What are causes of work-related stress???
Causes of Stress
Most people would agree that a certain amount of pressure is tolerable, even enjoyable. Different people, of course, react in different ways to pressure. Some people tolerate more than others do.
But we are often at our best when the adrenalin is flowing and when we are working under pressure to achieve good results within a limited time. Problems start when the pressure becomes too great or continues for long periods. It then becomes stress. It ceases to be enjoyable.
In the UK, employees are absent for an average of eight days a year and stress is the fourth major cause of this absence (CIPD, 2008). The five main causes of work-related stress that CIPD identified were:
• management style
• relationships at work
• organisational change and restructuring
• lack of employee support from line managers.
These causes should alert you to the idea that, as a manager, you are just as likely to suffer from stress as to be the cause of it!
Pressure and Stress
It is important that managers are able to distinguish between pressure and stress so that they can avoid stress while making the best use of appropriate pressure. A simple way of differentiating between pressure and stress is by the effects that they have.
Pressure: Most high achievers (and a lot of managers would fall into this category) find pressure to be positively motivating. They are able to respond to it energetically.
Stress: On the other hand, stress is debilitating. It deprives people of their strength, their vitality and their judgement. The area of concern is where pressure becomes stress. Here, one needs to be constantly looking for tell-tale signs.
The most common causes of stress are:
• Role ambiguity,
• Role incompatibility
• Role conflicts
• Relationship problems
• Career uncertainty
For the manager, demand will include responsibilities such as:
• responsibility for the work of others and having to reconcile overlapping or conflicting objectives - between group and organisation, between individuals and group, and between one’s own objectives and those of other managers
• responsibility for innovative activities, especially in organisations where there is a cultural resistance to change.
When these demands are excessive, they can be regarded as role overload which occurs when a manager is expected to hold too many roles.
In the recent past, many organisations in Europe and the USA have responded to demands for cost reduction by ‘delayering’. This involves reducing the number of managers, while the amount of work to be managed remains the same.
Some organisations have implemented delayering by requiring that the remaining managers do all the work of managers now removed. They are also told to achieve the same quality as before. The managers affected may see this as an impossible task. Equally, role underload can be stressful if a person feels underused.
Work overload and underload is different from role overload and underload. In work overload and underload, stress is created as a result of the quality and quantity of work demanded - either too much or too little.
A manager’s role as coordinator can be stressful, especially where authority is unclear or resources are inadequate.
Ambiguity about management roles is often inevitable: they invariably combine a number of overlapping roles. Indeed, it is precisely this overlap that makes management jobs interesting and offers scope for creativity.
Role incompatibility occurs when a manager’s expectations of role are significantly different from those of his or her staff and colleagues. Pressure to do things that do not feel appropriate or ‘right’ is stressful.
Role conflict may occur when someone has to carry out several different roles. Although the manager may be comfortable about performing each role individually, there may be conflict when several roles are held at one time. This may include conflict between roles associated with home and family and roles associated with work.
Other major sources of stress that are not confined to managers but affect them include:
People who have difficulties with their manager, their staff or their colleagues may exhibit symptoms of stress.
All staff need adequate support from colleagues and superiors.
Uncertainty often occurs as a result of rapid changes in the economic situation inside and outside the organisation, in technology, in markets and in organisational structures.
We have considered mainly causes of stress which take place at work. There are many causes of stress in workers’ lives outside work.
Some organisations make arrangements to help workers with their problems caused by issues outside work. Since this help can involve specialist knowledge, organisations may employ their own specialists for this.
Managers need to know what the organisation’s policies are on stress with causes outside work, and what they should and should not do.
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