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Index

CausesandCuresofStressinOrganizations
1993,DavidS.Walonick,Ph.D.
Jobstressinorganizationsiswidespread.AbouthalfofallAmericanworkers
feelthepressuresofjobrelatedstress.Extensiveresearchshowsthat
excessivejobstresscanadverselyaffecttheemotionalandphysicalhealth
ofworkers.Theresultisdecreasedproductivity,lesssatisfied,andless
healthyworkers.Thispaperwillfirstdiscussthesymptomsandcausesof
stress,andthenexplorewaysinwhichmanagersmightreducestressin
themselvesandtheirsubordinates.
DefinitionofStress
Stressisanimpreciseterm.Itisusuallydefinedintermsoftheinternaland
externalconditionsthatcreatestressfulsituations,andthesymptomsthat
peopleexperiencewhentheyarestressed.McGrath(1976)proposeda
definitionbasedontheconditionsnecessaryforstress.
Sothereisapotentialforstresswhenanenvironmental
situationisperceivedaspresentingademandthatthreatensto
exceedtheperson'scapabilitiesandresourcesformeetingit,
underconditionswhereheexpectsasubstantialdifferentialin
therewardsandcostsfrommeetingthedemandversusnot
meetingit.(p.1,352)
McGrath'sdefinitionimpliesthatthedegreeofstressiscorrelatedwitha
personsperceivedinabilitytodealwithanenvironmentaldemand.Thiswould
leadtotheconclusionthataperson'slevelofstressdependsontheirself
perceivedabilitiesandselfconfidence.Stressiscorrelatedwithaperson's
fearoffailure.
ArnoldandFeldman(1986)definestressas"thereactionsofindividualsto
neworthreateningfactorsintheirworkenvironment."(p.459)Sinceourwork
environmentsoftencontainnewsituations,thisdefinitionsuggeststhat
stressininevitable.Thisdefinitionalsohighlightsthefactthatreactionsto
stressfulsituationsareindividualized,andcanresultinemotional,perceptual,
behavioral,andphysiologicalchanges.
WilliamsandHuber(1986)definestressas"apsychologicalandphysical
reactiontoprolongedinternaland/orenvironmentalconditionsinwhichand
individual'sadaptivecapabilitiesareoverextended."(p.243)Theyarguethat
stressisanadaptiveresponsetoaconsciousorunconsciousthreat.Like
McGrath,theypointoutthatstressisaresultofa"perceived"threat,andis
notnecessarilyrelatedtoactualenvironmentalconditions.Theamountof
stressthatisproducedbyagivensituationdependsuponone'sperceptionof
thesituation,notthesituationitself.Inotherwords,stressisarelativistic
phenomena.
InGestaltTherapyVerbatim(RealPeoplePress,1969)Perlsproposesa
moregeneraldefinition,wherestressisamanifestationofthinkingaboutthe
future.Anxietyiscreatedbyfocusingattentionawayfromthe"hereand
now".Itiscreatedbyexpectationsofthefuturethetensionbetweenthenow
andthelater.AccordingtoPerls,thereisnodifferencebetweengoodstress
andbadstress.Theyarebothcreatedbythinkingaboutthefuture.When
anxietyfindsanoutlet,wesaythatthestresswasmotivatingwhenit
doesn't,wecallitdebilitating.
French,Kast,andRosenzweig(1985)alsoemphasizedtheideathatstress

itselfisnotnecessarilybad."Thetermstresscanbeconsideredneutralwith
thewordsdistressandeustressusedfordesignatingbadandgoodeffects."
(p.707)Theyproposeamodelthatdefinesanoptimumrangeofstressin
termsofitseffectonperformance.Stresslevelsthatexceedanoptimum
levelresultindecreasedperformanceandeventualburnout.Stresslevels
belowaminimumlevelresultindecreasedperformanceand"rustout".
SymptomsofStress
Selye(1946)wasthefirsttodescribethephasesthatthebodygoesthrough
inresponsetoathreat.Thegeneraladaptationsyndromemodelstatesthat
thebodypassesthroughthreestages.Thefirststageisanalarmreaction.
