Work-Related Stress

Introduction

The most harmful effects of workplace stress include job satisfaction, organizational performance, and organizational commitment. Outcomes of stress include absenteeism, poor job performance, low morale, low commitment, increasing incidence of accidents, poor interpersonal relationships, among others.

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Stress is common in work environments, particularly in factories or workplaces where there are poor safety and security measures. Research studies are particularly interested in recommending stress coping mechanisms to alleviate job satisfaction and life satisfaction. Studies can draw recommendations from experience and long literature studies on stress. Coping with stress depends on the individual’s personality, coping style, and the stressors present in the environment. There are stressors that may be considered negative for some workers but might not be for others. Researchers should be able to examine the individual characteristics and the work environment when planning and introducing programs to deal with workplace stress. Intervention strategies differ in certain aspects, but the overall objective should be the realization of an effective environment conducive to the needs of all workers.

Working in hazardous situations, such as ship repair, affects both job satisfaction and psychological stress level (Motowidlo et al. as cited in Sunal et al., 2011, p. 267). Harbor workers, dock laborers, miners, and many other workers who handle heavy equipment and work in hazardous situations may encounter work stress situations when accomplishing their tasks. Dockworkers and ship-repair workers experience many dangerous responsibilities, such as steel fabrication, cutting, welding, loading and transferring of heavy equipment, etc. Physical dangers include temperature, weather, radiation, falls, and so on; while chemical hazards include dust, mineral fibers, paint chemicals, etc. (Sunal et al., 2011). These are hazards that cannot be avoided due to the nature of work. Blasting involves applying abrasive material on another surface. Sandblasting is applied on jean fabrics with the use of silica particles derived from plastic trunks (Sunal et al., 2011).

Researchers have related cardiovascular disease risk with workplace factors, like chemical hazards, carbon disulfide, carbon monoxide, methylene chloride, etc., and job stressors such as workload, too much physical activity, shift work (Chang et al.; Fransson et al.; Su et al.; Wada et al. as cited in Won et al., 2013). CVD risk factors are preventable through workplace changes. Employees of small firms have little or no access at all to health care programs.

Brief Review of the Literature

Workplace Stress and Performance

Workplace stress is an experience that results in a negative emotional state, which can be frustration, worry, anxiety, and depression. Stress occurs when an individual worker’s physical and emotional capacity cannot match with job demands, limitations, and prospects (Sunal, et al., 2011). The workplace has become a source of stress due to the introduction of new technology, company belt-tightening measures, heavy workload, organizational demand for greater productivity, severe competition, and an undetermined future (Sunal, 2011). Job satisfaction is a worker’s positive and negative feelings and behavior about the assigned job and has been shown to be related to several issues like job characteristics, relationships with peers, institutional factors (such as company policies, workplace safety, salary, etc.), workplace environments and situations (Sunal et al., 2011). Working environments are perceived as one of the most significant predictors of job satisfaction (Malek et al. as cited in Sunal et al., 2011). Situations that can create accidents and injuries in the workplace are significant stressors, for example, heavy loads, heavy and dangerous equipment and machines, noises, biological exposures, and other job-related hazards (Sunal et al., p. 266).

Construction workers working in dangerous environments have a greater risk of acquiring injury, and workers showing psychological distress are at greater risk of having near-miss accidents.

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Workplace Stress and Employee Motivation

Stress reduces employee motivation and causes poor health (Burque et al. as cited in Daniel, 2015). The study by Daniel focused on workplace spirituality (WS) to enhance motivation. Religion changes, personal transformation initiated in the workplace, and improvement in the standard of living contribute to workplace spirituality (Hicks as cited in Daniel, 2015). The WS phenomenon has become popular in organizations due to employees’ demand for autonomous work environments or organizations characterized by less bureaucracy. Fry (as cited in Daniel, p. 30) described the environment as “an organizational paradigm obsolete,” associated with the traditional, vertical, and top-bottom structure, and bureaucratic type of management. The phenomenon of spirituality is explained by the theory of humanocracy (Aldridge et al. as cited in Daniel, 2015) which states that employees tend to adapt to high levels of bureaucracy, which is also termed bureau-neurosis. It cannot be avoided but can be overcome if human needs within the organization are met. The theory of humanocracy explains that stress can be controlled with a sense of spirituality (Daniel, 2015). Moreover, there is a difference between religion and WS in that the former speaks of established belief whereas the latter is more on connectedness (Marques as cited in Daniel, p. 30). WS is also referred to as acknowledgment that workers have souls that are nourished by spiritual and meaningful work which occurs in the context of community.

