Coursework Example: Stress at Work

enter image description here Introduction Stress and any type of pressure at work are considered to be an integral part of people’s lives in today’s rapid flow of development. It can provide one with stimulus and energy; it makes a person challenge him or herself in order to assess his or her ability to deal with tough situations. Stress makes people uncover their hidden talents and make their own, sometimes risky decisions. Still, pressure is not always stimulating and helpful. Too much negative emotions can lead to loss of control and general perception of the situation. Stress at work is regarded as an extremely serious issue nowadays, because it affects both physical and mental well-being of the employee, and, consequently, has a considerable impact on the employer’s profit. For this reason, it is essential to define the concept of stress and be aware of its possible causes and effects. The Concept of Stress The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Chris Rowe gives the following definition of stress, “the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them” (Rowe 2009). It means that if someone has too many problems to tackle or lives or works in such conditions that prevent him or her from altering the situation, he or she is greatly exposed to stress, which will surely lead to serious outcomes and even more problems than a person has at the moment. As a rule, people manage to find out the solutions for their problems and resolve the situation without considerable losses and changes in their general state of body and mind. If they are really overwhelmed with pressures, stress defeats the pattern of evolution to come back to normal state after all these troubles that people had to overcome, and sets its own conditions, which are far away from normal. Stress at work is usually connected with the working environment, employee’s mental state, type of work, amount of tasks to do and many other factors. Depending on these factors, different kinds of stress exist. Kristin Koch (n.d.) defines the following eight types: 1) The worker always does something, he or she does not make any decisions, is “always on someone else’s schedule“. Koch names this type “overworked underling”. 2) The second type is “frustrated go-getter”. This person works as hard as he or she can, but does not get any promotion or at least compensation. 3) “Castaway” is someone who is absolutely ignored as if he or she is alone in the office. 4) “Doormat” has to deal with all customers even though they are demanding and abusive, and remain calm, professional and courteous. 5) For the fifth type, “tech person”, work has become his personal life as due to different gadgets, he or she can always be reached by the boss. 6) The “burnout” is utterly exhausted, because of working hours or amount of task. Koch (n.d.) says that people are physically and emotionally exhausted if they work in the emergency room, for instance. 7) “Bully target” is usually someone who is bullied by the boss or sees him or her bulling others. This person has to meet impossibly tight deadlines and is reprimanded in front of the staff. 8) The one who considers his or her work unfair is mistreated, and does arbitrary and unclear tasks, which can be called “wronged victim” (Koch n.d.). All in all, stress is a person’s reaction to the problems and pressures that he or she has to deal with. These and other factors influence the type of stress, among which Koch (n.d.) singles out “overworked underling”, “frustrated go-getter”, “castaway”, “doormat”, “tech person”, “burnout”, “bully target”, and “wronged victim”. Causes of Stress Different scientists provide diverse reasons for stress at work. If to follow the American Institute of Stress (n.d.), the main causes of this kind of stress are a combination of work and personal lives (20%), workload (46%), people issues (28%) and lack of job security (6%). Maxon (1999) suggests that employees of the factory, for example, are stressed because of working conditions, like having to cope with dangerous equipment or risking their health by inhaling chemicals and dust in the air. Office staff, on the contrary, is usually stressed due to relationships in the group. They are afraid to come into rivalry with colleagues or boss, be left alone without any possibility to get help or at least share the problem with someone. According to the report of the Health and Safety Executive Chris Rowe (2009), the state of the individual and the kind of relationships within the group are closely connected with six main factors – demands, level of control, management support, role, relationships and change. Although there are a lot of causes of stress at work, the main underlying ones, as HSE claims, are poor communication and insufficient training (Rowe 2009). Demands mean the amount of work the employee has to do. It is obvious that in order to be motivated and interested in what he or she does, the worker needs some challenge and pressure. If he or she is overloaded with the number of tasks to complete or the amount of information to process, the person becomes irritable, depressed and confused. Apparently, the greatest part of all employers try to ultimately control every process and every single worker, because he or she feels more confident and satisfied if everything is the way he or she wants. Clear rules, procedures and ways of conduct are important and often beneficial in the working process as they shorten the amount of questionable issues, but there are also drawbacks of this total control. The employees need to feel that they are able to control what they are doing, the way they do it and when they should finish it. If they are not allowed to take control any of these, workers are disaffected and alienated, and for that reason they do not perform well (Rowe 2009).