Thebodypreparesforapotentialemergency.Digestionslowsdown,the
heartbeatsfaster,bloodvesselsdilate,bloodpressurerises,andbreathing
becomesrapidanddeep.Allbodilysystemsworktogethertoprovide
maximumenergyforfightorflight.Thesecondstageisresistance.Ifthe
stresscontinues,thebodybuildsupatolerancetoitseffects.Thebody
becomeshabituatedtotheeffectsofthestressor,however,thebodies
adaptiveenergiesarebeingusedasashieldagainstthestressor.Thethird
stageisexhaustion.Whenthebody'sadaptiveenergiesaredepleted,the
symptomsofthealarmreactionreappear,andthestressmanifestsitselfas
anillness,suchasulcers,heartailments,andhighbloodpressure.During
thefirstorsecondstages,theremovalofthestressorwilleliminatethe
symptoms.
IvancevichandMatteson(1980)pointoutthatduringtheearlydaysofour
evolution,weneededthefightorflightresponseforoursurvival."The
problemweencountertodayisthatthehumannervoussystemstillresponds
thesamewaytoenvironmentalstressors,althoughtheenvironmentis
radicallydifferent.Thetigersaregoneandwiththemtheappropriatenessof
thefightorflightresponse."(p.10)
Reitz(1987)writesthatindividualsinmodernsocietyoftensubstituteother
psychologicalreactionsforflightorflight.Substitutionsforfightinginclude
negativism,expressionofboredom,dissatisfaction,irritability,angerover
unimportantmatters,andfeelingsofpersecution.Substitutionsforfleeing
includeapathy,resignation,fantasy,forgetfulness,inabilitytoconcentrate,
procrastination,andinabilitytomakedecisions.(p.239)
Shorttermstresshasservedausefulpurposeinoursurvival.Longterm
stress,however,involvesincreasinglyhigherlevelsofprolongedand
uninterruptedstress.Thebodyadaptstothestressbygraduallyadjustingits
baselinetohigherandhigherlevels.Forexample,workersinstressfuljobs
oftenshowanincreased"resting"heartrate.Pelletier(1977)believesthatthe
deleteriouseffectsofstressarecreatedonlybyunrelievedlongtermstress.
Albrecht(1979)alsobelievesthattheeffectsofstressarecumulativein
nature.Ulcersdonotjusthappenovernightinahighstresssituationtheyare
generallytheresultoflongextendedexposuretostress."Thehealth
breakdownissimplythelogicalconclusionofaselfinduceddisease
developmentoveraperiodof10to20years."(p.119)
Jobstresscanhaveasubstantialnegativeeffectonphysicalandemotional
health.WilliamsandHuber(1986)provideacomprehensivelistofthe
symptomsofstress.Theseare:"constantfatigue,lowenergylevel,recurring
headaches,gastrointestinaldisorders,chronicallybadbreath,sweatyhands
orfeet,dizziness,highbloodpressure,poundingheart,constantinner
tension,inabilitytosleep,temperoutbursts,hyperventilation,moodiness,
irritabilityandrestlessness,inabilitytoconcentrate,increasedaggression,
compulsiveeating,chronicworrying,anxietyorapprehensiveness,inabilityto
relax,growingfeelingsofinadequacy,increaseindefensiveness,
dependenceontranquilizers,excessiveuseofalcohol,andexcessive
smoking."(p.246)Furthermore,jobstresscanmakepeoplemore
susceptibletomajorillnesses.Highstressmanagersaretwiceasproneto
heartattacksaslowstressmanagers.(RosenmanandFriedman,1971)

Excessivejobrelatedstressisnotasmallorisolatedproblem.Overone
thirdofallAmericanworkersthoughtaboutquittingtheirjobsin1990.One
thirdbelievetheywillburnoutinthenearfuture,andonethirdfeelthatjob
stressisthesinglegreatestsourceofstressintheirlives.Nearlythree
fourthsofallworkersfeelthatjobstresslowerstheirproductivity,andthey
experiencehealthproblemsasaconsequence.(Lawless,1991,1992)
Furthermore,thisisnotexclusivelyaUnitedStatesphenomena.AJapanese
pollconductedbytheHealthandWelfareMinistryin1988indicatedthat45
percentofworkersfeltstressfromtheirjobs.(AsahiNewsService,1990)
Recentstudieshavefoundevidenceofdangerousphysicalchanges
attributedtoprolongedstress.OneNewYorkstudyreportedatwentygram
increaseinheartmusclesofthosesufferingfromjobstress.Therewasa
significant"thickeningoftheheart'sleftventricle,orchamber,acondition
thatoftenprecedescoronaryheartdiseaseandheartattacks."(Pieper,C.,
1990)Omnimagazine(March,1991)wroteaboutaseriesofexperimentswith
ratstoexaminethephysiologicaleffectsofprolongedstress.The
researchersfoundthattherewasactuallyalossofneuronsinthe
hippocampussectionoftheirbrains.Thearticleconcludedwithawarningthat
thereissomeevidenceofasimilarneuronlossoccursinhumans.