Workplace Stress and Employee Productivity

Stress is the result of an imbalance between the worker and the workplace, and the worker’s inability to endure the obstacles and meet the demands of the job. Most of the time, workers encounter stressors that tend to accumulate if not well managed or released as waste from the physical and psychological faculties. The workplace environment is one major stressor. A survey conducted by the Building Owners and Managers Association International among building owners and managers in the US found that the indoor environment is considered a major stressor, which caused a low level of performance among employees in the facility (Roelofsen, 2012).

Employee productivity is defined as the employee’s ability to meet or exceed assigned tasks in using the tools, technologies, and procedures given (Phipps et al as cited in Campbell, 2015). Productivity is defined as “the increased functional and organizational performance, including quality” (Dorgan as cited in Roelofsen, 2012, p. 248). There is increased performance if there is less absenteeism and more quality production.

Workplace Stress and Employee Absenteeism

Stress causes absenteeism and reduces productivity (Ganster & Schaubroeck as cited in Daniel, 2014). Prolonged exposure to work stress deteriorates workers’ health, such as headaches, stomach aches, and other depressive symptoms causing absenteeism or presenteeism. If this is not well managed, it creates pressure on workers and their families (Kim et al. as cited in Prater & Smith, 2011). An employee practices presenteeism if he/she goes to work despite being ill, injured, or under stress, which results in lower productivity. Absenteeism is defined as the customary failure of an employee to attend work (Prater & Smith, 2011).

Depression is high among American youth and young adults, especially those aged 15 to 44 and 40 to 59 (Rankin as cited in Prater & Smith, 2011). Depression is a costly sickness for a country. For the U.S., it is about $83 billion annually, which is the cause of low productivity and workplace absenteeism (Rankin as cited in Prater & Smith, p. 2).

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Workplace Stress and Employee Retention or Job Satisfaction

Studies have found a correlation between workplace stress, or employees’ psychological wellbeing, and job satisfaction (Molloy et al. as cited in Griffiths, Baxter, & Townley-Jones, 2011). Employees’ access to support from managers and peers affect their job satisfaction level (McCalister et al. as cited in Griffiths et al., p. 42). Employees having lower stress levels were identified to have a feeling of control over some decision-making events (Griffiths, 2011). Social support contributes to the perceived physical and mental soundness of community health workers (Cox et al. as cited in Griffiths, p. 42). Workers are more satisfied in their jobs when they have autonomy and are not subdued by bureaucracy (Arches as cited in Griffiths).

The study of Griffiths et al. (2011) focused on job satisfaction and work stress among financial counselors in NSW Australia and examined factors related to financial counseling. They identified increasing workload as a significant predictor of work stress. This occurred when the financial counselors had received increasing demand for their services during deteriorating economic conditions.

Summary

The literature provides a background for an empirical study about workplace stress and how this affects several dependent variables, such as employee performance, motivation, productivity, absenteeism, and retention or job satisfaction.

The workplace can be a source of negative emotions because of negative experiences associated with the place. Some of the negative stressors include demands, limitations, and prospects. Competitive forces can cause a number of workplace stress, which rebounds to workers’ job satisfaction index. When a business keeps positively going, it can result in positive satisfaction for employees; but when the going gets tough, it will deliberately be negative for employees.

Working environments are one of the most significant stressors and management should take it as a precaution. Workplace stress can cost billions of dollars for the industry. The literature provides vast examples of stressful situations for workers. Construction workers, ship-repair workers, dockworkers, many blue-collar workers, work in dangerous environments which cause workplace stress. Other studies recorded a direct relationship between workplace stress and injuries in the construction industry Workplace stress is a significant indicator of other symptoms of anxiety and psychological distress (Sunal et al., p. 266).

