Determinants of Job Stress

Preface This book was written under the assumption that not all things are created equal. So my high passion for research, made me to translate this document while adding other aspects from my research on so as to assist Master 1 Management students in the University of Yaounde II-Soa to make an easy pass in Psychophysiology.

Cognisant to the fact that job stress is a major challenge worldwide to workers, this handbook comes to alleviate and awake the blindness of Managers and workers who still neglect the causes of stress in the professional milieu and its adverse effects in the enterprise.This exposure also tries to provide an answer plan on the theme while ignoring statistical data’s, which can be carried out on a later stage by students interested to further their studies on Psychophysiology. CONTENT ? INTRODUCTION ? ORIGINS OF TERM « STRESS» ? WHAT IS JOB STRESS? ? WHAT CAUSES JOB STRESS IN THE PROFESSIONAL MILIEU (CAMEROON CONTEXT)? 1.

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Workers who are stressed are likely to be unhealthy, poorly motivated, less productive and less safe at work. Hence this makes it difficult for their organisations to be successful in the competitive market.Stress being perceived under the work domain remains a major preoccupation to conscious managers as it influences the competence and behavior of human resource personnel’s constituting the organisation, their motivation and their contributions to attain the objectives of the organisation. Stress can be brought about by pressures at home and at work. Employers cannot usually protect workers from stress arising outside work, but they can protect them from stress that arises through work.Stress at work can be a real problem to the organisation as well as to its workers.

Good management and good work organisation are the best forms of stress prevention. If employees are already stressed their managers will be aware of it and know how to help. ORIGINS OF TERM « STRESS» According to the European Agency of health security at work (2002), stress arises when there is disequilibrium between the perception that a person have following the constrains imposed on him by his environment and the perception of using his own resources to face these constrains.In 1963, Pieron, identified stress to aggressions or violent actions exercised on an organism moving from electrical to emotional choc or acute frustration. Also, the term « STRESS» may refer to the response of a human organism to factors of physiological and psychological aggression (Hans Seyle, 1956), stress only found its place in management sciences at the end of the 70’s (Gamassou 2004), following the research carried out by some American social psychologists on the “Burn-out” concept which was later considered true by Edelwish and Brodsky (1980) as the ultimate phase of degradation process caused by stress.

Following studies carried out by the international labour office, job stress is on a constant increase and this increase has caused European and Nord Americans enterprises to consider it as a new major risk to which we are faced with. In Africa and notably in Cameroon, when the necessity to reinvigorate human resources seems to be well perceived by many managers, stress management on the other hand remains strangely sibylline and practically excluded from the framework of challenges managers have to overcome in order to increase competivity of the enterprise in a very unstable or turbulent environment.WHAT IS JOB STRESS? Work-related stress is the response people may have when presented with work demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope. Stress occurs in a wide range of work circumstances but it is often made worst when employees feel they have little support from supervisors and colleagues and where they have little control over work and they can cope with its demands and pressures. Pressure and Stress: There is often confusion between Pressure or challenge and stress and sometimes it is used to excuse bad management practices.Pressure at the workplace is unavoidable due to demands of the contemporary work environment. Pressure perceived as acceptable by an individual, may even keep workers alert, motivated, able to work and learn depending on the available resources personal characteristics.

However when that pressure becomes excessive or otherwise unmanageable it leads to Stress. Stress results from a mismatch between the demands and pressures on the person and on the one hand, their knowledge and abilities, on the other hand.It challenges their ability to cope with work. This includes not only situations where the pressures of work exceeds the worker’s ability to cope but also where the worker’s knowledge and abilities are not sufficiently utilised and that is a problem for them. Despite the preoccupations of personnel’s at work, some managers are still silent to all these challenges, which they see as a taboo and this leaves their enterprises out of any investigations of job stress. WHAT CAUSES STRESS IN THE PROFESSIONAL MILIEU (CAMEROON CONTEXT)?Faced with the strange blindness of these managers, it then becomes important to find answers to preoccupations which affect the personnel’s, this then give rise to 2 fundamental problematic: • What are the determinants of stress in the professional milieu? • How to mitigate the adverse effects? To answer these questions will mean providing an answer plan on the theme: > To provide an answer plan for this theme we will require a methodology.