Manyresearchershavestudiedtheeffectsofstressonperformance.
McGrath(1978)reportedthatmildtomoderateamountsofstressenables
peopletoperformsometasksmoreeffectively.Therationaleisthatimproved
performancecanbeattributedtoincreasedarousal.However,ifthestressor
continues,iteventuallytakesitstoll,andresultsindecreasedperformance
anddeleterioushealthconsequences.Furthermore,workersareawareofthe
tollthatstresshashadontheirownperformances.Halfofallworkerssay
thatjobstressreducestheirproductivity.(Lawless,1992)
CausesofStress
Stressorscanbedividedintothosethatarisefromwithinanindividual
(internal),andthosethatareattributabletotheenvironment(external).
Internalconflicts,nonspecificfears,fearsofinadequacy,andguiltfeelings
areexamplesofstressorsthatdonotdependontheenvironment.Internal
sourcesofstresscanarisefromanindividual'sperceptionsofan
environmentalthreat,evenifnosuchdangeractuallyexists.Environmental
stressorsareexternalconditionsbeyondanindividual'scontrol.Bhagat
(1983)hasreportedthatworkperformancecanbeseriouslyimpairedby
externalstressors.Therearemanyaspectsoforganizationallifethatcan
becomeexternalstressors.Theseincludeissuesofstructure,management's
useofauthority,monotony,alackofopportunityforadvancement,excessive
responsibilities,ambiguousdemands,valueconflicts,andunrealisticwork
loads.Aperson'snonworkinglife(e.g.,family,friends,health,andfinancial
situations)canalsocontainstressorsthatnegativelyimpactjobperformance.
Albrecht(1979)arguesthatnearlyallstressorsareemotionallyinduced.
Thesearebasedonpeoples'expectations,or"...thebeliefthatsomething
terribleisabouttohappen."(p.83)Thus,emotionallyinducedstressarises
fromone'simagination.Albrechtbelievesthatoursociety'snumberone
healthproblemisanxiety,andthatemotionallyinducedstresscanbe
classifiedintofourcategories:1)timestress,2)anticipatorystress,3)
situationalstress,and4)encounterstress.Timestressisalwayscreatedby
arealorimaginarydeadline.Anticipatorystressiscreatedwhenaperson
perceivesthatanupcomingeventwillbeunpleasant.Situationalstresscan
occurwhenapersonisinanunpleasantsituation,andtheyworryaboutwhat
willhappennext.Encounterstressiscreatedbycontactwithotherpeople
(bothpleasantandunpleasant).
Manysituationsinorganizationallifecanbestressful.Theseinclude:1)
problemswiththephysicalenvironment,suchaspoorlightingorexcessive
nose,2)problemswiththequalityofworksuch,aslackofdiversity,an
excessivepace,ortoolittlework,3)roleambiguitiesorconflictsin

responsibilities,4)relationshipswithsupervisors,peers,andsubordinates,
and5)careerdevelopmentstressors,suchaslackofjobsecurity,perceived
obsolescence,andinadequateadvancement.
Adverseworkingconditions,suchasexcessivenoise,extremetemperatures,
orovercrowding,canbeasourceofjobrelatedstress.(McGrath,1978).