Factors that affect worker productivity, aside from the working environment, include workplace stress, problems at home or personal relationships, excessive consumption of food or drink, and management style, among others.

Research Method

Research Technique

This study will be based on a Qualitative research design. The rationale for qualitative research is it tries to explain the target phenomenon, the core of the problem, and the nature, which is in contrast to the normal account provided in quantitative research where figures and numbers are given. Qualitative approaches provide human understanding and interpretation (Maxwell, 2013).

Qualitative research can capture what happens in the process of qualitative inquiry. Maxwell (2013) provides a clear strategy for qualitative research by describing five basic components, which guide the research process as an interactive one. These components are purpose/s, context, research questions, methods, and validity. The design is constructed such that there is the interaction among the components, which means that each part affects the others. If one component changes to content, the researcher has to find out how it affects the other components. This method will help the researcher think of the entire research from beginning to end.

The qualitative research design will aid in collecting substantial and relevant data from the individuals and the environments affected by the study. A qualitative research design provides the researcher an opportunity to adjust the research plan, hence enriching the collected data. This will be provided by the answers in the open-ended questions, which allow the respondents to express their views without restrictions.

Constructs

There is a recurring theme in qualitative research and this is the rigor versus relevance topic debate: although relevance is important in research, it must come through rigor or thoroughness. The most conventional criteria for evaluating methodological rigor are construct validity, internal validity, external validity, and reliability (Halldorsson & Asstrup; Riege; Yin as cited in Goffin et al., 2012).

Threats to Reliability and Validity

One of the issues involved in research is how to find and ensure that research findings are reliable and credible. This aspect can be achieved by focusing on the concepts of reliability and validity. Trustworthiness includes the steadiness of a dimension, while legitimacy refers to the reality of the data collected from the field. During the research process, it is imperative for researchers to consider three types of validity, which include instrument validity, external validity, and internal validity. On the other hand, legitimacy involves the extent to which the results of a particular work can be extrapolated or applied to the total research participants. Apparatus legitimacy refers to the applicability of the research tool in determining the intended aspects. Internal reliability involves the differences or relationships amongst the research variables under study.

The credibility of the study might be hindered by threats to validity and reliability. One of the major threats entails subject characteristics, which might arise from the diverse characteristics of the selected respondents. For example, some respondents might not reveal the truth. In a bid to control this threat, the researcher will gather detailed information regarding the subject characteristics. Secondly, reliability and validity might be affected by mortality, which means that some of the selected respondents might drop out of the research study. The study will be on a voluntary basis, thus individuals can leave the study at will, which increases the probability of mortality. This aspect might affect the researcher’s ability to collect the required data. This threat will be managed by sustaining comprehensive information on the subject characteristics. Consequently, the researcher will be in a position to replace the subject characteristics effectively and efficiently within a short duration in a bid to ensure continuity coupled with avoiding gaps in data collection. In addition to the above threats, the reliability and validity of the study might be affected by poor instrumentation such as data collector bias. The researcher may be biased due to personal characteristics. However, this threat will be eliminated by developing adequate knowledge on how to eliminate bias.

Sample Population

The population will be ship-repair workers and managers, and purposive sampling will be applied. Purpose sampling will collect data that will answer questions “how” and “why,” but now “how many” or “how much” which is what is done in quantitative research.

According to LeCompte and Preissle (as cited in Merriam, 2009), purposive sampling can also be called “criterion-based selection” since the process involves creating a list of attributes important to the study and then finding or locating an item matching the list. The established criteria directly correspond to the purpose of the study and lead to the information-rich cases (Merriam, 2009).

Sampling Technique

Sampling is of two types – probability and non-probability. In probability sampling, the researcher can generalize the findings of the study. However, generalization is not applicable in qualitative research; thus, non-probabilistic is the chosen method for this kind of research. Purposive sampling, which falls under the category of non-probabilistic, leads the researcher to answer questions beginning in “how” or “why,” but not how much or how many. Purposeful sampling is chosen because the researcher wants to find out, understand, and acquire knowledge and therefore must choose a sample to attain his/her purpose. The situation is like one in which a group of specialized medical doctors is consulted on a unique medical situation. These medical doctors, who comprise a purposive sample, possess a special qualification and are called in for their expert opinion, which is different from the average opinion of the rest of the medical profession. Patton (as cited in Merriam, 2009) argues that purposeful sampling can be very helpful for the researcher as long as he/she is able to select “information-rich cases,” wherein a great amount of information important to the research can be obtained. To embark on purposive sampling, this researcher must be able to determine the type of selection criteria important in choosing the respondents or place to be studied.

