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Chapter 7. Workplace Stress. Knowledge Objectives. Define stress and distinguish among different types of stress. Understand how the human body reacts to stress, especially the signs of suffering from too much stress.

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knowledge objectives
Knowledge Objectives
  • Define stress and distinguish among different types of stress.
  • Understand how the human body reacts to stress, especially the signs of suffering from too much stress.
  • Describe the demand-control model of workplace stress and discuss the most common workplace stressors.
  • Recognize how people experience and manage stress.
knowledge objectives3
Knowledge Objectives
  • Explain the individual and organizational consequences of stress.
  • Discuss methods that associates and organizations can use to manage stress.
  • Understand the impact of effective stress prevention and management on organizational performance.
workplace stress defined
Workplace Stress Defined
  • Stress
    • A feeling of tension that occurs when a person assesses that a given situation is about to exceed his or her ability to cope and consequently will endanger his or her well-being.
  • Job stress
    • The feeling that one’s capabilities, resources, or needs do not match the demands of the job.
important considerations stress
Important Considerations: Stress
  • The level of stress experienced depends on individual reactions to a situation
  • The source of stress, or stressor, can be either real or imagined.
source and persistence of stress
Source and Persistence of Stress

Source and Persistence of Stress

Source of Stress Definition

Emotional stress Stress that results when people consider situations difficult or impossible to deal with.

Physiological stress The body’s reaction to certain physical stressors.

Persistence of Stress Definition

Acute stress A short-term stress reaction to an immediate threat.

Chronic stress A long-term stress reaction resulting from ongoing situations

stress model

Stress response


Body’s energy supply

Stress Model

Restores balance

Creates imbalance

stress related conditions

Exhibit 7-1

Some Stress-Related Conditions

Stress-Related Conditions

Conditions that can result from acute stress

Feelings of uneasiness and worry

Feelings of sadness

Loss of appetite

Alertness and excitement

Increase in energy

Short-term suppression of the immune system

Increased metabolism and burning of body fat

Adapted from Exhibit 7-1: Some Stress-Related Conditions

stress related conditions9
Stress-Related Conditions

Exhibit 7-1

Some Stress-Related Conditions

Conditions that can result from chronic stress

Anxiety and panic attacks


Long-term disturbances in eating (anorexia or overeating)


Lowered resistance to infection and disease


High blood pressure

Loss of sex drive

Adapted from Exhibit 7-1: Some Stress-Related Conditions

stress levels

Positive stress

Meeting challenges and difficulties

Expectation of achievement

Energizing and motivating


Negative stress

Physiological and psychological problems

Feel irritable

Sleeping difficulties

No joy out of life

Appetite is disturbed

Relationship problems

Stress Levels
demand control model of workplace stress




Low Strain

Job Control

High Strain






Job Demands

Demand-Control Model of Workplace Stress

Adapted from Exhibit 7-2: The Demand-Control Model of Workplace Stress

life event stressors

Yes! The “most stressful” life event is:

Yes! The “least stressful” life event is:

Life Event Stressors
  • Which of the following “Life Events” is the top-ranked stress event (most stressful)?
  • Which is the least stressful event?
  • Change in recreation
  • Taking on a small mortgage or debt
  • Change in living conditions
  • Trouble with your boss
  • Change in residence
  • Personal injury or illness
  • Major business readjustment
  • Child leaving home
  • Fired from job or laid off
  • Change in financial state
  • Jail term
  • Death of a spouse or life partner
  • Pregnancy
  • Sex difficulties
  • Change in church activities
  • Minor violations of the law
organizational and work related stressors
Organizational and Work-Related Stressors
  • Stressors
    • Environmental conditions that cause individuals to experience stress
  • Occupation
  • Work overload
  • Role conflict
  • Role ambiguity
  • Resource inadequacy
  • Working conditions
  • Management style
  • Monitoring
  • Job insecurity
the art of compassionate management
The Art of Compassionate Management
  • Read your own and others’ emotional cues and understand the impact such cues have on others
  • Keep people connected
  • Empathize with those who are in pain
  • Act to alleviate the suffering of others
  • Mobilize people to deal with their pain
  • Create an environment where compassionate behavior toward others is encouraged and rewarded
individual influences on experiencing stress
Individual Influences on Experiencing Stress
  • Type A vs. Type B Personality
    • Type A
      • Competitiveness
      • Aggressiveness
      • Impatience
      • Increase their own volume of work overload
  • Self-esteem
    • People with high self-esteem
      • Experience greater well-being
      • More resistant to the effects of stressors
      • More likely to engage in active coping behaviors when stressed
individual influences on experiencing stress16
Individual Influences on Experiencing Stress
  • Hardiness
    • Persons high in hardiness tend to
      • Have strong internal commitment to their activities
      • Have an internal locus of control
      • Seek challenge in everyday life
      • Experience less sever negative stress reactions
  • Gender
    • Women are generally
      • Lower-paid
      • More likely to experience discrimination, stereotyping and work-family conflict
      • More likely to work in stressful service industries
      • Experience more work-related stress than men
individual consequences of stress