Reitz(1987)reportsthatworkerson"swingshifts"experiencemorestress
thanotherworkers.OrthGomer(1986)concludesthatwhenthreeshiftsare
usedtoprovidearoundtheclockproduction,majordisturbancesinpeople
maybeunavoidable.Onesourceofenvironmentalstressignoredinthe
organizationalliteratureisnonnaturalelectromagneticradiation.Becker
(1990)reportsthatthetwomostprominenteffectsofelectromagnetic
radiationarestressandcancers.Modernofficesarefilledwithelectronic
devicesthatproducehighlevelsofradiation.Theseincludecomputers,video
monitors,typewriters,fluorescentlights,clocks,copyingmachines,faxes,
electricpencilsharpeners,andahostofotherelectronicdevices.Human
sensitivitytoelectomagneticfieldsiswelldocumented,andthedesignof
futureofficeequipmentwillmostlikelyinvolveaconsiderationofemitted
radiation.
ArnoldandFeldman(1986)emphasizethedeleteriouseffectsofrole
ambiguity,conflict,overloadandunderload.Roleambiguityisoftentheresult
ofmergers,acquisitionsandrestructuring,whereemployeesareunsureof
theirnewjobresponsibilities.Roleconflicthasbeencategorizedintotwo
types:intersenderandintrasender.(Kahn,etal.,1964)Intersenderrole
conflictcanoccurwhenworker'sperceivethattwodifferentsourcesare
generatingincompatibledemandsorexpectations.Intrasenderroleconflict
canarisewhenworker'sperceiveconflictingdemandsfromthesamesource.
Overloadisfrequentlycreatedbyexcessivetimepressures,wherestress
increasesasadeadlineapproaches,andthenrapidlysubsides.Underloadis
theresultofaninsufficientquantity,oraninadequatevarietyofwork.Both
overloadandunderloadcanresultinlowselfesteemandstressrelated
symptoms,however,underloadhasalsobeenassociatedwithpassivityand
generalfeelingsofapathy.(KatzandKahn,1978)
Poorinterpersonalrelationshipsarealsoacommonsourceofstressin
organizations.ArnoldandFeldman(1986)citethreetypesofinterpersonal
relationshipsthatcanevokeastressreaction:1)toomuchprolongedcontact
withotherpeople,2)toomuchcontactwithpeoplefromotherdepartments,
and3)anunfriendlyorhostileorganizationalclimate.
Personalfactorsareoftenasourceofstress.Theseincludecareerrelated
concerns,suchasjobsecurityandadvancement,aswellasfinancialand
familyconcerns.HolmesandRahe(1967)constructedascaleoffortythree
lifeevents,andratedthemaccordingtotheamountofstresstheyproduce.
Themostnotablefeatureoftheirinstrumentisthatmanypositivelife
changes(i.e.,marriage,Christmas,vacations,etc.)aresubstantialsources
ofstress.Generally,stressappearstobearesultofanychangeinone's
dailyroutine.
French,Kast,andRosenzweig(1985)believethatanysituationthatrequires
abehavioraladjustmentisasourceofstress.However,asituationthatis
stressfulforonepersonmightnotbestressfulforanother.Olderworkers
seemtobelessstronglyaffectedbystressfulsituations.(Parasuramanand
Alutto,1984)Individualswithhighselfesteemandatoleranceforambiguity
arelesspronetostressrelatedillnesses.(ArnoldandFeldman,1986).There
isalsoconsiderableevidencethataperson'ssusceptibilitytostressis
dependentontheirpersonalitytypes.TypeApersonalities(thosethatseek
outfastpaced,challengingsituations)oftenreacttostresswithhostilityand
anger,whileTypeBpersonalitiesseemtobehaveanimmunitytothesame
stressors(Albrecht,1979FriedmanandRosenman,1974Matthews,1982
Organ,1979).
Severalstudieshavefoundthatindividual'swhobelievetheyhavecontrol

overtheirownfate(internals),perceivelessstressintheirworkthanthose
whobelievetheirfutureisdeterminedbyotherfactors(externals).Genmill
andHeisler(1972)reportedthat"internals"hadmorejobsatisfactionand
perceivedtheirjobsaslessstressfulthan"externals".Theyalsofoundthata
managersperceivedstresswasunrelatedtoeducation,lengthoftimeintheir
career,ortheirlevelinthehierarchy.Anotherstudylookedatmanagersof
businessesinacommunitythathadrecentlybeendestroyedbyahurricane.
