Determinants of Job Stress

One major source of job stress is the job itself. The way the job is designed, the amount of time pressure an individual faces and the amount of expectations others have of a person at work can all lead to job stress. Interpersonal relationships are a second source of job stress. How much contact an individual has with coworkers and managers, how much time he or she deals with clients or consumers, and how pleasant those interactions are all influences of how much stress an individual experiences at work. Third source is problems in personal lives, which can spill over into the work environment, adding further tension to an already stressful work situation.

Job stress factors

Determinants of Job Stress

Job Characteristics

A major source of job stress is a person’s role in the organization. A role is simply the set of expectations that other people in the organization have for an individual, For example, supervisors, coworkers, customers and suppliers expect an employee to behave in certain predictable ways. The expectations others have of an employee are sometimes unclear, in conflict, or too high for the employee to meet within the time allotted, and he or she experiences stress.

  • Role Ambiguity: When there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding job definitions or job expectations, people experience role ambiguity. With the recent increase in mergers and acquisitions among major organizations, more and more employees arc experiencing job stress as a result of role ambiguity. Role ambiguity is anxiety arousing among employees that leads to job stress.
  • Role Conflict: Often employees discover that different groups of people in an organization have widely varying expectations of them, and that they cannot meet all those expectations. This inconsistency of expectations associated with a role is called role conflict, which results in stress.
  • Role Overload: Role overload is a situation in which employees feel they are being asked to do more than time or ability permits. Working under time pressure is especially stressful.
  • Role Under-load: Role Under-load is the condition in which employees have too little work to do or too little variety -in their work. For example, salespeople in a store with no customer, standing around all day with nothing to do, could be said to experience role under-load. Ironically, role under-load leads to low self-esteem, increased frequency of nervous symptoms and increased health problems.
  • Ethical Dilemmas: Ethical dilemmas such as whether or not one should report the observed unethical behaviors of another person can cause extreme levels of stress in individuals. This will be especially true for those who have strong moral values of right and wrong and a deep sense of personal and corporate social responsibility. Tensions arise because one might have to contend against one’s own colleagues who might be close friends, and may fear of reprisal and other undesirable consequences.

Interpersonal Relationships

Another major source of stress in organization is poor interpersonal relationships with supervisors, subordinates, coworkers. or clients. When interpersonal relationships at work are unpleasant, employees develop a generalized anxiety, a diffuse feeling of dread about upcoming meetings and interactions. Three aspects of interpersonal relationships at work, which have a negative impact on job stress, are as follows:

  • Amount of contact with others: Jobs vary in terms of how much interpersonal contact is built into them. Too much prolonged contact with other people can cause stress.
  • Amount of contact with people in other departments: Having contacts with people outside one’s own department creates a special sort of stress. People in other departments do not always have an adequate understanding of jobs outside their own areas, which can cause stress.
  • Organizational climate: The overall psychological climate of the organization can create stress. When day-to-day life in an organization is marked by unfriendly, distant, or hostile exchanges, employees are continually tense and this causes stress.

Organizational Factors

Following are the organizational factors that cause stress in individuals:

  • Work environment factors such as noise, heal, poor lighting, radiation and smoke are stress-inducing agents.
  • Insufficient resources such as time, budget, raw materials, space or manpower also induce stress in the work environment. When one has to produce and perform with inadequate resources on a long-term basis, this naturally imposes stresses and strains on the individuals who are responsible for getting the job done.
  • Structural factors in the organizational setting such as staff rules and regulations and reward systems, may cause stress.
  • Lack of career promotion in organizations may be sometime cause stress.
  • Environmental factors of stress include sudden and unanticipated changes in the marketplace, technology, the financial market and so on.

Personal Factors

Employees’ personal lives have a marked effect on their lives at work. If things are going well personally, they are more likely to be upbeat and optimistic. They have more energy and patience for dealing with problems at work. On the other hand, if employees are having some personal problems, they might be more tense or distracted when they go to work.

Factors that influence how much stress people bring from their personal lives to the work setting are as follows:

  • Career Concerns: One major career concern that can cause stress is lack of job security. A second career concern that can cause employees stress is status incongruity, i.e., having jobs with less status, power and prestige than they think they deserve.
  • Geographical Mobility: Geographical moves create stress because they disrupt the routines of daily life. When geographical moves are undertaken as part of a job transfer, the moves can be even more stressful. The transferred employees are likely to feel out of control at work, too, and experience their new work environments as unpredictable.

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