This methodology has 3 successive steps; – The Introduction (Obligatory) – The Body (Obligatory) – The Conclusion (optional) ? INTRODUCTIONThe introduction is the first and most indispensable exercise. It is compulsory and consists of three main steps which include: • A summary of facts (definition of stress/origins) • Raising the problematic (Determinants/Adverse effects) • The announcement of the Plan For the Examiner to be interested in the body, the introduction must be very seductive so as to attract the examiner. A good introduction implies good marks while a poor one insinuates a poor mark. There are 6 items very essential in the introduction namely; ? The putting in place of the question ? The definition of key words The delimitation of the scope ? The problematic ? The interest of the question ? The announcement of the plan. We shall therefore in an attempt to respond to the aforementioned theme envisage in (I) what are the determinants of stress in the professional milieu? and in (II) how to mitigate the adverse effects? (The announcement of the plan) ? THE BODY This is where the candidate has to exigate his understanding of the question given to him. Thus after the announcement of the plan in the introduction, the candidate should skip at least a line of hisher answer sheet to start the body of the work.The following trend or schema is a detailed outline of how the of the work should look like; I- A- 1- 2- 3- 4- B- 1- 2- 3- II- A- 1- 2- 3- B- 1- 2- 3- 4- 5- ? Conclusion It is an overture or opening of a new debate and it is optional or facultative.

Thus from the above question this is what it looks like; I. What are the determinants of stress in the professional milieu? Faced with a strange blindness some managers are cut up in stress due to their poor work organisation, that is, the way they design jobs and work systems can cause work stress.Excessive and otherwise unmanageable demands and pressures can be caused by poor work design, poor management and unsatisfactory working conditions. All these elements are seen as determinants of stress for which two orientations will help us to explain them. They are; A.

Analysis of the theoretical origins of stress in the Professional Milieu. The term job stress or occupational stress is generally applied to design the state of stress of man at work. Work stress was studied according principal distinct approaches (Gamassou, 2002): The American School of behavioral tradition, positivist in its epistemological positioning and rather quantitativist in its methods and the French school inscribed in a current drawing from the works carried out in psycho-analysis such as and psycho-dynamism of work. Numerous investigations where being effectuated by several researchers trying to provide insights into the psychosocial factors of aggression and symptoms of work stress (Mclean, 1974; Cooper and Marshall, 1976, Cox and Mackay, 1981; Sharit and Salvendy, 1982; Cooper, 1985; Cox, 1987).Certain comparative studies instead tried to characterise the specificity of stress induced by different professional activities (Caplan and al. , 1975) and to propose diverse solutions to reduce the factors of stress and ameliorate the capacity of individual adaptation to working conditions (Mclean and al.

, 1978). We shall then present and analyse below the theoretical models explaining the phenomenon A. 1. Selye and the General Adaptation Syndrome Dr.Hans Seyle studied the first stress phenomena and specified in 1956 the concept of .

According to him, the human body only has a limited capacity to respond to stress, which is very important from the medical viewpoint. An excess of stress over a long time period ends up by exhausting the resistance capacity of stress agents. In his model, Seyle instead adopted a biomedical stress approach, which puts to evidence its physiological bases and gives an objective support to the relation between stress and health.If the effects of stress are good, challenging and allows a good adaptation of the subject, we talk of eustress (good stress, positive stress or motivating stress), if they are instead bad and causes damages to the individuals we then talk of distress (bad stress, negative stress or inhibitive stress). From a previous contribution the (1979), the author suggests that faced with a stressful stimulus, the organism reacts in three phases: this is the triptych of general syndrome known under the name or (S.

