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Occupational stress

• Occupational stress can be defined

as the "harmful physical and
emotional responses that occur when
the requirements of the job do not
match the capabilities, resources or
need of the worker" (Sauter and
Murphy. 1999).
Organisational stress and job
What is performance?
Performance is defined as an activity
in which an individual is able to
accomplish successfully the task/goal
assigned, subject to normal constraint
of the reasonable utilisation of
available resources.(Jamal 1984).
Job performance has studied in relation to
organisational stress and quite
inconsistent findings have emerged:
• Performance is defined as the
outcomes and accomplishments
valued by the organization or system
that one works in.
• Each individual is exposed to a range of
stressors both at work and in their personal lives
which ultimately affect his or her performance.
• Pressure at work can be positive leading to
increased productivity.
• However, when this pressure becomes
excessive it has a negative impact. The
individual perceive themselves as being unable
to cope and not to possess the necessary skills
to combat their stress. Stress is acknowledged
to be one of the main causes of absence from
work (Mead, 2000).
• The occupational stressors can be categorized
into four major groups. Firstly, the working
conditions, including shift and week-end work,
inadequate remuneration, hours of work,
discrimination and safety at the work
environment. Secondly, relationships at work
including quality of relationships with peers,
subordinates and supervisors. Thirdly, role
conflict and ambiguity including ill-defined role,
functions, expectations, and duties.
• Fourthly, organization structure and
climate which includes communication
policy and practice, major changes in the
workplace, culture of the organization,
and lack of participation in decision-
making. Another cause is career
development including under utilization of
skills or failing to reach full potential.
• Another contributing factor is the nature
of the job which might
• amount to an immense amount of
physical and emotional exhaustion
Relationship between job
performance and
organisational stress
• 3 types of relationships have
emerged from findings:
Positive linear relationship
Negative linear relationship
Inverted U relationship.
Positive linear relationship

 In a positive linear relationship between stress

and job performance, stress is equated with
challenge to be treated as the occasion for
constructive activity and high performance.
 At low level of stress the individual faces little
challenge, he would not display an improved
 At moderate level of stress, the individual is
slightly aroused in the terms of challenge, thus
he/she is slightly expected to show improved
 At a high level of stress, the
individual experiences substantial
arousal thus would be expected to
display high improved performance.
Negative linear relationship
 A negative linear relationship between
stress and performance implies that stress
is a noxious stimulus, aversive to most
 Those facing stress would waste most of
their energy in coping with stress.
 Their performance would be negatively
Inverted U Relationship
• It is evident that a high degree of stress results in
decrease in the level of performance.
• Low levels of stress cause bored room and results in
lack of stimulation, motivation and challenge are
associated with low levels of performance.As level of
stress the performance is higher.
• A moderate degree of stress stimulates one to face
challenge and is necessary for higher level of
performance. However a moderate stress over a long
period may prove more harmful than a short time
high level of stress.
Personality and Stress
• Individuals personality has a major effect
on his or her behavior.
• Research conducted by Kobasa
suggests that hardy personalities can
adapt positively to the stressor.
• Kobasa identifies 3 general
characteristics of them:
The believe that they can control and
influence events in their lives.
Committed to their activities in life
Enjoy anticipating challenges
• Low hardiness Personality assess
stressors pessimistically, view
stressful life as unchangeable
disruptions to normal course of their
behavior and try to escape from
• Research done by kahn states that
people do suffer from neurotic
• People suffering from high neurotic
anxiety have a lower tolerance to
organizational stress rather then
their counter parts.
• Rotter has done research on:
People with internal and external
locus of control.
Another dimension for research was
extroversion and introversion.
Another dimension for research was
flexibility rigidity dimension.
• A simple division of preference or personality type is into Type A and Type B,
which is based broadly on anxiety and stress levels.
• Type A
The Type A personality generally lives at a higher stress level. This
is driven by :
 They enjoy achievement of goals, with greater enjoyment in
achieving of more difficult goals. They are thus constantly
working hard to achieve these.
 They find it difficult to stop, even when they have achieved
 They feel the pressure of time, constantly working flat out.
 They are highly competitive and will, if necessary create
 They hate failure and will work hard to avoid it.
 They are generally pretty fit and often well-educated (a
result of their anxiety
• Type B
 The Type B personality generally lives at a lower
stress level and are typically:
 They work steadily, enjoying achievements but not
becoming stressed when they are not achieved.
 When faced with competition, they do not mind
losing and either enjoy the game or back down.
 They may be creative and enjoy exploring ideas and
 They are often reflective, thinking about the outer
and inner worlds.
• High degree of ambition and drive
• Extremely competitive
• Exhibits a high level of
• Constantly working against time
Type B
• High level of patience
• Easy going and relaxed
• Less likely to over react to situations
in hostile or aggressive ways.
• Unconcerned about time pressures.
Stress Effects
• Individual effects(physical,
psychological and behavioral)
• Organizational Effects:
Burden of high costs to the organization
Absenteeism and turnover
Resistance to change
Workplace violence
The loss of intellectual capital
Stress coping strategies
• Coping has been defined as problem
solving efforts made by an individual
faced with demands that are highly
relevant to his welfare.
• Stress reduction strategies

• Stress resilience strategies

• Stress Recuperation strategies

Stress reduction strategies
• Simple and effective planning
• Time Management
• Delegation of authority
• Development of network and social
• Choosing or altering the work
Stress Resilience strategies
• Exercise
• Good nutritional habits
• Regular physical checkups
Stress Recuperation
• Meditation
• Transcendental meditation
• Antigenic Training
• Biofeedback
• Progressive relaxation
• Vipassana
• yoga