Job Stressors

Jobs Stressors refers to aspects of work that may invoke feelings of anxiety in a person. These are broken down into two groups, work-related job stressors and  people management related job stressors.

Work-related job stressors

  • Uncertainty of employment – a person may be on a contract and unable to perhaps apply for a housing loan or make long-term plans. Others may be aware that their job could be at risk as a result of an area review.

  • Control – an employee may have total responsibility for the outcome of their job but little or no control over the processes used or the resources allocated. This is a classic scenario for work stress.

  • Job content – the nature of the work itself can be stressful. For example if a person is in contact with the public and likely to be the recipient of abuse from angry or disgruntled consumers.

  • Workload – some areas may be under-resourced or have inefficient work systems in place. As a result staff may have a high workload. Most workers can cope with the pressure of high workload for reasonably short periods of time (such as at enrolment or exams). However when high workload is perceived as unrelenting, morale is eroded and job dissatisfaction develops.

  • Pace – in some jobs the pace of work is outside the control of the worker. A clear example is production line work. Some occupations at the University may be similar to this in as much as it may be impossible or very difficult for the worker to take a meal or toilet break.

  • Scheduling – in some positions the worker is not able to spread their workload evenly across the working day. The nature of the work may be stop-start and go against a worker’s natural work rhythm. For example, very little to do at the start of the day but a great rush approaching the end.

  • Social environment – obvious factors of this nature include overcrowded work environments or being required to work in isolation. The amount of stress derived from both these depends upon the individual. Another negative factor could arise when a person does not get on with or enjoy working with another staff member and rotation is not possible.

  • Physical environment – aspects of the physical environment that could contribute toward stress include poor ergonomics, bad lighting, high noise levels, dust, poor air circulation and extreme heat or cold, etc.

Management-related job stressors

  • Change management – successful change management is an important management skill. Staff should be consulted in the early stages of the process. At every phase they should be given a realistic picture of what is to be achieved, the processes involved and timeframes. When managed poorly, change can cause anxiety and low morale.

  • Supportive supervision – supportive supervisors will praise staff  for good work, rather than only speaking to them when they have performed poorly. Discussion of performance errors should always include strategies for improvement and a review of progress.

  • Role definition – lack of clarity of a person’s role, boundaries or who should give them orders, can lead to anxiety when conflicts occur. Staff should be encouraged to seek clearer definition of their role, particularly if the role is new or they are new to the area or organisation.

  • Feedback – this should be given whenever appropriate. This is most effective when it is provided as soon as possible after the event. As mentioned above, feedback should be provided for good as well as bad performance. Some managers ‘sandwich’ positive and negative feedback to lessen . Negative feedback should also include suggestions to remedy shortcomings.

  • Participation –  staff morale is higher when staff are encouraged to work as a team. High morale is often linked to high job satisfaction. Team-building is an important skill for managers to utilise.

  • Development – for some staff members the absence of opportunities to develop their skills and knowledge at work can cause frustration. This can also reduce morale.