Individual Consequences of Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Sleeplessness
  • Frustration
  • Family problems
  • Burnout
  • High blood pressure
  • Muscle tension
  • Headaches
  • Ulcers skin diseases
  • Impaired immune systems
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Excessive smoking
  • Substance abuse
  • Accident proneness
  • Appetite disorders
  • Violence
organizational consequences of stress

Exhibit 7-3

Managerial Costs of Job Stress

Organizational Consequences of Stress

Job stress has been estimated to cost American industry $150 billion per year due to:


Diminished productivity

Compensation claims

Health insurance

Direct medical expenses

To put this figure into perspective, consider the following:

This is 15 times the cost of all strikes combined

The U.S. gross domestic product (the market value of the nation’s goods and services) was approximately $10,794 billion in 2003

Total U.S. corporate profits after taxes was $452.9 billion in 2002

500 million workdays are lost each year due to illness and disability

93 million workdays are lost due to associates’ back problems

23 million workdays are lost due to associates’ cardiovascular problems

Adapted from Exhibit 7-3: Managerial Costs of Job Stress

individual stress management

Exhibit 7-4

What You Can Do to Manage Stress

Individual Stress Management

Exercise regularly. Twenty to 30 minutes of exercise per day benefits you physically and mentally.

Practice healthy habits. Get enough sleep. Eat a healthy diet. Avoid tobacco, caffeine, alcohol, and other drugs.

Be realistic. Understand your limits and be willing to say “no!”

Use systematic relaxation. Meditate. Engage in breathing exercises. Sit quietly and think of only pleasant things. Ten to 20 minutes of reflection can raise your resistance to chronic stress.

Develop and use planning skills. Planning can help you avoid stressors and figure out ways to cope with those you do encounter.

Simplify your life. Delegate. Get organized. Drop unnecessary and unpleasant activities.

Take one thing at a time. Avoid unnecessary overload. Don’t take work problems home. Don’t take home problems to work.

Adapted from Exhibit 7-4: What You Can Do to Manage Stress

individual stress management20
Individual Stress Management

Exhibit 7-4

What You Can Do to Manage Stress

Avoid unnecessary competition. No one is always the best. Give in occasionally.

Recognize and accept personal limits. Drop the urge to be “superman” or “superwoman.” No one is perfect.

Develop social support networks. Research consistently shows that social support helps mitigate the effects of stress. Don’t try to cope alone.

Focus on enjoying what you do. Laugh!

Go easy with criticism. Go easy on yourself and others. Look for the positive. Research from the Mayo Clinic suggests that people with a positive outlook on life are healthier and live longer than those with a negative outlook.

Take time off. Go on vacation. Spend time everyday doing something you enjoy.

Adapted from Exhibit 7-4: What You Can Do to Manage Stress

organizational stress management
Organizational Stress Management

What Organizations Can Do to Manage Stress

Increase associates’ autonomy and control. According to the demand-control model, increased control should help associates cope with increased demands.

Ensure that associates have adequate skills to keep up-to-date with technical changes in the workplace.

Increase associate involvement in decision making. This is also a critical feature of the high-involvement workplace.

Increase the levels of social support available to associates. Encourage compassionate management, as discussed in the earlier Managerial Advice feature. Provide opportunities for social interaction among associates.

Improve physical working conditions. For example, use ergonomically sound equipment and tools.

Provide for job security and career development. Provide educational opportunities so that associates can continue to improve their skill sets. Use job redesign and job rotation to expand associates’ skill sets.

organizational stress management22
Organizational Stress Management

What Organizations Can Do to Manage Stress

Design jobs so that they are meaningful and stimulating.

Provide healthy work schedules. Avoid constant shifting of schedules. Allow for flex-time or other alternative work schedules.

Maintain job demands at healthy levels. For example, reduce overtime, reduce caseloads, and introduce changes carefully.

Improve communication to help avoid uncertainty and ambiguity.

Develop an occupational stress committee to assess the sources of stress facing associates.

Adapted from Exhibit 7-4: What You Can Do to Manage Stress