What is Stress:
Stress these days is a major cause of harming the employees’ health and performance. Stress means tension or pressure any individual feels in life. Stress is an unavoidable feature of human life. Every individual have needs and demands that create pressure or stress in life. Beyond some level stress can result in some physiological and psychological problems and it would affect his performance. Stress is result of reaction by body to any demand or change in living environment.
The non-specific response of the body to any demand made upon it. – Selye
In the words of R.S Schuler stress is “A dynamic condition in which an individual is confronted with an opportunity, constraint or demand related to what he desires and for which the outcome is perceived to the both uncertain and important.”
Stress is always considered as negative aspect but it has positive side too. Sometimes under pressure people give his best to get maximum output. This positive stress that gives achievement is known as Eustress. The negative side that gives feeling of insecurity or helplessness is known as Distress.
Sources of stress:
There are two categories of potential sources of stress.
These are the factors that are related to workplace.
Job demands: These stressors are the associated with the tasks, activities or conditions related to a specific job that a person does. Some occupations are stressful by nature than others. For example a job of air traffic controller is more stressful than the job of airplane baggage loader. Other than task reasons of stress are working conditions, work environment or work itself. There are various jobs that are associated with unhealthy conditions like coal mining. Security of job is another aspect that can cause stress.
Role demands: In various organisations there are many job positions that may have role conflict, role ambiguity, responsibility and other many things are sources of stress. Role conflict means when a person has to do the things that he does not want to do. Role ambiguity refers to the lack of clarity of role or when a person is given two or more roles at a time. Responsibility towards other people to provide them equipment and other resources can also put stress on the employee. Other stressors are lack of recognition and high demand of performance standards.
Interpersonal relations: Interpersonal relationship with people at home is also potential source of stress at workplace. If an individual has good relationship with manager, subordinates and peers, it can increase the stress rate. Absence of social support from the colleagues during difficult times also generates the stress. Organisation climate: Work culture and climate is another source of stress. Lack of feeling of belongingness, restrictions on behavior and participation in decision making are the major reasons of stressors. The other reasons are threat to autonomy, freedom and personal identity.
Management style: Managers that are task oriented exert more pressure than managers that are people oriented. Sometimes employee need social and psychological support from leaders or managers and manager shows less concern then it may cause stress. Autocratic managers that do not consult employees in decision making and exert pressure regarding high performance also results in stress.
Individual stressors are those that are at the personal level of an individual. These are discussed below.
Career development: It involves the stress related to need of advancement in career. High status demand and lack of job security, frustration caused due to late or under promotion also causes stress.
Life Changes: During life cycle an individual faces many changes and these changes can cause stress in person’s life. These events include marriage, divorce, death of any close relative and result in stress. Various other reasons are family problems, health issues and low economic status are the major stressors. As a person becomes older, it increases his responsibilities towards himself as well as others increase. These life changes play a major role in increasing stress.
Personality of a Person: The level of stress is also assessed by the personality of a person. In respect of personality the difference between ‘TYPE A’ and ‘TYPE B’ behavior patterns become significant. TYPE A personalities may generate stress in their work situations due to their success orientation, anxiety and perfectionism. They have more aggressive and competitive attitude. TYPE B personality; on the other hand, is less stress prone. They have fewer desires in life and they live for fun and relaxation. They do not feel time pressure and are never in hurry.
Stress is unavoidable aspect in human life. Coping up with stress is necessary so that it cannot affect the performance of the employee. Strategies to fight with organisational and individual stressors are as follows.
Coping strategies at organizational level:
Role clarity: Many job positions have role ambiguity or role conflict as people don’t know what they are the expectations from them. It can cause stress in the employees. Such situations can be dealt by the process of role analysis and by making clarity about the roles of an individual in the organization. Dividing a job in various tasks it involves and assigning them to the employees carefully can resolve the issue. It will eliminate unrealistic expectations and will reduce the stress.
Job Redesign: Job itself is a prime source of stress. Jobs should be properly designed along with the work schedule so that it may not put pressure on employee and does not cause any stress.
Stress management programs: These programs focus on finding various relevant job stressors and reduce their effect by some proper planning. Reallocating the work loads, training to improve the skills, providing autonomy and freedom are some of the methods that can reduce the stress.
Personal welfare: Some programs are specifically created for the personal well being of the employees in the organization referred as collateral programs. These programs include career development programs, personal health improvement programs and other stress management programs to reduce the stress level of the employees.
Supportive management: Faulty management policies and practices of organizations are the important stressors that are to be taken care of. It can hamper the performance of the employees and can increase anxiety in employees. Making work environment congenial for working, supportive management style and involvement of employees in decision making can help to reduce the stress of workers.
Counseling: It is the process of discussion about problem by a counselor with employees. It can help to relieve the stress of people at workplace and can improve the mental health of the employee. Sharing the problems can remove the frustration and get rid of stress.
Management of individual stressors
Proper Break Time: People should take proper rest and should relax for reducing stress level. Rest after regular interval during the job also helps to release pressure and anxiety. Going on vacations is also a way to relax. It can enhance the performance also. Taking rest during normal working day is recommended for coping up with stress.
Time management: Time management is another technique that can be used to reduce stress. One popular approach for time management is to list down the tasks to done in the day. These task should be arranged according to importance and time needed to complete the task. This strategy helps to get more of the important things done during the day.
Role management: An individual should get clarification from the supervisor if has a role conflict or role ambiguity problem. He should know what is expected from him at work place. It will help in reducing the stress. If anyone is capable of doing extra work only then he should accept it otherwise it would result in generation of stress.
Exercise and Meditation: Another important way to get rid of stress is doing proper exercise and meditation in regular manner. It can give temporary relief in starting and helps in long term if done regularly. It gives rest to body and mind simultaneously.