(Anderson,Hellriegel,andSlocum,1977).Theseresearchersfoundthat
"internals"experiencedlessstressfromthecatastrophe,andthattheir
perceivedlocusofcontrolwasamoreimportantfactorthantheirinsurance
coverage,theamountoftheloss,orthedurationthatthecompanywasout
ofbusiness.Lawless(1992)reportsthat"...jobstressisaconsequenceof
twokeyingredients:ahighlevelofjobdemandsandlittlecontroloverone's
work."(p.4)
Somestudieshavereportedthatmalesseemtobemorepronetostress
relatedillnessthanfemales.Menreportmoreulcersandhaveahigherrateof
heartattacksthanwomen(Albrecht,1979).Otherstudieshavefoundno
differences.FriedmanandRosenman(1974)foundthatTypeAwomen
sufferedfromcardiovasculardiseasesandheartattacksasoftenastheir
malecounterparts.Womeninmanagerialpositionssufferheartattacksatthe
samerateasmeninsimilarpositions.(Albrecht,1979)Inarecentstudy,
Lawless(1992)reportedthatwomensufferedfifteenpercentmorestress
relatedillnessesthanmen.Theyalsothoughtaboutquittingtheirjobsmore
often,andreportedahigherincidenceofburnout.Lawlessproposedthatthis
istheresultofunequalpayscalesandafailureoforganizationstoadopt
policiessensitivetofamilyissues.Asmorewomenentertheworkforce,the
effectsontheirhealtharebecomingincreasinglyapparent.Itmaybethat
pastdifferencesbetweenmalesandfemalesaretheresultoftheirexperience
intheworkforce,andunrelatedtogenderperse.
Lawless(1991)identifiedthefivemostcommoncausesofworkerstress:1)
toomuchrigidityinhowtodoajob,2)substantialcutsinemployeebenefits,
3)amerger,acquisition,orchangeofownership,4)requiringfrequent
overtime,and5)reducingthesizeoftheworkforce.Overfortypercentofthe
workforceexperiencedoneormorestressrelatedillnessesasaresultof
thesefivestressors.Singleordivorcedemployees,unionemployees,
women,andhourlyworkersreportedgreaterstresslevels,andahigher
likelihoodof"burningout".(p.68)Inafollowupstudy,Lawless(1992)found
similarresultsexceptthattherewasnosignificantdifferencebetween
marriedandunmarriedworkers.Howeversinglewomenwithchildrenwere
morelikelytoburnoutthanmarriedwomenwithchildren."Singleparenthood
compoundsthestresswomenfaceinjugglingworkandchildcare
responsibilities,especiallywhenovertimehoursarerequired."(p.11)
Thecurrentrecessionis,tosomedegree,responsibleforincreasedstressin
America'sworkforce."Privatesectorworkersfeelmorepressuretoprove
theirvaluebecauseoftherecession."(Lawless,1992,p.6)Nearlyhalfofall
workersandsupervisorsblametherecessionforhigherstresslevelsand
lowerproductivity.Botharebeingaskedtoachievehighergoalswitha
reducedworkforce.Supervisorsreportedslightlymorestressthanworkers,
however,theywerenomorelikelytoexperiencejobburnout.Lawless
proposedthatsupervisors'highersalariesandmorehavingmorecontrolover
theirjobs,partiallycounteractedthenegativeeffectsofstress.Employees
whoearnedlessthan$25,000reportedlessstress,buttheyweremorelikely
toburnoutbecausetheyhadlesscontrolovertheirwork.Overhalfofthe
collegegraduatesinthisincomecategoryreportedfeelingburnedout.
ManagingStress
Mangersoforganizationshaveadualperspectiveofstress.Theyneedtobe
awareoftheirownstresslevels,aswellasthoseoftheirsubordinates.Most
oftheliteraturefocusesonwaysofreducingstress.However,amore
appropriateapproachmightbetoexaminewaysofoptimizingstress.French,
Kast,andRosenzweig(1985)statethatthechallengeistominimizedistress

andmaintaineustress.Theypointoutthattheconditionsoforganizationallife
createaseriesofparadoxes,thatdemonstratetheneedforbalanceand
equilibrium.
