Study of Workplace Stress Factors Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Stress in the Workplace

The research topic under discussion is Stress at Workplace. Stress comes with different definitions, one of which is that stress is a 'physical, chemical or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension.' Emotional stress relates to job burnout, tension and strain and many scholars have called it a psychological process and linked it with the individual and the situation that he is in (American Psychological Association, 2009). The global economy has become very competitive and demands a lot of work from the employees which puts a lot of pressure on them. These increased expansions and demands of the traditional workplace have put a lot more pressure on the workers (Lokk & Arnetz, 1997; Soylu and Campbell, 2012).

The International Labor Organization and World Health Organization have recognized many different effects of stress that are harmful to the person. These effects include physical problems, psychological problems, withdrawal behaviors, lack of self-awareness etc. (Harrison 2000). The yearly costs that absenteeism causes due to stress have been estimated around 300 billion dollars (American Psychological Association Practice Organization, 2010). 550 million days of work are lost yearly due to the emotional and physical stress in the U.S. (American Psychological Association Practice Organization, 2010). Many researchers argue that the different levels of emotional stress when reach the excessive stage, results in the origination of many mental and physical problems (Herbert, 1997). Emotional stress is defined as external and internal forces between an individual and his environment which mentally or physically impair him or her (Jacqueline, 2008). Physical problems like scoliosis and fibromyalgia create pain for the person who has to stand or sit for long periods. Typing during work is a serious physical problem as the posture one sits while typing strains the tendons, muscles and bones. Physical stress has been defined as an 'external force in a person's environment that manifests a permanent or temporary physical problem' (American Psychological Association Practice Organization, 2010; Soylu and Campbell, 2012).

There have been several incidents of stress reported among the workers in the past years and it has had a huge impact on the companies whose workers are suffering from stress. The firms are starting to make urgent business strategies in order to overcome the problem (Swanson, 2000). In 2007, a survey by the American workers showed that workers were experiencing a lot of physical symptoms due to stress at work (International Labor Organization, 2009; Soylu and Campbell, 2012). The statistics of American Psychological Association state the main source of stress in people's lives is due to work. 15% of the people surveyed ranked stress at work to be the main problem in their lives (Rosch, 2001). The unbalance economy and low incomes is also one of the problems of stress at work (Michie, 2002).

The work stressors range from unclear expectations at work to noisy stations and time pressure. One of the most important sources of work stress is the unbalance between personal life and work which adds to stress. Women suffer mostly from this because they also have to look after their children and home (Yerks, Robert & John, 1908). People suffering from stress at work are more likely to be absent from their job. As a consequence of this, the people suffering from stress face many health problems and their costs of healthcare doubles. The cost of illnesses range from 200 to 300 billion dollars annually (American Psychological Association Practice Organization, 2010). A lot of workers are starting to realize the consequences of stress and taking actions for it now. As time passes, stress is going to increase and so will the healthcare costs so the organizations are working hard on developing strategies that prevents stress at work (American Psychological Association, 2008).

Management Dilemma

Management dilemma is linked with combating stress and keeping negative attitude away. The stress signs can be clearly seen in the behaviors of the people. Severe problems resulting from stress can be in the areas of feeling like fatigue, irritability, depression, anxiety etc. behavior like unmotivated, tearful, aggressive, being withdrawn etc. thinking like problem solving, difficulties in concentration etc. Or physical symptoms like headaches, nausea, palpitations etc. (Pfeifer, 2008) With persistence of stress, changes in immunological functioning, autonomic, cardiovascular and neuroendocrine which will lead to physical and mental illnesses like heart diseases, depression and anxiety etc. (Tudu & Pathak, 2013).

The resources which will help to meet the demands and pressures that are faced at work involve the personal traits like coping skills and improving the situation of work by creating a good environment (Lluminari, Inc. 2004) These resources can be increased by investing in training, infrastructure, employment practices and good management (American Psychological Association Practice Organization, 2010). A better practice of employment involves keeping in mind the risks of stress among the workers. This includes:

Deciding who is harmed by it

Searching or work pressures that cause illnesses and are long lasting

Deciding the actions that should be taken in order to avoid any harm (Hurley, 2007)

A lot of precautions that decrease the risk of illnesses due to stress include both organizational and individual approaches. The individual approach includes psychological services and training, counseling, health and clinical facilities. The management and prevention of stress requires organizational interventions because an organization is the main source of stress (Stress in the Workplace, 2009).

Research Question

The research question is "How does work related stress affect the society at a different levels? Stress is being studied in a lot of work areas but it is not getting enough attention regarding the serious damages that it can cause.

Literature Review

Disability and Accidents, Workers' compensation claims

Stress is a built in condition and the individuals are bound to have psychological and physical reactions to stress when they are faced with a theat. Sleepiness and distraction related to stress has recorded up to sixty to eighty percent of the accidents during work (Hurley, 2007). Compensation claim by the workers have increased which is causing the system to go bankrupt in a lot of states (Galinsky et al., 2005). Around one million employers miss work every day due to stress which costs the company around 602 dollars of each employee every year (Jadwiga, 2009). The employees who are present at work do not perform up to their capabilities and do not fulfill their responsibilities properly. Sixty percent of the employees have lost their productivity because of stress in the recent years (Galinsky et al., 2005).

Physical and psychological effects

The health care costs of the workers in stress are forty six percent higher than the workers who are not under stress (NIOSH, 1999). Around sixty to ninety percent doctors receive patients who are under stress and are suffering from stress related problems. Prolong stress if not treated properly can heighten the risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes etc. (DeNavas-Walt, Proctor, & Smith,2009). Diabetes cost around fifty eight billion dollars in 2007 (Randstad, 2007). Stress can lower the immune system of an individual which can increase their risks of catching flu, cold, and other diseases (Haefner, 2008). People suffering from stress can cause painful illnesses like fatigue. According to a survey of APA, fifty three percent of the employees suffered from stress at work (Shuttleworth, 2004).

Stress condition that the workers are suffering from includes low morale, job dissatisfaction, short temper, and poor concentration (Jadwiga, 2009). The employees facing stress have a high risk of physical and mental problems which range from abuse, anxiety, and depression. According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, depression has caused twenty three billion dollars annual absenteeism (Hurley, 2007).

Unhealthy Coping Habits

According to a survey, 40% of the people smoke, 41% of the people gamble, 35% of the people shop and 27% of the people drink alcohol in order to cope with stress (National Safety Council, 2010). A lot of people start overeating which can result in obesity and causes the businesses to cost thirteen billion dollars every year in lost productivity and medical costs. In a survey in, around 26% workers gained ten pounds while 12% of the workers gained 20 pounds at work (CareerBuilder Inc. 2010).

Causes of Workplace Stress on and Off the Job

Job stressors are defined as harmful emotional and physical response that occurs with the rise in demands at work. A lot of studies report that the people who think that they do not have any control over their work report high levels of stress. The top stressors for people at work according to APA are;

Lack of prospect for improvement and expansion -- 43%

Intense workload -- 43%

Low-end income and salaries -- 43%

Impractical job prospects -- 40%

Job safety -- 34% (National Business Group on Health & Strategy One, 2007)

Job stressors include ineffective communication and management styles, lack of participation in decision making and disturbing environments at work. Around 60% employees reported noise as an added stressor and distraction (International Labor Organization, 2007). Long working hours is also one of the cause…

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