Job 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 needs of the worker (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, US Department of Health and Human Services).
Factors leading to Job stress
- Conflict between one’s own values and organizational role requirement (self role distance). e.g. many marketing personnel are expected to promote products by making false claims and promises which may be in conflict with the individuals own ethics and values.
- Lack of clarity about one’s role (role ambiguity).
- Non availability of resourcesto perform work role (resource inadequacy).
- Lack of knowledge / skill to perform an assigned task (personal inadequacy).
- Few opportunitiesfor learning and growth (role stagnation).
- Family vs. profession (inter-role distance).
- Over expectations (role overload). e.g. Robin Williams is the marketing manager of an electronics firm. A star performer in the field of marketing, he has an aptitude and interest towards product design and post marketing surveillance. Well aware of these qualities of Robin, the director asks Robin to play an active role in new product development along with his current marketing functions. The result : Excess responsibilities on Robin leading to distress.
- One’s job responsibility handed over to other person (role erosion).
- Conflicting demands from different superiors (role expectations conflict).
- Office politics.
- Lack of power.
- Poor interpersonal relationship.
- Strenuous working conditions.
- Job insecurity.
- Poor remuneration.
- Unhealthy / excessive competition among co-workers.
- Change in equation with colleagues.
- Job design and technical problems.
- Lack of participation of top management.
- Lack of responsiveness of superiors.
- Excessive bureaucracy / red tapism.
Counteracting Job stress
- Analyzing the problem Whenever you are facing a situation or a problem that is causing dystress, a critical analysis of the problem may help you plan out a strategy that may resolve the problem and ease out stress. If resolving the problem is beyond your control, then it is very important to manage the stress levels so as to prevent any physiological and psychological problems. A combination of physical and mental relaxation techniques will be of extreme help.
- Application of proper management techniques We routinely encounter lots of distressing situations in our professional life which can be easily avoided or managed through proper management techniques like time management, workflow management etc. If the critical analysis of the problem (step 1) suggests incorporation of a management technique, it is always advisable to implement the same in order to ease out the current situation and also avoid such situations in future.
- If you feel you are being stressed out as a result of excessive work pressure, lack of clarity about work, non availability of proper resources, improper appreciation of work, then it is best to discuss out the situation with your boss / Head of Department and arrive at a practical solution.
- Acquiring alternative interest Whether the stressful situation is in control or not, we need to manage the levels of stress we are subjected to. At times, the stressor seems to dominate our thought process and to some extent our physical functions. It is of utmost importance to distract our thoughts and this is precisely where an alternative interest comes in handy. Involvement in a sporting activity, hobby, art and literature etc. acts as a medium for relaxation.
- Discussing your problems with a close friend may help in easing out stress.
- A vacation with family members goes a long way in reducing stress.
Maintaining better family relationships There are many times we experience extreme amounts of stress when we leave office but a nice chat shared over a cup of coffee with family members or the dinner outing seems to wash away all the tensions leaving us feeling fresh. At times, the family itself add’s on to the stressful situation specially when we are unable to balance our family life with our professional responsibilities. Such situations can be dramatically improved by little bit of effort towards maintaining better family relationships