1.Uncertaintycanleadtodistress,butsocancertaintyor
overcontrol.
2.Pressurecanleadtodistress,butsocanlimboorlackof
contact.
3.Responsibilitycanleadtodistress,butsocanlackof
responsibilityorinsignificance.
4.Performanceevaluationcanleadtodistress,butsocanlack
offeedbackconcerningperformance.
5.Roleambiguitycanleadtodistress,butsocanjob
descriptionsthatconstrainindividuality.(p.708)
Theroleofmanagementbecomesoneofmaintaininganappropriatelevelof
stressbyprovidinganoptimalenvironment,and"bydoingagoodjobinareas
suchasperformanceplanning,roleanalysis,workredesign/jobenrichment,
continuingfeedback,ecologicalconsiderations,andinterpersonalskills
training."(p.709)
Thereareessentiallythreestrategiesfordealingwithstressinorganizations
(JickandPayne,1980):1)treatthesymptoms,2)changetheperson,and3)
removethecauseofthestress.Whenapersonisalreadysufferingfromthe
effectsofstress,thefirstpriorityistotreatthesymptoms.Thisincludesboth
theidentificationofthosesufferingfromexcessivestress,aswellas
providinghealthcareandpsychologicalcounselingservices.Thesecond
approachistohelpindividualsbuildstressmanagementskillstomakethem
lessvulnerabletoitseffects.Exampleswouldbeteachingemployeestime
managementandrelaxationtechniques,orsuggestingchangestoone'sdiet
orexercise.Thethirdapproachistoeliminateorreducetheenvironmental
situationthatiscreatingthestress.Thiswouldinvolvereducing
environmentalstressorssuchasnoiseandpollution,ormodifyingproduction
schedulesandworkloads.
Manymodernorganizationsviewthemanagementofstressasapersonal
matter.Anefforttomonitoremployeestresslevelswouldbeconsideredan
invasionofprivacy.However,Lawless(1991)foundthatnineoutoften
employeesfeltthatitwastheemployersresponsibilitytoreduceworker
stressandprovideahealthplanthatcoversstressillnesses.She
emphasizedthat"employeeshavenodoubtthatstressrelatedillnessesand
disabilityshouldbetakenseriously.Employeesexpectsubstantiveactionby
theiremployerandholdtheiremployerfinanciallyresponsibleforthe
consequencesofjobstress."(p.12)
Lawless(1991)reportedthatfourdifferentemployerprogramswereeffective
inreducingjobburnout,wherethepercentofpeoplereportingburnoutwas
reducedbyhalf.Furthermore,whentheseprogramswereoffered,therewere
alsohalfasmanystressrelatedillnesses.Theyare:1)supportiveworkand
familypolicies,2)effectivemanagementcommunication,3)healthinsurance
coverageformentalillnessandchemicaldependency,and4)flexible
schedulingofworkhours.Thisstudyalsoreportedthatthesuccessratefor
treatingstressrelateddisabilitieswasconsiderablylessthantheaveragefor
alldisabilities,andthattheaveragecosttotreatstressrelatedconditions
was$1,925(bothsuccessfulandunsuccessful).
Managerscantakeactivestepstominimizeundesirablestressin
themselvesandtheirsubordinates.WilliamsandHuber(1986)suggestfive
managerialactionsthatcanbeusedtoreducestressinworkers.

1.Clarifyingtaskassignments,responsibility,authority,and
criteriaforperformanceevaluation.
2.Introducingconsiderationforpeopleintoone'sleadership
style.
3.Delegatingmoreeffectivelyandincreasingindividual
autonomywherethesituationwarrantsit.
4.Clarifyinggoalsanddecisioncriteria.
5.Settingandenforcingpoliciesformandatoryvacationsand
reasonableworkinghours.(p.252)
Establishingone'spriorities(i.e.,valueclarification)isanimportantstepin
thereductionofstress.Thedemandsofmanymanagerialpositionscause
theneglectofotherareasofone'slife,suchasfamily,friends,recreation,
andreligion.Thisneglectcreatesstress,whichinturnaffectsjob
performanceandhealth.Valueclarificationislinkedtotimemanagement,
sincewegenerallyallocateourtimeaccordingtoourpriorities.Bysetting
personalpriorities,managersandsubordinatescanreducethissourceof
stress.Itistypicallythefirststepinanystressreductionprogram.