G. A) syndrome generale d’adaptation.The different phases are as follows: • Alarm or Alert reaction From a confrontation with the situation assessed as stressful, hormones are liberated by the organism via the adrenal medulla: catecholamine’s (80% adrenaline and 20% noradrenalin). These hormones have as effect to increase the cardiac frequency, blood pressure, the level of vigilance, body temperature, and to provoke a vasodilatation of the muscular vessels.

All these modifications have as goal to prepare the organism to combat or to flee. • Resistance If the stressful situation persists, the organism enters into a phase of resistance.A second neurohormonal axis (or corticotropic axis) is activated, hence preparing the organism for energetic loss which will necessitate the response to stress. New hormones, glucocorticoids are secreted increasing sugar levels in the blood to supply the energy necessary to the muscles, heart and brain while maintaining a constant glucose level. Glucocorticoids have the particularity of halting their own secretion by retroaction; the quantity liberated in the blood is detected by receptors of the central nervous system that adapts the secretion. It is hence a self regulatory system. Exhaustion Exhaustion appears when the system can no longer adapt to stimulus or still when the mechanisms of the phases above are insufficient and the capacity of the organism overflows, this phase is characterised by essentially by a hyper-stimulation of the corticotropic axis: the retroactive loop mentioned above becomes inefficient, the receptors of the central nervous system becomes less sensitive to glucocorticoids which constantly increases in circulation. The organism is submerged with activative hormones capable of causing harm to health.

As a critic to this model, we may note the mechanist stimulus-response type developed by Seyle also have its own explicative limits, in particular sine the psychic dimension of the individual is not taken into account (Gamassou, 2004). A. 2. The Turcotte Model Turcotte (1983) developed a model in which, contrary to Seyle, he integrates a complete definition of stress incorporating subjective, cognitive, physical effects and relative to behaviors. For him, professional and organisational stress supposes the existence of organisational factors, but more contextual and personal factors have to be taken into account or consideration.The model can be schematise as follows; Source: Turcotte This model show the importance of contextual or personal factors insists on the mental and physical capacity of the individual, according to that capacity is exceeded or not following the pressures exercised by the different stressful factors. The environment then emits sources of stress (perturbations). The individual who has a good tolerance for stress (mental and physical capacities not exceeded) could adapt and instead have a positive stress which will lead to sef-realisation.

On the other hand he may not be able to adapt if his mental and physical capacities are exceeded. In this case, the symptoms of stress then appear (negative stress). A.

3. The Karasek Model The mental tension model presented by Karasek (1979) in his founding article is situated after Gamassous (2004) in a transactional approach even though it was inscribed in an interactional approach where the characteristics of the workers, work functions and their interactions are taken into account.This model essentially used in epidemiological studies on work stress, presents the advantage of proposing an explanation of work stress while meeting two types of factors of stress: – Psychological demand associated to the constrains linked to the task (quantity, complexity, time constrain etc): – The decisional latitude which recovers on one part the control we have on our work that’s to say the more or less autonomy we have in the organisation of tasks and the participation in decision taking, and on the other part using his competencies: possibility of using his qualifications, capacity to develop new competencies, the meeting of 2 characteristics permitting to define 4 situations of work (see diagram below).

| |Psychological demand | | | | | |Decisional | | | |latitude | | | | | |Low |high | | |Low |Passive work e. g. |Very Restrictive work, | | | |night-watch, monitoring |e. g. waiters, | | | |personnel’s |receptionists etc | | |high |Less Restrictive work e. g.

|Active work e. g. | | |researcher |medicines, leaders of | | | | |e/se, farmers. | Source: Karasek R. A,” Job demands, job decision latitude and mental strain; implication for job redesign”.

