workplace, people develop stress. Studies indicate that there is a strong relationship between workplace stress and both physical as well as mental disorders. However, a direct linkage between these phenomena is not clearly established yet since most syndromes and diseases attributable to stress have numerous causes (Losyk, 2005). For this reason, workplace stress is a problem that requires elaborate responses from policymakers and employers. Work-related stresses impact one’s health in behavioral, cognitive, physical and emotional ways. Social standing influences people’s longevity and health. Research indicates that workplace stress can equally culminate in physical infirmities; it leads to many mental and physical disorders.

Model of Workplace Stress

Workplace stress causes physical as well as mental disorders. This happens when people are prompted to engage in dangerous activities that result in ill health. Physiologically, edginess and bodily reactions cause mental as well as physical illnesses. Cognitively, the working conditions lead to stress (Kompier & Cooper, 1999). Work-related stress leads to emotional strain. This enhances the potentiality of showing dangerous behaviors. Such behaviors may include eating disorders, panic, self-harm, depression, smoking, anxiety or alcoholism. Stress triggers a biological response towards threatening and challenging events. Potential stressors redirect blood flow from internal organs and the skull to the brain and muscles; fatty acids and glucose provide energy. The immune system, digestion and restorative processes slow down; therefore, all this makes an individual vulnerable to behavioral and psychological disorder. This affects their mental and physical wellbeing as well as staff turnover, job performance, absence levels and productivity (Stauder & Salavecz, 2014).

Workplace demands affect people’s physiological and psychological performance. With the failure to cope with stressful situations, the body remains in a constant state of defensive action and alertness. This increases the strain of biological systems culminating to exhaustion and damage. The weakening of the body’s immune system makes people vulnerable to illness. This can lead to muscular tension, indigestion, disturbed sleep, headaches, chest pains, palpitations as well as increased susceptibility to many respiratory infections (Van, 2011). Illnesses attributable to workplace stress include ulcers, high cholesterol levels, asthma, diabetes, cancer, heart disease and hypertension. Stress is emerging as the most costly of all the work-related illnesses. Recent studies indicate that overwork issues in most contemporary organizations contribute to increased stressed cases.

Results of the Research

This research paper identified the causes of work-related stress. The research also delved into the relationship between contemporary life and stress. As a result, a strong correlation between contemporary life and work-related stress was found to exist. Moreover, the research also helped in unearthing policy frameworks as well as legal provisions that help or can help in curbing work-related stress. Lastly, the research helped in identifying workplace stress management and prevention model.

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The Causes of Workplace Stress

Most organizational studies show that giving employees huge workloads can lead to stress. This is because it increases work demands and strain. This is especially the case in central government, local government, insurance, health services, education and finance (Tennant, 2001). Huge workloads leave employees overwhelmed. Additionally, staff cuts also lead to workplace stress since the reduction of employees without a respective decrease in workload pile puts pressure on them. It becomes difficult to meet the new work demands, leading to both physical and emotional strain. Moreover, change can also become a workplace stressor as it breeds new job requirements. Such requirements may imply on-the-job training, seminars and workshops to ensure that everyone within the organization is well acquainted with them. Continuous learning may be a stressor (Edwards, 2003). Again, changes in the organization or management demand that people adapt to the new changes. Additionally, long working hours and bullying have also been known to cause workplace stress. In the same way, people who work in jobs that involve shifts are highly susceptible to stress. Stress and overwork are inextricably intertwined and they lead to work-related stress (Davoren & McCauley, 2007). Moreover, any event that enhances job insecurity may also cause work-related stress. Lastly, racial discrimination, as well as sexual harassment, also causes workplace stress.

