Stress in the Workplace

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Ashley Jones
Final Paper: Stress in the workplace
June 18, 2012
BUS 318: Organizational Business
Instructor: Gary Priest

Final Paper: Stress in the workplace
Organizational behavior is the study of individuals and their behavior within an organized work environment. Many different facets of the business world make up organizational behavior including: motivation, personality, leadership, communication, and so much more. However, I plan to focus on the topic of stress within organizational behavior. Depending on how it is handled stress can be both positive and negative. However, when it is not recognized and handled properly stress can cause serious problems. Throughout this paper I will not only define what stress is but also will identify some of the causes of stress. I believe that stress in the work place is one of the most destructive things that could happen to the individual and to the company as a whole. However, by knowing what causes stress we can combat the affects of stress by reducing and preventing the stress in our lives.

“Three out of every four American workers describe their work as stressful. And the problem is not limited to these shores. In fact, occupational stress has been defined as a "global epidemic" by the United Nations' International Labor Organization.” (Maxon, 1999) One of the first steps to minimizing stress is being able to truly identify what stress truly is. Stress is the “psychological state perceived by individuals when faced with demands, constraints, and opportunities that have important but uncertain outcomes.” (Milbourn, 2012) Especially with the state of our economy these past couple of years people are feeling the economic stress to some extent. The state of the economy is one of the many causes of stress. With so many companies downsizing, merging, or closing their doors completely people are feeling the stress of the economic recession. “Adding to the pressures that workers face are new bosses, computer surveillance of production, fewer health and retirement benefits, and the feeling they have to work longer and harder just to maintain their current economic status.” (American Psychological Association, 2012) As companies downsize the employees that are left are expected to shift to cover the jobs that their co-workers used to complete. This leaves many employees feeling ill prepared and untrained to accomplish their new tasks. The worker may begin to feel over-tasked. “Employees work more today than they did 25 years ago -- the equivalent of a 13th month every year. Staff are getting downsized but the work remains, so workloads are getting upsized." (Maxon, 1999) Job ambiguity is another cause of stress. “Job ambiguity refers to the lack of clarity surrounding a person’s job authority, responsibility, task demands, and work methods.” (Parr, 2011) Without clearly defined job descriptions workers begin to feel like they are unable to perform to their own standards as well as the standards of the company. Furthermore, without a clear definition of what is expected of them the worker won’t know how their work performance is going to be evaluated. This can cause them to receive a poor evaluation which can in turn cause them to get demoted, transferred, reprimanded, or even fired. I once got hired as a Human Resource Assistant. I had never worked in the HR department before and was hired more on who I knew than what skills or experience I had to offer. I cried every day for the first month I worked there because I felt inexperienced and out of place. I was given little to no direction or guidance on what was expected of me. My boss was hardly ever in the office and even when she was and I asked what I should be doing she offered little insight into what exactly my job was. Finally, someone gave me the number of the girl who had done the job before me and I was able to call her to ask her advice. I worked...
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