The situation exposing more on stress in this model is the fact that it combines at a time a high psychological demand and a low decisional latitude. It is important to note that a third dimension was introduced in the model. It concerns social support at work (socio-emotional and technical support) from colleagues and hierarchical personnel which lessens the disequilibrium (psychological demand/decisional latitude).A situation combining both a high psychological demand and a low decisional latitude (overloaded work), is better supported if the person is sustained or can count on his professional entourage. Baudelot and Gollac (2003) brought forward the results of their investigations on work and happiness from those obtained by Karasek theoretical and methodological approach. They arrived at a result for which the dynamic situations (high psychological demand/decisional latitude) are close to what they called that’s the situation of those investing themselves more in their professional activity and achieve important psychological gains (eventually material) corresponding as to them to a withdrawal that’s to say the situation for those for which work doesn’t procure happiness but a source of visible misfortune (Baudelot and Gollac, 2003).The situations of overloading (high psychological demands and low decisional latitudes) corresponding to what they called >. Karasek proposes in his model that increase in work constrains should be counterbalanced by a higher autonomy.

A. 4. The Transactional Model of Lazarus and Folkman The transactional model of stress proposed by these authors (1984) lays emphasis on the evaluation of the situation that’s to say on the mental activity (cognitive) of the person in situation of stress. This method said to be of is based on their definition of stress 1984 and which centers on the neo-behaviorist conception where it is considered that there is a reciprocal modification of the individual and his context.

The process of stress is then conceived as a juxtaposition of mediating variables in action under the influence of independent variables (dispositional and situational) and producing consequences more or less harmful to health. The principal mediating variables are stress perceived, conceived as a special relation between the person and the environment, control perceived which reposes on an evaluation relative to a threat and personal resources and the capacity to confront (coping), defined as a stable predisposition to respond to stress in a particular manner. In effect if we hold to their definition: Stress does not reside neither in the situation nor in the individual but in a transaction between the individual and the situation. What causes stress is the particular relation between the individual and his environment.The model is presented as follows: |Primary (Perceive stress) |Secondary (perceive control) | |Does the situation comprises a | | |stake/ challenge for me? |What then can I do? | |If yes, is it; | | |A loss |Is it possible for me to | |A threat |intervene, to change something to | |A challenge |the situation, taking into account| | |my resources? | Centered on the problem Centered on emotions Source: Lazarus and folkman, stress, appraisal and coping. Face with a situation posing him problems, the person first of all evaluates the stakes of these problems: Does it represent a loss, threat, challenge?This has to do with stress perceived (or primary evaluation).

He evaluates thereafter the resources he has to react, respond and eventually intervenes on the situation at hand. It concerns control perceived (o secondary evaluation). This double evaluation will then determine the response orientations vis-a-vis the situation of stress. We then talk of or stress adjustments (coping). These coping strategies could be orientated towards the resolution of the problem (research solutions, better organization, demand of assistant from colleagues etc) or still towards the management of emotions generated by stress (express anger, or still inhibit, ruminate mistakes etc) .The examination of the models above we described permitted us to understand that the factors of stress linked to the professional context are diverse and evolves at the same time as the work world. These factors may be regrouped into 5 main categories; the factors linked to the content of work, factors linked to the organisation of work, factors linked to work relations, factors linked to the physical and technical environment of work and those linked to the pertinence of stress in the context of Cameroonian enterprises necessitates it to be explained by a methodology approach. B.

The Methodological Approach Adopted. The methodological approach here will consist of describing the sample, on which the investigation was based, the instruments of measurement of stress likewise the statistics used. B. 1. Characteristics of the SampleThe investigation was effectuated with the help of a questionnaire conceived to be filled during an interview with the employees.

The major characteristics of a sample to note here will be the duration of the investigation, the areas of investigation e. g. (Douala, Yaounde etc), number of exploitable questionnaires, the category of workers interviewed, sector of activity, sex etc. In addition to these characteristics we also have to calculate from the elements above the rate of response, rate of experienced workers more than 5years and those less than 2 years.

The sex percentage and the percentage of the category of workers. B. 2. The Measure of Stress and the type of Personality Numerous scales already approved exist to measure the state of stress. We can ention amongst others the questionnaire of the Middlesex hospital used by Cooper (1984) measuring mental health, the job satisfaction scale (Caplan, 1975) permitting to measure the in-satisfaction at work. , Cooper’s job stress questionnaire, 1981 measuring the level of professional stress.