Type of data

In a bid to enhance the relevance of the study to the target shipyard workers, the researcher will ensure that the data collected is original. This goal will be achieved by collecting primary data, which will be obtained from the natural setting. Thus, a set of questions will be developed and used as the core data-collection instrument. The questions will be designed effectively and reviewed prior to being administered to the selected respondents.

By reviewing the questions, the likelihood of attaining a high response rate will be enhanced due to an effective understanding of the questions. Reviewing the questions will eliminate grammatical mistakes and ambiguity of the questions, which are critical determinants of the rate of response. Thus, the respondents will be given the freedom to answer the questions. Through this approach, the researcher will eliminate bias to satisfying levels.

Ethical Considerations

The researcher recognizes the fact that ethics comprises one of the cornerstones of a meaningful research study. Thus, optimal protection of the research respondents will be ensured by integrating effective ethical standards. First, the researcher will seek the respondents’ consent, which will be achieved by providing the target individuals with sufficient information on the purpose and the methods of the research methods. The researcher will plan and present the information concisely in order to enhance its relevance to the research participants. It will be explained that the respondents are at liberty to participate or not and the results of the study will only be for academic purposes. They will have the discretion to pull out of the research study at their own will without implications.

In addition to the above factors, the researcher will ensure that the selected respondents are provided with the necessary privacy, such as providing codes to their questionnaires instead of their real names. A high level of confidentiality will be provided, for example in reference to some information such as job title that the respondents might consider confidential.

The researcher acknowledges that the existence of suspicion amongst the target population might threaten the efficiency of collecting primary data. Suspicion is a major risk that affects primary methods of data collection. In a bid to dispel this risk, the researcher will seek the support of the Institutional Review Boards [IRBs]. A request for informed consent from the Board can enhance trust and ensure respondents’ willingness to participate in the research.

Data Handling

The researcher will ensure that integrity of the data collected is maintained. Thus, effective data handling techniques will be considered. First, the answered questionnaire will be stored electronically and non-electronically to ensure that that there will be no loss of data and future retrieval of those data will be easy. The digitalized documents will be provided with a password only this researcher will have access to. This process will require personal computers, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and laptops.

Problems in Implementing the Design

The problems that may arise in implementing the design include the availability of respondents, the scope of the research, and several other constraints, like finances. The geographic considerations will have to be considered since the place of research will have to be particularly pinpointed. Coordination and approval from the company management will also have to be considered before the actual execution of the survey research.

Summary

All factors considered in this research will apply the qualitative research design since this will focus on the phenomenon of workplace stress among shipbuilding workers, with emphasis on the causes, problems, and outcomes. The research will have these components: purpose, context, research questions, methods, and validity. All plans and activities, in the field or during the actual composition of the dissertation, will be guided by these elements.

References

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Appendix A

Annotated Bibliography

“Actual cardiovascular disease risk and related factors: A cross-sectional study of Korean blue-collar workers employed by small businesses,” by Won, Hong, and Hwang, W. (2013)

This study focuses on why an increasing number of Korean blue-collar workers succumb to cardiovascular disease (CVD). Death and disability in this segment have increased, along with insurance and compensation costs. Cerebrovascular cases and stroke also contributed to a large number of compensated occupational diseases in Korea (Kim & Kang as cited in Won et al., 2013). Health care expenses for people in the Asia Pacific region doubled from 2000 to 2005 because of increased health care incidents.

The study by Won et al. (2013) was approved by the Institutional Review Board and the setting was an occupational center in Korea that conducts annual physical examinations and occupational health services including prevention programs for small companies. Blue-collar workers are skilled or non-skilled manual workers based on Korean contexts of occupational workers (Korea National Statistical Office as cited in Won et al., p. 164).

