Unit- 4 : Work stress



Stress: A black and white photo of a woman that captures her high level of stress.

Stress is defined in terms of how it impacts physical and psychological health; it includes mental, physical, and emotional strain. Stress occurs when a demand exceeds an individual’s coping ability and disrupts his or her psychological equilibrium. Stress occurs in the workplace when an employee perceives a situation to be too strenuous to handle, and therefore threatening to his or her well-being.



Symptoms of stress: Stress can manifest as various symptoms affecting one’s body, mind, behavior, and/or emotions.

Negative or overwhelming work experiences can cause a person substantial distress. Burnout, depression, and psychosomatic disorders are particularly common outcomes of work-related stress. In general, individual distress manifests in three basic forms: psychological disorders, medical illnesses, and behavioral problems.

Psychological Disorders

Psychosomatic disorders are a type of psychological disorder. They are physical problems with a psychological cause. For example, a person who is extremely anxious about public speaking might feel extremely nauseated or may find themselves unable to speak at all when faced with the prospect of presenting in front of a group. Since stress of this type is often difficult to notice, managers would benefit from carefully monitoring employee behavior for indications of discomfort or stress.

Medical Illnesses

Physiological reactions to stress can have a long-term impact on physical health. In fact, stress is one of the leading precursors to long-term health issues. Backaches, stroke, heart disease, and peptic ulcers are just a few physical ailments that can arise when a person is under too much stress.

Behavioral Problems

A person can also exhibit behavioral problems when under stress, such as aggression, substance abuse, absenteeism, poor decision making, lack of creativity, or even sabotage. A stressed worker may neglect their duties, impeding workflows and processes so that the broader organization slows down and loses time and money. Managers should keep an eye out for such behaviors as possible indicators of workplace stress.

Organizational Effects of Stress

Stress in the workplace can be, so to speak, “contagious”—low job satisfaction is often something employees will discuss with one another. If stress is not noted and addressed by management early on, team dynamics can erode, hurting the social and cultural synergies present in the organization. Ultimately, the aggressive mentality will be difficult to remedy.

Managers are in a unique position when it comes to workplace stress. As they are responsible for setting the pace, assigning tasks, and fostering the social customs that govern the work group, management must be aware of the repercussions of mismanaging and inducing stress. Managers should consistently discuss job satisfaction and professional and personal health with each of their subordinates one on one.

Causes of Stress

Read on to learn why you get stressed out, and how that stress might be affecting your health.

Causes of Stress

Causes of work stress include:

  • Being unhappy in your job
  • Having a heavy workload or too much responsibility
  • Working long hours
  • Having poor management, unclear expectations of your work, or no say in the decision-making process
  • Working under dangerous conditions
  • Being insecure about your chance for advancement or risk of termination
  • Having to give speeches in front of colleagues
  • Facing discrimination or harassment at work, especially if your company isn’t supportive

Life stresses can also have a big impact. Examples of life stresses are:

  • The death of a loved one
  • Divorce
  • Loss of a job
  • Increase in financial obligations
  • Getting married
  • Moving to a new home
  • Chronic illness or injury
  • Emotional problems (depressions, anxiety, anger, grief, guilt, low self-esteem)
  • Taking care of an elderly or sick family member
  • Traumatic event, such as a natural disaster, theft, rape, or violence against you or a loved one

Organizational Stressors:

Organizational stressors may relate to task demands, physical demands, role demands, or inter-personal demands.

1. Task demands are stressors associated with the specific task or job the person is performing. Some occupations are naturally more stressful than others.

2. Physical demands are stressors associated with the job setting. Environ­mental temperatures, poorly designed offices, and threats to health can lead to stress.

3. Role demands are stressors associated with a particular position in a group or organization. Examples are role ambiguity and the various role conflicts that people experience in groups.

4. Inter-personal demands are stressors associated with the characteristics of the relationships that confront people in organizations. Examples are group pressure, personality style, and leadership style.

Stress and Burnout:

Burnout is a general feeling of exhaustion that may develop when an individual simultaneously experiences too much pressure and too few sources of satisfaction. The effects of burnout are mostly, constant fatigue and feelings of frustration and helplessness.

Individual Approaches to Managing Stress:

People have different ways of managing stress. One way is exercise. Another method is relaxation. Individuals can use time-management techniques to help them manage time. Role management can be used to avoid role overload, ambiguity, and conflict. Finally, people can manage stress by developing and maintaining support groups.

Organizational Approaches to Managing Stress:

Organizations have a vested interest in helping their employees manage stress. Firms can use institutional programmes and wellness programmes. Institutional efforts to manage stress are based on established organizational mechanisms. Organizations can redesign especially stressful jobs, rearrange work schedules, and eliminate rotating shifts.

Also, the organizational culture can help manage stress. Wellness programmes are specifically created to help individuals deal with stress. Stress management programmes, health promotion programmes, and other kinds of programmes can be made a part of an organization’s wellness focus. Career-development programmes can help minimize stress by showing managers clearly, where they are in their careers at present and where they would like to be. While developing any type of stress-management programme, managers need to balance the costs and benefits.

Employee Counselling:

Everything you need to know about employee counselling. Employee counselling has emerged as the latest HR tool to attract and retain the best employees and increase the quality of the workforce.

In today’s fast-paced corporate world, there is virtually no organization free of stress or has employees who are stress-free.

The employees can be stressed, depressed, suffering from too much anxiety arising out of workplace related issues like managing deadlines, meeting targets, lack of time to fulfill personal and family commitments, or bereaved and disturbed due to some personal problems.

Employee counselling is a psychological technique and that is used in various forms. The main objective of it is to support the employees by providing them advice, guidance, suggestions to solve the prevailing problems and improve physical and mental conditions, performance and which can take many forms. It is conducted with problem-solving approach by supervisors, managers or consultants.

Employee Counselling – Introduction 

The present time is very uncertain can it is very difficult to perform the task as per the requirements in different sphere of life. Personal life is full of struggle and a lot of efforts are put to meet the day-to­day need of individual and life. Job opportunities are not much, inflation is very high, needs and expectations are increasing, and tough competition is being faced.

The situation becomes very difficult for everyone in present time. Counselling is very old in our society and with the present situation it has become necessary in different areas. In every-day life parents counsel their children, doctors counsel their patients, teachers counsel their students and supervisors counsel their subordinates for better working. Everyone is interested to solve the problems and live happily, perform better and get good results so that the life becomes prosperous.

For some of the jobs an individual is in a position to perform and meet the need of the self and dependent. Some of the needs are not fulfilled because the individual is not in a position to understand or perform due to lack of ability. He is under pressure due to various reasons. This situation continues and leads to stress and finally it adversely affect the individual psychology, health, performance and personal life.

Similarly, the situation prevails in an organisation and industry. The situation is very competitive due to globalization and entry of multinational companies in various markets. It is matter of survival, growth and excellence in the business activities. Every organisation is trying its best to give better products, services and performance so that it can enjoy better position in the business.