The sources of stress were being measured following from an instrument composed of 26 items adapted by Hellriegel and al. (1992) and Cooper Marshal (1979). The reliability of internal coherence was measured with the Alpha of Cronbach which has to be greater or equal to 0. 6. (See table no 1: sources and measures of work stress page 265 by Jean Douanla). The variable was measure by a nominal scale via 3 categories: be it or not stressful corresponding to a positive stress, stressful and an advanced state of stress.

Those considered to be in a positive stress state are those declared to be undecided, disagrees on the set of 24 symptoms felt when ever we are stressed up and which affects the mental and physical health on professional in- satisfaction and on organisational symptoms. The persons in the state of stress are those who declared being in accord with the set of items proposed meanwhile those in the situation of advanced stress are those who agreed on the set of manifestations of stress subjected to. As to the measure of the type of personality, we have regrouped in type A, supposed to be exposed to stress, persons having acknowledged that the 15 propositions formulated for the circumstance was or > in their case. B. 3. The Statistics Methods Used.To identify the agents of stress, the nature of the categorical variables present have orientated us mainly towards the methods of factorial analysis and notably that of; the factorial analysis of multiple correspondences (AFCM). The determination of the number of factors to take into consideration is done from the rule of minimum restitution, which permitted us to archive the first 5 factors for a restitution rate of 70.

02% as shown by the histogram on graph no 1: (histogram of the first 10 real values. See page 266 by Jean Douanla). II. How to mitigate the adverse effects? A. The Prevention of Work Stress There are a number of ways by which the risk of work stress can be reduced. These include: A. 1.

Primary Prevention It reduces stress through: • Ergonomics, • Work and Environmental design, • Organisational and Management Development A. 2. Secondary Prevention It reduces stress through: • Worker education and training, and A.

3. Tertiary Prevention It reduces the impact of stress by: • Developing more sensitive and responsible management systems and enhanced occupational health provision. A good employer designs and manages work in a way that avoids common risk factors for stress and prevents as much as possible foreseeable problems. B. Solving Work Problems Related Problems They are various strategies to solve work stress problems: B. 1.

Work Redesign The best strategies for work redesign focus on demands, knowledge and ability, support and control and include: • Changing the demands of work • Ensure that employees develop the appropriate knowledge and abilities to perform their jobs effectively • Improve employees’ control over the way the do their work. • Increase the amount and quality of support they receive. B. 2. Stress Management Training • Ask employees to attend classes on relaxation, time management, and assertiveness training or exercise. B. 3. Ergonomics and Environmental Design • Improve equipment use at work and physical working conditions.

B. 4. Management Development Improve managers’ altitude towards dealing with stress, their knowledge and understanding of it and their skills to deal with the issue as effectively as possible. B. 5. Organisational Development • Implement better work and management systems. Develop a more friendly and supportive culture. THE EFFECTS OF JOB STRESS A.

On Individuals: Stress affects different people in different ways. The experience of work stress can cause unusual and dysfunctional behavior at work and contribute to poor physical and mental health. In extreme cases, long term stress or traumatic events at work may lead to psychological problems and be conductive to psychiatric disorders resulting in the absence from work and preventing the worker from being able to work again.

