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Stress in the Workplace

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  1. Stress in the Workplace

  2. Stress in the Workplace BATs AO1 -Outline the range of sources of workplace stress. AO2/3 - Describe and evaluate research into the workplace as a source of stress- e.g. Johansson, Marmot AO3 - Discuss the ethical and methodological issues relating to Marmot’s study - Outline and evaluate and implications of Marmot’s work - Understand the principles behind managing stress in the workplace

  3. Sources of Stress: Work • Around 500,000 UK workers believe work stress is making them ill • 5,000,000 million UK workers feel ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ stressed by their job • Approximately 12,800,000 working days were lost in the UK last year due to stress, anxiety and depression Source: HSE

  4. Why is work stressful? • Take 2 minutes to discuss aspects of work that are stressful (workplace stressors)

  5. Sources of Work Stress • Demands • Having more to do than you can manage, or so little you get bored. • Control • Having no control over your work rate or content; not being able to set your own priorities • Role • Having to fulfill incompatible roles during work or having a work role that clashes with other roles e.g. family • Physical stressors – noise, length of working day, dangerous situations, temperature, amount of light • Psychosocial stressors –relationships with co-workers.

  6. Workplace Stressors 1. Work Environment Noise – can affect concentration Temperature – the hotter we are the more likely we are to be aggressive, leading to frustration and stress Are all jobs in hot places stressful!!

  7. The Job Strain Model Demand of job Amount of control

  8. Control at Work • Marmot et al (1997) • Longitudinal study of 7300 civil servants • Five year study assessing job control (work grade) and CHD symptoms (self report) • Lower grade (less control) associated with higher risk of CHD symptoms (1.5 to 2.3x inflated risk) • NB: correlational data; restricted sample

  9. Star Study – Marmot et al., 1997 Aim – To test the job-strain model – workplace creates stress and illness in 2 ways: high demand and low control e.g civil servants – high grades experience high job demand, lower grades have low job control Procedures – 7,372 civil servants in London answered a questionnaire and checked for signs of cardiovascular disease. Reassessed after 5 years -info recorded: signs of ischemia or chest pains, coronary risk factors e.g. smoking, employment grade (measure of job demand), sense of job control (questionnaire) , amount of social support (questionnaire) Fill in the study sheet as you go

  10. Star Study – Marmot et al., 1997 Findings – Higher grade workers- developed fewest cardiovascular problems. Lower grade workers – weaker sense of job control and poorest social support Cardiovascular disease could be partly explained in terms of risk factors ( people who developed cardiovascular disease were more likely to be smokers and be overweight) Conclusion – Lower control linked to higher stress and cardiovascular disorder. High job demand not linked to stress and illness. So does not fully support job-strain model. Fill in the study sheet as you go

  11. Strengths Marmot et al argue that other studies show that lack of control does increase stress: See next slide Weaknesses Are the findings more to do with socio-economic status? Low SES more likely to smoke, live in more stressful environments and have poorer diets which are linked to cardiovascular problems. Biased sample: Civil servants may not be typical as they live in cities, more job oriented and ambitious. Rural inhabitants’ jobs may play less significance in their lives. Caplan (1975) – ambitious people more affected by workplace stressors – more affected by low control Star Study –Marmot et al., 1997- Criticisms Fill in the study sheet as you go

  12. Ethical Issues in Marmot’s study • In groups discuss the ethical issues related to Marmot’s Whitehall II study • Psychological harm – may think something bad will happen to them when find results • Confidentiality – Must be keptanonymous, bosses should not know how workers responded • Privacy– giving away personal info

  13. Discuss the Ethical and Methodological issues relating to Marmot’s study (AO3) Use the worksheet to help you outline and evaluate the ethical and methodological issues relating to Marmot’s study . This could be used to answer a question!

  14. Control at Work • Johanssen et al (1978) • Compared two groups of workers: • Finishers: machine-paced, repetitive • Cleaners: self-paced, varied • Finishers secreted higher levels of stress hormones, had higher levels of illness and absenteeism • Van der Doef & Maes (1998) • High demands + low control leads to greatest risk of heart disease

  15. Work Stress • Work stress seems to be related to ill-health • However, many studies have not considered: • Specific aspects of jobs that make them stressful • Individual differences in stress responses www.psychlotron.org.uk

  16. Other Research on workplace stressors Lack of control: Schaubroeck et al (2001): Found some workers react differently and actually are less stressed by having no control or responsibility – tested saliva to see how immune system is working. Some had high immune responses in low control situations. Some feel that –ve work outcomes are their fault. In such cases control can make the unhealthy effects of stress worse. Role conflict and role ambiguity: Kahn et al (1964) – surveyed workers and found 35% not clear about their job responsibilities and what they actually had to do

  17. Other Research on workplace stressors Length of Working Day – Sparks et al (97) and Kageyama et al (98) Hair et al (2007) – emails at work Use p 144 in your text book to find out what these studies found out. 5 mins

  18. Evaluation of research into workplace stressors • Research has shown that as other cultures (e.g. Eastern Europe, Asia) adopt working practices of the West a similar relationship between lack of control and stress related illness is emerging. • Individual differences - Personality was not controlled in the studies. Certain personalities may be attracted to stressful jobs, which causes health problems. (see next week!)

  19. Apply your knowledge! • Tom shares an office with John, a young new employee. John regularly listens to music and talks to mates and colleagues on the phone. • Identify one workplace factor that might affect Tom. (1 mark) • Explain why the factor you have identified might lead to Tom experiencing stress (3 marks) see next slide for EXTENSION WORK

  20. Implications of Workplace Stress Research • Cost of workplace stress leads to lower productivity and excessive absenteeism, as well as early loss of key workers who develop stress-related health problems. • What implications do you think the research may have had on improving the situation? EXTENSION WORK

  21. Work Stress – HSE Case Studies • Read the HSE case study leaflets. Write a brief summary of each explaining: • What was the problem? • How did this affect the workers? • What changes were made? • How well did these changes work? http://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/experience.htm

  22. Plenary • How much have you understood about Stressors in the workplace? • Describe 2 ways in which the workplace can be a source of stress? (6) • Outline the conclusions of 2 pieces of research into the effect of workplace stressors. (3 + 3) Homework: Outline and evaluate the contribution of two or more factors to stress in the workplace. (12 marks)

  23. Other Research on workplace stressors Environmental factors Physical stressors – (noise, heat, poor lighting and overcrowding) make work more difficult and more energy has to be expended to overcome them. The increased arousal can lead to frustration and a number of studies have shown that increased noise and heat can lead to stress and aggression. Glass et al (1969) – 60 students given cognitive tests in one of 5 different conditions – loud or soft noise that was either predictable, random or no noise. Stress measured using Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) Later given puzzles (2 impossible, to increase frustration). Highest stress in random noise, then predictable and lowest in no noise. Conclusion – noise creates stress especially when random/unpredictable which needs constant attention.