CVD risks, which stood as the dependent variable, included obesity, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and diabetes. Survey and anthropometric measurements were conducted on the participants to determine their work characteristics. Perceived CVD risk was taken using the risk perception index by Becker and Levine (as cited in Won et al., 2013). The actual CVD risk was predicted using the waist-to-hip ratio, risk perception, and job stress. Workplace stress was found to be the most significant predictor of actual CVD risk among blue-collar workers.

“Policy perspectives on occupational stress,” by O’Keefe, Brown, and Christian (2014)

This paper emphasizes the importance of health and healthcare policies for economic and social development. Workers have the right to adequate healthcare, but they are constantly exposed to psychosocial hazards. A focus of the paper is the program known as Healthy People 2020 which aims to heighten accessibility of workplace programs to deal with workplace stress (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as cited in O’Keefe, Brown, & Christian, 2014). Workplace policies should improve workers’ health and safety as most employed Americans spend the majority of their waking hours at work. The policies are increasingly important during economic downturns.

In the literature review, O’Keefe et al. (2014) cited the European Working Conditions Survey which found that in 2005, 20% of workers in the first 15 European Union member countries suffered from workplace stress. The respondents experienced physical and psychological problems, such as back pain, fatigue, headaches, irritability, sleeping disorders, anxiety, and cardiovascular problems. In many industrialized countries, occupational risks are major public health problems. Governments and policymakers are addressing the issue as workers expect protection from their respective governments.

The article cited the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), a U.S. regulatory agency that has recognized the effect of stress on health. The definition of stress by NIOSH was used in the study and it refers to a worker’s physical and psychological reaction to the demands in the work environment. The agency supports research in controlling hazards in the workplace to provide safe working conditions for American workers.

“Using the job demands-resources model to predict burnout and performance,” by Bakker, Demerouti, and Verbeke (2004)

This is a study using empirical research on job burnout which affects job satisfaction resulting in personnel turnover and absenteeism. The researchers investigated the relationship between burnout and performance. They used the JD-R model. The study used the “job demands-resources model of burnout” (Demerouti et al. as cited in Bakker et al., 2004), which defines how the fundamental burnout extents, exhaustion, and disengagement, have different results on in-role and extra-role performance.

The study defined burnout as work-related stress that was first observed on service practitioners, or those who do “people work” (Maslach & Jackson as cited in Bakker et al., 2004). The primary dimensions of burnout can be observed in virtually any occupational group. Demerouti et al. (as cited in Bakker et al., p. 84) have delineated exhaustion as an extreme type of fatigue that results from protracted and penetrating physical, affective, and cognitive strain, due to prolonged exposure to specific working conditions that are stressors.

The JD-R model can be used in broad categories, such as job demands and job resources. Job demands may refer to work characteristics that require workers’ qualities in order to be accomplished successfully. Workers have to avoid extreme fatigue to avoid the stress that can lead to poor performance. Management must be responsible to allow time for the workers to rest. The effects of job demands on job performance should be mediated by the feelings of greater exhaustion.

“A comparison of workers employed in hazardous jobs in terms of job satisfaction perceived job risk and stress: Turkish jean sandblasting workers, dock workers, factory workers, and miners,” by Sunal et al. (2011)

This article is particularly important to the present study as it focuses on dockworkers, miners, factory workers, jean sandblasting workers, etc. The aim of Sunal et al.’s study was to compare job satisfaction and stress symptoms with those of the workers. It was hypothesized that many dock workers, miners, and jean sandblasting workers would encounter occupational stressors in their jobs because of the hazardous responsibilities they had. The participants in the study consisted of 220 male workers from Istanbul, Bursa, and Kocacli, all from Turkey. The questionnaire included demographic profiles, like age, level of education, marital status and the place where they spent the majority of their lives, and monthly income. The job satisfaction scales included a 32 item inventory, with six factors, such as organizational policies, individual factors, physical conditions, control/autonomy, wage, and interpersonal factors. Some groups of workers perceived that their workplace environment lacked management attention for improvement. Occupational groups differ in job satisfaction and stress levels. One reason is that dockworkers and sandblasting workers were working in environments where safety and health measures were very poor. As a result, dockworkers and sandblasting workers suffered from illnesses, one of these was silicosis, a fatal occupational illness (Sahbaz as cited in Sunal et al., 2011). Factory workers scored well in the job satisfaction index while dock workers obtained lower job satisfaction scores. It was found in the study that job satisfaction was closely related to vulnerability to stress.

