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What Are Organizational Stressors?

Jan 4th 2016 at 9:12 PM

Organizational stressors are generally categorized into 5 categories: task, role, and interpersonal demands; organization structure; and organizational leadership.

  • Task: Task demands are factors related to an employee’s job. They include the design of a person’s job (autonomy, task variety, degree of automation), working conditions, and the physical work layout. Work quotas can put pressure on employees when their “outcomes” are perceived as excessive. The more interdependence between an employee’s tasks and the tasks of others, the more potential stress there is. Autonomy, on the other hand, tends to lessen stress. Jobs in which temperatures, noise, or other working conditions are dangerous or undesirable can increase anxiety. So, too, can working in an overcrowded room or in a visible location where interruptions are constant.

  • Role: Role demands relate to pressures placed on an employee as a function of the particular role he or she plays in the organization. Role conflicts create expectations that may be hard to reconcile or satisfy. Role overload is experienced when the employee is expected to do more than time permits. Role ambiguity is created when role expectations are not clearly understood and the employee is not sure what he or she is to do.

  • Interpersonal demands: These demands are pressures created by other employees. Lack of social support from colleagues and poor interpersonal relationships can cause considerable stress, especially among employees with a high social need.

  • Organization structure: Organization structure can increase stress. Excessive rules and an employee’s lack of opportunity to participate in decisions that affect him or her are examples of structural variables that might be potential sources of stress.

  • Organizational leadership: It represents the supervisory style of the organization’s managers. Some managers create a culture characterized by tension, fear, and anxiety. They establish unrealistic pressures to perform in the short run, impose excessively tight controls, and routinely fire employees who don’t measure up. This style of leadership filters down through the organization and affects all employees.

Personal factors that can create stress include family issues, personal economic problems, and inherent personality characteristics. Because employees bring their personal problems to work with them, a full understanding of employee stress requires a manager to be understanding of these personal factors. Evidence also indicates that employees’ personalities have an effect on how susceptible they are to stress. The most commonly used labels for these personality traits are Type A and Type B.

The Type A personality is characterized by chronic feelings of a sense of time urgency, an excessive competitive drive, and difficulty accepting and enjoying leisure time. The opposite of Type A is the Type B personality. Type Bs never suffers from time urgency or impatience. Until quite recently, it was believed that Type As were more likely to experience stress on and off the job. A closer analysis of the evidence, however, has produced new conclusions. Studies show that only the hostility and anger associated with Type A behavior are actually associated with the negative effects of stress. And Type Bs are just as susceptible to the same anxiety-producing elements. For managers, what is important is to recognize that Type A employees are more likely to show symptoms of stress, even if organizational and personal stressors are low. To learn the techniques for recognizing various personalities and other managerial skills, one must browse LSBF for various management courses.


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