When affected by work stress people may: – Become increasingly distressed and irritable – Become unable to relax or concentrate – Have difficulty thinking logically and making decisions – Enjoy their work less and feel less committed to it – Fell tired, depressed, anxious – Have difficulty sleeping – Experience serious physical problems such as: ? Heart disease, ? Disorders of the digestive system, ? Increase in blood pressure, headaches, ? Musculo – skeletal disorders such as low back pain and upper limb disorders. B. On Organisations: If a key staff or a number of workers are affected, work stress may challenge the healthiness and the performance of their Organisation.Unhealthy Organisations do not get the best from their workers and this may affect not only their performance in the increasingly competitive market but eventually even their survival Work stress is thought to affect Organisations by: – Increasing absenteeism – Decreasing commitment to work – Increasing staff turnover – Impairing performance and productivity – Increasing unsafe working practices and accident rates. – Increasing complaints from clients – Adversely affecting staff recruitment – Increasing liability to legal claims and actions by stressed workers – Damaging the Organisation’s image both amongst its workers and externally. SYMPTOMS OF STRESS There exist many symptoms of work stress, for which can be classified into 3 categories: Physical symptoms |Emotional and Mental |Behavioral Symptoms | | |Symptoms | | | | | | |-Muscular tensions |-Agitation |-The negative perception of| |-Digestive Problems |-Irritation |the reality | |-Sleeping or appetite |-Indecision |-disorgainsation | |problems |-Worries |-Difficulty in relations | |-Headaches |-Anxiousness |-Absenteeism | |-Dizziness |-lack of happiness |-Isolation tendencies | |-Shortness of |-Melancholy |-Abuse of the television | |Breath |-loss of libido |-increased consumption of | |-Fatigue |-difficulty to |tobacco, caffeine, sugar, | | |concentrate |chocolate, alcohol, drugs. | | |-low self-esteem |-Avoiding very demanding | | | |situations. | | | | | CONCLUSION The objective of this work was to identify the causes of stress in the Cameroonian professional milieu given the extent of the phenomena.

The interest in such a study resides in the fact that the knowledge of potential factors of work stress permits to intervene to avoid, eliminate or mitigate (ease) their action.The results of the different investigations serve as prove to the extent of this phenomenon. It is also important to make evaluations on symptoms faced by those interviewed at the moment of investigation for which most of them where organisational symptoms (absenteeism, mostly observed in the public sectors and accidents at work for workers in the private sector) We may also note for the second group, the evident presence of professional in-satisfaction characterised by a lack of motivation and implication at work. Those manifesting the all of symptoms (mental health, physical health, professional in-satisfaction and organizational symptoms), but in non alarming proportions.It is clear from this research that job stress results essentially from the interaction between working conditions and the personality of the individual.

However it should be noted that stress factors do no react in the same way from working environment and personality of the individual. For example the characteristics of the task (repetitive work, monotonous, absence of autonomy, etc) considered as veritable causes of stress, occurs to almost all the employees in the sample as minor stress or exercising no influence on the state of the employee. It is also the same with the quality of relationship with persons outside the enterprise and the ambiguity of the role presented by both being very susceptible to generate work stress (Wisner, 1981; Pratt and Barling, 1988).However, virtually all the other factors linked to the professional milieu such as work charge, physical environment of work, and certain organisational factors proved to be chronic stress ors in the Cameroonian professional milieu.

To prevent job stress the measures put in place should aim at reducing or totally eliminating stress factors and to reduce emotional tensions of the individual. Sharit and Salvendiy (1982) suggest measures of both organisational and psychological forms based on the ergonomic analysis of the professional activity. Moreover an ergonomic conception of the professional activity, an enlargement and enrichment of tasks may lead contribute valuably to the prevention of stress at the professional milieu, even though the enrichment of tasks could influence the production flow.To ameliorate the psychosocial environment and reduce psychic stress or still psychophysiology stress some authors mentions the participation of the workers to the decisions at work, the encourage for the hierarchy and social support from colleagues.

As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. ~Proverbs 23:7 ———————– THE UNIVERSITY OF YAOUNDE II FACULTY OF ECONOMICS AND MANAGEMENT P. O BOX 1365 Determinants of JOB stress in the Cameroonian context OPTION: MASTER’S 1 (GESTION) Produced BY OLIVER LAFEN [email protected] com 76655032 Exceeded GLORIOUS PRODUCTIONS Individual Capacities Inadaptation Alienation Environ. Demandes (Pertubations) Creative Adaptation Positive stress (self-realisation) Negative stress (symptoms of stress) Adaptation Strategies ———————– 3

Author: Elsie Lawrence


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