“Workplace dimensions, stress and job satisfaction,” by Fairbrother and Warn (2003)

This article argues that stress mostly relates to impaired individual functioning in the work environment. Stress outcomes include reduced efficiency, low level of performance, reduced willingness to work, and a loss of responsibility. In consonance with many studies on workplace stress, this article recognizes that stress affects job satisfaction, commitment, and employee withdrawal attitude.

The article also talks about stress in training at sea. Thirty-five percent of seagoing personnel, with a little lower percentage of officer trainees, complained that they suffered too much stress related to their job. In Fairbrother and Warn’s (2003) study, they expressed an understanding of the stressors perceived in “capsule environments” (Suedfeld & Steel as cited in Fairbrother & Warn p. 10). Capsule environments are typically far from home and the usual environment experienced by workers. The workers experienced disturbed interaction and communication with family and friends.

Fairbrother and Warn’s (2003) study used a sample of 100 naval officer trainees, with 15 males and 35 females, and a questionnaire method of collecting data. The study found that the trainees felt lower job satisfaction because of their work environment inside the ship.

“Workplace spirituality and stress: Evidence from Mexico and US,” by Daniel (2015)

The article focuses on workplace spirituality (WS) as a way to control stress. Statistical analysis was used for respondents from Mexico and U.S. WS began as a spiritual movement and evolved out of several factors, such as demographic and religious changes, transformation, and developments in the standard of living.

Daniel (2015) explained the theory of humanocracy in referring to the spirituality movement. WS is more focused on connectedness as workers need enhanced interpersonal relationships in dealing with stress. Religion has a wider scope, which distinguishes it from WS. Giacalone and Jurkiewicz (as cited in Daniel, p. 30) define WS as “a framework of organizational values” that emanate from the cultural beliefs of employees, transcending into their work processes, enabling their sense of being connected to others in a way that enhances feelings of fulfillment and joy. According to Daniel (2015), it is fit to study the cross-cultural aspects of the organization in defining the WS concept. Cross-cultural research in the context of organizational behavior helps in looking at the characteristics of management practices across cultures (Cieri & Dowling as cited in Daniel, p. 31). Rego and colleagues (as cited in Daniel, p. 31) studied the relationship between WS and organizational commitment and found that the samples in Brazil and Portugal showed that WS is a predictor of organizational commitment. Pawar (as cited in Daniel, 2015) studied three dimensions of WS and the outcome of individual spirituality on work attitudes, such as job satisfaction, involvement, and organizational commitment. The study found that WS had a positive effect on work attitudes.

There is a need for workers to feel that they are a part of a community (Ashmos & Duchon as cited in Daniel, 2015). When workers experience this, they feel they are working in an environment where the employees are attached to each other and are one whole connected community. Manion and Bartholomew (as cited in Daniel, p. 33) indicated that the community is characterized by inclusivity, the commitment of the members, the ability to provide a collective decision, a sense of realism, a prayerful group, a feeling of safety, and all members playing specific roles.

“Workplace stress interventions using participatory action research designs,” by McVicar, Munn-Giddings, and Seebohm (2013)

This study focuses on interventions. The authors emphasize that stress management will be more likely to be successful for many employees if intervention broadly addresses sources of stress within the work environment, including the employees’ interaction (Bond; Michie & Williams as cited in McVicar, Munn-Giddings, & Seebohm, 2013). Individual-focused is more preferred than organizational-focused as intervention aims at raising the individual’s resilience. A study in the UK by Seymour and Grove (as cited in McVicar et al., 2013) found that only individual-focused intervention supported by strong evidence is an effective solution. The study further gave weight to quantitative studies that applied randomized controlled trials, which are popular in medical research but less relevant to the uniqueness of causative factors in a particular place.