Workplace Stress in Relation to Contemporary Life

Workplace stress is related to many value and identity discursive constructions. In contemporary life, cultural changes coupled with consumerism and newfangled communication technologies are to blame for the increased reports of work-related stress. Social change breeds ontological insecurity. Such stress is unbearably intense. Obviously, it leads to a decline in happiness levels. Even with huge resources and incomes, people cannot feel happier. Instead, the increase in alcoholism, crime and depression is the result of workplace stress. Organizations should seek to maximize happiness for their employees to enhance job satisfaction. Work, family relationships, community, financial situation and friends affect happiness. A healthy work-life balance is essential in curbing workplace stress; in fact, it obstructs happiness. Working harder with the intent of enhancing one’s social status and increase wealth requires tact. People’s social standing influences longevity and health. Alleviating social disparities is integral in enhancing public health. Family-friendly work organizations, cooperation and job security reduce workplace stress. Status syndrome asserts that health follows a particular social gradient and improves with a rise in the socio-economic hierarchy. Social segregation at work is detrimental to people’s health as it leads to workplace stress. Social participation and self-determination help in combating workplace stress (Gatto, 1993).

Workplace stress is an issue of safety and health. Indeed, it has authentic psychological and physical symptoms accompanied by serious consequences, particularly to the victims. Epidemiological approaches indicate that work-related stress is the result of high job demand, lower social support and inadequate job control. Stress is objectively and intrinsically pathogenic. It is the outcome of the inevitable but natural response towards limits of resilience and human endurance (Douglas, 2009). Statistical evidence points out that long working hours, low pay levels, inadequate job security and coercive management styles are to blame for workplace stress. Pressure and failure to cope with difficult situations and changing working conditions and patterns make employees experience workplace stress. Towards this end, it becomes necessary to use relaxation exercises and counseling to manage workplace stress. It results in reduced compensation claims and lower frequency of sick leaves while promoting organizational productivity simultaneously. Fortunately, people’s awareness of mental and physical vulnerability occasioned by a therapeutic state and victimhood culture has prompted people to take the issue of workplace stress with the seriousness it deserves. Mental and emotional wellbeing is instrumental in enhancing organizational productivity and eventually reducing workplace stress. People should learn to respond to job pressures too. Depression, fatigue and solitude require medical intervention.

Policy Frameworks and Legal Provisions

Political and social debates notwithstanding, workplace stress requires concrete, elaborate and sound responses from policymakers and employers. Legally, employer liability arises from common law. Employers owe a duty of care to employees (Skogstad, Skorstad, Lie, Conradi, & Heir, 2013). This requires a safe and good working environment. Moreover, it also incorporates protection of employees from any foreseeable risks. The safety and health of employees is very important to an organization. The most legislation provides that employees can seek compensation of their employers upon breach of such requirements. However, finding the direct linkage between cause and impact of stress is hard for courts. It is important to note that no legislation deals with workplace stress directly. However, certain laws exist tailored to tackle work-related stress. Some of these laws require that employers act appropriately in order to control stress-related risks associated with work activities. Employers should guarantee welfare, health and safety of their employees during work. Workplace stress is a workplace hazard. Regulations to limit the duration of work help to address stress by eliminating long work hours as well as insufficient rest through holidays and leaves. It is the responsibility of employers to guarantee good health to their employees. Organizational regulations should seek to regulate the number of working hours to ensure that employees get adequate rest. Moreover, it is important to give workers leaves and even holidays (Klink et al, 2001).

Effective management of human resources is important. This is possible through communication between employees and employers as well as apposite work organization and suitable working environments.  Governments, employee and employer organizations recognize the adverse effects of work-related stress. Towards this end, construction of effective policies is highly efficient in tackling this menace. Management standards help in buttressing existing legislations as well as giving vivid guidance to organizations. Non-compliance to these standards provides the requisite evidence against those employers who ignore this huge responsibility (Davies, 2005). However, these policies cannot suffice to eliminate the incessant workplace stress problem. Seeking long-standing government commitment towards enhancing safety and health is important in reducing stress as well as managing its effects. Educating employees on the gravity of the adverse effects of work-related stress also helps considerably. For this reason, employees should equally be involved in the formulation of policies to address this problem.