Manysourcesofstressinorganizationscannotbechanged.Thesemight
includesituationslikeaprolongedrecessionaryperiod,newcompetitors,or
anunanticipatedcrisis.Organizationalmembersgenerallyhavelittlecontrol
overthesekindsofstressors,andtheycancreateextendedperiodsofhigh
stresssituations.Peoplewhoadjusttothesestressorsgenerallyuseaform
ofperceptualadaptation,wheretheymodifythewayinwhichtheyperceive
thesituation.
Othersourcesofstressinorganizationscanbechanged.Oneparticularly
effectivewayformanagerstominimizeemployeestressistoclarify
ambiguities,suchasjobassignmentsandresponsibilities.(Arnoldand
Feldman,1986)Employeestressisdirectlyrelatedtotheamountof
uncertaintyintheirtasks,expectations,androles.Managerscanencourage
employeestosearchformoreinformationwhentheyaregivenunfamiliar
tasks,orwhentheyareuncertainoftheirroles.Anotherwaytoreduce
employeestressistoincorporatetimemanagementtechniques,aswellas
settingrealistictimeschedulesforthecompletionofprojects.
Therearemanyothersuccessfulwaysofdealingwithstress.Theseinclude
stressreductionworkshops,tranquilizers,biofeedback,meditation,self
hypnosis,andavarietyofothertechniquesdesignedtorelaxanindividual.
Programsthatteachtoleranceforambiguityoftenreportpositiveeffects.One
ofthemostpromisingisahealthmaintenanceprogramthatstressesthe
necessityofproperdiet,exerciseandsleep.
Socialsupportsystemsseemtobeextremelyeffectiveinpreventingor
relievingthedeleteriouseffectsofstress.Friendsandfamilycanprovidea
nurturingenvironmentthatbuildsselfesteem,andmakesoneless
susceptibletostress.Onestudyfoundthatgovernmentwhitecollarworkers
whoreceivedsupportfromtheirsupervisors,peers,andsubordinates
experiencedfewerphysicalsymptomsofstress.(KatzandKahn,1978)
Managerscancreatenurturingandsupportiveenvironmentstohelpminimize
jobrelatedstress.
Albrecht(1979)hypothesizedthatthereareeightrelatively"universal"factors
thatcomeintoplaywhenevaluatingthebalancebetweenstressandreward
(jobsatisfaction)inorganizations.Theseare:1)workload,2)physical
variables,3)jobstatus,4)accountability,5)taskvariety,6)humancontact,
7)physicalchallenge,and8)mentalchallenge.Eachindividualhasa
"comfortzone"fortheeightfactors.Thegoalofmanagementistofindthe
"comfortzone"foreachemployeethatresultsinoptimalperformancewithout

producingundesirablesideeffects.Albrecht'staxonomyisimportantbecause
itrecognizesthenecessityofbalance.Forexample,Taylorismstressesthe
ideasofmaximumoutput,minimaltaskvariety,andcontinuoussupervision.
Thepredictedeffectoftheseimbalanceswouldbestressandareductionin
jobsatisfaction.Perhapsmanyoftoday'sorganizationalproblemswithworker
stressaretheresultoftheeffectiveapplicationofTaylorism.
Thesocialclimateofanorganizationisoftenviewedasacauseofstress.
However,socialclimateisarelativisticconcept,and"thesocialclimateofan
organizationiswhatevermostofthepeoplethinkitis."(Albrecht,1979,p.