The study aimed for participatory approaches to changing the workplace which had to operate within the organizational context. The workplace provides different potential variables in studying the efficacy of the intervention, such as the size of the organization, level of engagement of employees and managers, or time duration of the intervention. Their aim was to clarify the characteristics of successful interactive interventions by going through the various empirical studies and applying a PAR approach to stress management. Successful PAR studies were identified. Various databases of literature associated with mental or physical health, psychology, and various researches, were searched.

The normal approach to analyzing the literature was done, utilizing quantitative and qualitative tools. It was found in the literature that improved stress outcomes by way of organizational change can be successful if the participants, who were mostly workers and managers, provided a positive attitude to collaborative learning (Lunt et al. as cited in McVicar et al., 2013). Moreover, PAR designs can have mostly positive results for major stress indicators, such as job performance and productivity, absenteeism, and psychological health.

“Factors in absenteeism and presenteeism: Life events and health events,” by MacGegor, Cunningham, and Caverley (2008)

Both absenteeism and presenteeism cost substantial expenses for the private and public sectors, whether in developed or developing countries. In Canada, absenteeism cost billions of dollars annually. Both phenomena have similar effects in that in presenteeism, employees attend work in situations when a sickness absence is reasonable. According to the authors, if presenteeism is much costlier than absenteeism, activities, and programs made to reduce absenteeism could be costlier if they lessen absenteeism by increasing presenteeism. Efforts to alleviate the expenses of absenteeism should consider this potential offsetting cost of increasing presenteeism (Chaterji & Tilley as cited in MacGegor et al., 2008).

MacGregor et al. (2008) cited previous research which found that presenteeism could be increasing because employees would like to substitute sickness presence with sickness absence. According to studies, levels of health can be more predicted by a linear method of presenteeism and absenteeism, and not by absenteeism alone. The authors conducted their study in a Canadian public service organization, which had experienced a downsizing initiative, reducing the workforce by more than 30 percent. The downsizing was conducted in the summer of 2002 in which the employees competed for the reduced number of positions. There were other downsizing initiatives in some government departments of the larger public service of more than 30,000 employees for the next three years.

The survey used a single measure of presenteeism asking the question, “During the past 12 months, how many days did you work despite an illness or injury because you felt you had to?” The absenteeism report was the recorded number of days of sick leave absences that were processed and recorded in the government file. Presenteeism and absenteeism were measured in a number of days. It was found that presenteeism would occur when employees thought that the option of absenteeism was not available or was perceived to be more costly. The study found that employees would attend work instead of being absent and that employees thought they had no backup for the work for which they were responsible.

“Effect of occupational stress and work-life balance on job satisfaction among female faculties of central universities in Delhi,” by Darakhshan and Ul Islam (2014)

This study’s aims were to: determine the job satisfaction of women faculties in Delhi; examine the impact of workplace stress on job satisfaction, and investigate outcomes of work-life balance on women’s job satisfaction. The authors cited the increasing attention on the relationship of occupational stress with job satisfaction and work-life balance. The interviews generated some negative results in that elementary teachers experienced work stress which negatively affected their job satisfaction. Chronic job stress was reported among teachers who experienced difficulties in balancing work and family life.

The study used interviews and a sampling method wherein teachers of two public central universities in Delhi were asked to relate their experiences on job satisfaction and workplace stress. It was found in the study that job stress was associated with job satisfaction. The respondent teachers reported that they were satisfied with their job as teachers. Their duties and responsibilities were clear to them and that they fulfilled these duties according to what was instructed of them. There was a high level of satisfaction when they were able to balance family life with work.

“Stress and coping: A model for the workplace,” by Gates (2001)

In this article, Gates (2001) describes workplace stress and how workers, particularly nurses, can overcome it to reduce its impact on job satisfaction. The most common definition of stress is that provided by the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety Administration (NIOHSA), which states that stress is the body’s reaction to some stimulant such as when resources do not meet worker’s needs (NIOHSA as cited in Gates, 2001).