Stress Prevention and Management Model

Work-related stress mitigation measures and intervention strategies are in three categories. First, primary intervention strategies seek to militate against workplace stress arising by targeting the job, employee or even the workplace-worker interface (Rauschenbach, Krumm, Thielgen, & Hertel, 2013). They seek to prevent the occurrence of workplace stress through both proactive and reactive ways. Secondly, secondary intervention strategies seek to minimize effects of work-related stress as well as decrease the gravity of its effects. They focus on individual employees. Lastly, tertiary intervention strategies involve treating and identifying the adverse effects of work-related stress coupled with rehabilitating the affected people. Relaxation guidance, cognitive reappraisal, education on nutrition and exercises and training in coping skills is important (Kulvinskiené & Apcelauskaité,  2014). By creating a healthy organization, managers seek to strike a balance between the interests and demands of stakeholders like shareholders, consumers, government and the community. Curbing work-related stress requires a multipronged approach characterized by effective communication and honest feedback. Matching jobs with the employees’ needs and expertise is vital in effectively managing and rewarding performance. Additionally, involving workers in the decision-making process and change as well as supporting them is important too. This requires a cultural change and improvement of workplace conditions (Schaubroeck, Ganster & Fox, 1992).

Impact of the Relational/Interpersonal Challenge

Workplace stress is both relational as well as the international challenge. Work-related stress influences the way people relate with each other within a work environment. Leaders within organizations face the greatest responsibility of handling a stressed workforce due to a decline in productivity. Moreover, it is important that leaders advocate policies that safeguard the health of employees. Having majored in human development and leadership, workplace stress is an issue that will affect my career directly. I think, taking consideration of the match between resources and personnel is critical in my career, as it will help greatly in bolstering organizational productivity in whichever station I work. Essentially, balancing work and life is a panacea for work-related stress.

Recommended Strategies

It is important for organizations to put in place specific safety and health standards in an effort to curb work-related stress. Additionally, it is important to carry out a thorough assessment of potential stressors. This will help avert workplace stress. It is also important to mediate the influence of problems and dysfunction that employees experience. This should involve counselors, doctors, psychiatrists and doctors. Through cognitive-behavioral treatments, curbing work-related stress is easy and cheap. Lastly, the use of case management strategy and occupational rehabilitation is integral in providing individual treatment as well as rehabilitation upon successful diagnosis. This cannot be possible without the proper risk assessment. However, while prevention of work-related stress may not be feasible, organizations should adopt it as an appropriate strategy.

Conclusion

It is indisputable that work-related stress is a major concern for most organizations today. Without sound prevention strategies aimed at curbing this issue, employees will continue to suffer. As mentioned earlier, work-related stress is a major cause of mental and physical disorders. It can also lead to infirmity. Organizations should adopt proper strategies to ensure that their employees do not become victims of work-related stress. Stress affects individuals differently, but it is difficult to determine the relationship between unhappiness and ill health.

References:

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  2. Davies, R. (2005). Don’t stress! [work-related stress]. Engineering Management, 15(1), 20.
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  4. Edwards, H. (2003). Stress in the workplace: How to cause it. London: New Holland.
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  6. Kulvinskiené, V., & Apcelauskaité, G. (2014). Insurance intermediaries’ work-related stress: Connections with labour productivity. Ekonomika, 93(1), 146.
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  9. Rauschenbach, C., Krumm, S. , Thielgen, M. , & Hertel, G. (2013). Age and work-related stress: A review and meta-analysis. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 28(7/8), 781-804.
  10. Schaubroeck, J., Ganster, D., & Fox, M. (1992). Dispositional affect and work-related stress. Journal of Applied Psychology, 77(3), 322-335.
  11. Skogstad, M., Skorstad, M. , Lie, A. , Conradi, H. & Heir, T. (2013). Work-related post-traumatic stress disorder. Occupational Medicine (Oxford, England), 63(3), 175-182.
  12. Stauder, A., & Salavecz, G. (2014). Work-related stress and subjective somatic symptoms. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 76(6), 515.
  13. Tennant, C. (2001). Work-related stress and depressive disorders. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 51(5), 697-704.
  14. Van, H. K. (2011).Social work under pressure: How to overcome stress, fatigue and burnout in the workplace. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
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