167)Therearethreefactorsthatneedtobeexaminedwhenevaluatingsocial
climate.Thefirstisthedegreetowhichemployeesidentifywithoralienate
themselvesfromtheorganization.Employeeattitudesurveysareaneffective
methodofmeasuringthisfactor.Identificationcanbemeasuredthrough
employeesprideinmembership,andtheextenttowhichtheytakeinitiative
andofferconstructivesuggestions.Alienationcanbedetectedbyexamining
whethermembersopenlycriticizetheorganization,orthedegreetowhich
theyopposechange.Thesecondfactoroforganizationalclimateisthe
degreetowhichlaborandmanagementarepolarized.Oneofthemost
effectivewaysofdealingwiththisproblemistomakealllevelsof
managementmorevisibleandaccessible.Employeesarelesslikelyto
criticizemanagementwhotheyseeonaregularbasis.Thegoalistochange
toperceptionfrom"they"(themanagers)to"we"(themembersofthe
organization).Thethirdfactoristheperceivedsocialnormsofthe
organization.Socialnormsareabstractorganizationalvalues,suchastrust,
fairness,andrespect.Interviewsandquestionnairescanbeusedtoascertain
organizationalsocialnorms,butcorrectiveactioninvolvessettingup
managementprogramsthatclarifyorganizationalvalues,andmayinvolve
replacingcertainmanagerswhennecessary.
QuickandQuick(1984)suggestseveraldiagnosticproceduresfor
determiningstresslevelsinorganizations.Interviewsallowindepthprobing,
buttheyaretimeconsuminganddependprimarilyonthelisteningskillsof
theinterviewer.Questionnaireshavetheadvantageofbeingabletoprocess
highervolumesofdata,buttheyoftenlosethe"flavor"orfeelofthe
responses.Observationaltechniques(bothmedicalandbehavioral)canbe
eitherquantitativeorqualitative.Quantitativetechniquesmightinvolve
gatheringcompanyrecords,suchastheratesofabsenteeism,tardiness,
turnover,andproduction.Qualitativetechniquesinvolveobservingworkersfor
signsofstressrelatedbehavior.
Jobengineeringandjobredesignarerecentconceptsthatattemptto
minimizejobrelatedstress.Jobengineeringtakesintoaccountthevalues
andneedsoftheworker,aswellastheproductionobjectivesofthe
organization.(Albrecht,1979)Itinvolvesasixstepcyclicalprocess,
beginningwithdefiningthejobobjectives.Thisinitialstepmakesstatements
about"accomplishingsomethingofrecognizedvalue."(p.159)Thesecond
stepistodefinethejobconditions.Thisstepspecifiesthephysical,social,
andpsychologicalcharacteristicsofthejob.Thethirdstepistodefinethejob
processes,equipment,andmaterials.Processesareoftenpresentedina
flowcharttoshowthesequenceofoperations.Thefourthstepistore
evaluatethedesignfromtheperspectiveoftheworker,thegoalbeingto
achieveabalancebetweenjobsatisfactionandperformance.Thefifthstepis
totestthejobdesign.Employeesoftenexperienceproblemsnotanticipated
byjobengineers.Theevaluationshouldlookatthe"totalcombinationof
person,equipment,materials,processes,andsurroundingsasanintegrated
whole,andyoumustmeasurebothproductivityandemployeesatisfaction
beforeyoucansaythejobiswelldesigned."(p.162)Thesixthstepinvolves
theongoingreevaluationandredesignofthejob.Employeeattitudesand
valueschange,andnewtechnologyprovidesalternativestothestatusquo.
Jobengineeringattemptstobesensitivetothesechanges,andtomodifyjob
descriptionsasnecessary.
Sevelius(1986)describeshisexperienceimplementingawellnesseducation
programatalargemanufacturingplant.Severalsuccessfultechniqueswere

used.Bookletsonspecifichealthsubjectswereplacein"Takeone"bins
convenientlylocatedaroundtheplant.Thebookletswerepositivelyreceived
andincreasedemployeesawarenessandknowledge.Campaignswere
undertakentohighlightthespecificthemesinthebooklets.Grouplectures
weretriedandfoundtobeineffectivebecauselessthantenpercentofthe
employeesattendedthem.Inaddition,thelectureswerevideotaped,but
employeesdidnottakethetimetoviewthem.Medicalexaminations
generallydidnotrevealhiddenillnesses,however,theywerefoundtobeof
considerablevaluebecausetheygaveemployeestheopportunityof
individualmedicalcounseling.Seveliussuggeststhatpeersupportsystems
mightalsobesuccessfulintheworkplace.
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