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10/24/2016

Causesofworkrelatedstress::UniversityofCambridge

Causesofworkrelatedstress
ResearchcommissionedbytheHealthandSafetyExecutivehasindicatedthat:
abouthalfamillionpeopleintheUKexperienceworkrelatedstressataleveltheybelieveismakingthemill
upto5millionpeopleintheUKfeelveryorextremelystressedbytheirwork
stressrelatedillnessisresponsibleforthelossof6.5millionworkingdayseachyear
costssocietyabout3.7billioneveryyear(at1995/6prices)(CartwrightandCooper2002)
In2001,theHigherEducationFundingCouncilofEngland(HEFCE)(http://www.hefce.ac.uk/)providedfundstotheUniversityof
PlymouthforathreeyearnationwidestudyofoccupationalstressinUKHigherEducationInstitutions(HEIs).Theprimaryaimofthis
studywastoprovidestressbenchmarksforHigherEducation,toenablecomparisonswithotherprofessionsandintrasector
comparisonswithcognateHEIs(i.e.oldversusnewuniversities)(Tytherleigh,Webb,CooperandRicketts2005).Themaincauses
ofstressidentifiedinallHEI'swere:
longhours
jobsecurity,particularlyinrelationtotermsofemploymentandstresslevels
workrelationships
resourcesandcommunications
Theseissuesareexploredinmoredetailbelow.

Workrelatedstressors
Overload
Thisistheextenttowhichindividualsfeelthatthedemandsoftheirworkloadandtheassociatedtimepressuresareasourceof
pressure,forexample:
unrealisticdeadlinesandexpectations,oftenasaresultofsuperachievementbythemosttalented
technologyoverload
unmanageableworkloads
underrecruitmentofstaffforworkalreadytimetabled

Control
Theexperienceofpressureisstronglylinkedtoperceptionsofcontrol.Lackofinfluenceandconsultationinthewayinwhichworkis
organizedandperformedcanbeapotentialsourceofpressure,forexample:
lackofcontroloveraspectsofthejob
lackofinvolvementindecisionmaking
accountnottakenofstaffideas/suggestionsaboutthejob
lackofinfluenceoverperformancetargets
lackoftime

Workrelationships
Manyjobsdemandregularcontactwithotherpeopleatwork.Poororunsupportiverelationshipswithcolleaguesand/orsupervisors
canbeapotentialsourceofpressure.Inaddition,pressurecanoccurifindividualsfeelisolatedorunfairlytreated.
Poorworkrelationshipscanbearesultof:
aggressivemanagementstyle
lackofsupportfromothers
isolationatwork
aversivebehaviour,e.g.bullyingandharassment
lackofunderstandingandleadership
managerforeverfindingfault
othersnotpullingtheirweight
http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/offices/hr/policy/stress/causes.html

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10/24/2016

Causesofworkrelatedstress::UniversityofCambridge

otherstakecreditforpersonalachievements
poorrelationshipswithcolleagues

Jobsecurity
Thisistheextenttowhichlackofjobsecurityandjobchangesareasourceofpressure,forexample:
jobinsecurity
lackofjobpermanence,e.g.temporary/fixedtermcontracts
futurejobchange
fearofskillredundancy

Worklifebalance
Thedemandsofworkhavethepotentialtospilloverandaffectpersonalandhomelifeandsoputastrainonrelationshipsoutside
work,forexample:
longhours:beingexpectedtoorhavingtoworkadditionalhoursathometothedetrimentofpersonal,partnerandfamily
relationships
overdemandingandinflexibleworkschedules
unsocialhours
excessivetraveltime
workinterferingwithhome/personallife

Resourcesandcommunication
Toperformajobeffectively,individualsneedtofeelthattheyhaveappropriatetraining,equipmentandresources.Theyalsoneedto
feelthattheyareadequatelyinformedandthattheyarevalued.Stressmayresultfromlackof:
informationaboutwhatisgoingonintheorganisation
feedbackonperformance
adequatetrainingtodothejob
equipment/resourcestodothejob

Paysandbenefits
Thefinancialrewardsassociatedwithajobareimportantintermsoflifestyle.Theyarealsooftenperceivedtobeanindicationofan
individual'sworthandvaluetotheorganisation.Althoughfinancialrewardmaynotbeaprimemotivator,itcouldbecomeafactorif
thereareothernegativeaspectsofthejob.

Aspectsofthejob
Thesearepotentialsourcesofstressthatrelatetothefundamentalnatureofthejobitself.Factorssuchasthephysicalworking
conditions,typeoftasksandtheamountofsatisfactionderivedfromthejob.
jobisunlikelytochangeinthenext510years
poorphysicalworkingconditions
fearofphysicalviolence
workperformancecloselymonitored
organisationchangesforchange'ssake
dullandrepetitivework
dealingwithdifficultcustomers/clients
lackofenjoymentofjob

References
1.Cartwright,SandCooperC.L.(2002).ASSET:AnOrganisationalStressScreeningToolTheManagementGuide.
Manchester,RCLLtd.
2.Tytherleigh,M.Y.,Webb.C.,Cooper,C.L.andRicketts,C.(2005).OccupationalstressinUKHigherEducationInstitutions:a
comparativestudyofallstaffcategories.HigherEducationResearch&Development,Vol24:1,pp4161.
Managementstandards[HSE](http://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/standards/)
EvaluatingriskusingtheHSEmanagementstandards(evaluating.html)

2014UniversityofCambridge,TheOldSchools,TrinityLane,CambridgeCB21TN,29November2011

http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/offices/hr/policy/stress/causes.html

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