Support of the organization plays an important role in the way the employee feels and works. If he or she is provided with different benefits, this person feels confident, calm and sure of tomorrow. When one knows that he or she can talk to a manager in case of a problem or about anything that troubles him or her, then this person works as a part of the team, performs well and is less exposed to stress than the one who is left alone with the problematic issue. Rowe (2009) claims that if the worker does not feel free to talk to administration about the issue, he or she is more likely to be on the sick leave. Everyone would agree with the statement that if a person is in good relationships with boss and colleagues, he or she performs better and cannot be stressed about his or her life within a group. On the contrary, the one who feels alone or is bullied, ignored or mistreated cannot be satisfied with the situation and is more likely to quit or have problems with discipline. For that reason, managers and employers should be more aware of the situation in the staff and encourage cooperation. Role in the establishment is also important. One needs to know, what he or she is doing. The purpose of one’s work, his or her necessity and significance for the organization are topical as well. What is more, if the tasks are clear, there will not be any problems in accomplishing them, and an employee understands that he/ she performs well and for that reason is needed in the company. If the situation is completely different, the worker will be stressed about his role in the whole process. Change is often regarded as a positive fact as it usually brings flexibility, new opportunities and prosperity to the organization. However, very often employers do not care about the thorough preparation of the staff to possible alterations. It frequently happens that the employees get new equipment and are sufficiently trained, but there are people who need extra specifications, because their equipment or the type of work is a bit different and they feel perplexed. If they did not get explanation, they cannot do their job in a good way and get stressed. Effects of Work-Related Stress According to Maxon (1999), three quarters of all American employees are exposed to stress at work. United Nations’ International Labor Organization claimed that stress at work is a “global epidemic”. Brun (n.d.) provides the data, which backs up the claim about the global epidemic of stress. The statistics is astonishing: each year stress losses for the US enterprises cost $300 billion (Brun n.d.). Maxon (1999) says that stress costs in the USA make up to $200. Work-related stress usually results in staff turnover, absenteeism, workers’ compensation, lower productivity and other expenses for enterprises. Because of this Maxon (1999) suggests that “stress management may be business's most important challenge of the 21st century”. Consequently, the employers should consider every stress factor they can and try to prevent their workers from facing them. Stress brings troubles not only to the establishments, but to the workers first of all. It radically changes their well-being. Pressure and stress are reported to lead to heart attacks, strokes, different gastrointestinal problems like ulcer or gastritis. If a person lives in stressful conditions or works in a stressful environment, he or she is more likely to catch cold as his or her immune system gets weaker. Psychological effects of stress can be significant as well. Stress may end up in anxiety and depression; panic and anger attacks are also possible (Maxon 1999). All in all, stress at work is a serious issue that should be considered. Stress is a person’s reaction towards unhealthy environment, inappropriate treatment or any other factor. Considering these factors, scientists define different types of stress at work. For example, Koch (n.d.) indicates eight types. It is very important to be aware of the causes of stress and look for the ways to tackle it, because work-related stress influences both organization as it raises absenteeism, sick leaves, redundancy and low productivity rates, and employees, because stress can cause heart attacks, gastroenterological diseases and psychological disorders. Reference List Brun, J-P n.d., Work-related stress: Scientific evidence-base of risk factors, prevention and costs, Laval University, viewed 9 December 2013. Koch, K n.d., ‘Job killing you? 8 types of work-related stress’, Health, viewed 9 December 2013. Martin, J 2012 ‘Stress at work is bunk for business’ Forbes, viewed 9 December 2013. Maxon, R 1999, ‘Stress in the workplace: A costly epidemic’, Fairleigh Dickinson University, viewed 9 December 2013. Rowe, C 2009, Stress at work, ACAS advisory booklet, Health and Safety Executive, viewed 9 December 2013. The American Institute of Stress n.d., Workplace stress, viewed 9 December 2013.

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