Gates (2001) indicated that there are positive and negative workplace stressors. Some employees see stressors as challenging, and challenges can be a motivating factor to do better in the job. However, even if individuals interpret stressors differently, research has shown common workplace stressors. These stressors are categorized into the following:

  • Management style – inadequate communication, unfriendly, dictatorial
  • Workload – too much work to be done, not reasonable, time is not flexible, inappropriate resources for the assigned job, underload
  • Decision autonomy – employees are not given the freedom to decide for work
  • Interpersonal relationships – negative relationships, lack of interaction and support from coworkers and managers, conflict or pressure from a supervisor, and even customers
  • Role responsibility –too much responsibility for co-employees; difficulty in dealing with fellow employees
  • Role ambiguity – unclear in prioritizing tasks and how they might be evaluated or promoted, job insecurity, and no chance for advancement or growth career
  • Physical conditions – exposure to high levels of noise, temperature, danger, physical demands, heavy workload, etc.

When these stressors are experienced excessively, workers experience feelings of stress. These stressful conditions should be targeted in order to reduce the workers’ stress. Managers or researchers can implement strategies to assist individual workers to reduce their stress by first assessing the workers’ personality, coping style, and personal stressors.

“Analysis of workplace stress and organizational performance in human resource management: A case study of air traffic controllers of Pakistan,” by Iqbal and Yilmaz (2014)

This article focuses on workplace stress and the many factors stimulating workers’ stress. The greatest stressors are those involving organizational change, reformation of organizational functions, and rationalizing. Job affects anyone’s state of health; job stress greatly affects health. A negative correlation has been seen between stress and individual, or organizational, performance (Rubina et al. as cited in Iqbal & Yilmaz, 2014).

Iqbal and Yilmaz’s (2014) study focused on air traffic controllers’ stress. Air traffic controllers’ stress patterns should be studied as their job involves saving airplane passengers’ lives. If an air traffic controller is under stress, he/she cannot perform the tasks well which can be detrimental to the plane and the passengers. Air controllers have to manage people and technology, but this also includes their own personal lives. Work-related stress can have significant outcomes as this may result in job dissatisfaction, lower performance, and poor health. Workplace stress greatly affects an individual’s health, including his career and personal happiness. It consequently affects organizational performance. Workplace stress also exacerbates employee injuries, absenteeism, and other illnesses.

The study used a sample of air traffic controllers stationed at Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, Pakistan, and questionnaire copies were distributed to the sample population. The findings of the study correspond to previous results of other studies on the relationship of workplace stress to employees’ health and organizational performance.

“Reducing deviant behavior through workplace spirituality and job satisfaction,” by Ahmad and Omar (2014)

Ahmad and Omar (1014) tackle the subject of deviant workplace behavior (WDB) which is notoriously affecting organizational behavior nowadays. WDB refers to individual behavior that infringes organizational standards and threatens the organization itself (Robinson & Bennett as cited in Ahmad & Omar, 2014). An example of a minor deviant behavior is when a worker works slow, leaves work early, or shows favoritism. Examples of serious deviant behaviors are stealing, being corrupt, or endangering fellow workers (Robinson & Bennett as cited in Ahmad & Omar, 2014). Other terms for WDB include disobedient behavior, workplace aggression, or antisocial, among others. WDB outcomes include decreased productivity and absenteeism.

Some studies have shown that WDB can be controlled by spirituality in the workplace. A study by Milliman et al (as cited in Ahmad & Omar, 2014) showed a positive relationship between spirituality and job satisfaction. In some organizations where employees show respect for spirituality, those employees experience higher job satisfaction levels. According to Ahmad & Omar (p. 109), workplace spirituality could be a solution to eliminate or lower WDB since spirituality tends to control employees’ behavior at work.

Ahmad and Omar (2014) developed a mediation model using the social exchange theory and the social control theory. In this sense, WDB was made the result and job satisfaction the intermediary. The model and the theories support the view that there is a link between job satisfaction, workplace spirituality, and WDB. Spirituality therefore can influence employees’ behavior.

“The relationship between occupational stress and job satisfaction: The case of Pakistani universities,” by Chaudry (2012)

Using demographic profile and work experience of teachers, the study determined the relationship between occupational stress and job satisfaction of university teachers in Pakistan. The study used the professional life stress scale in measuring occupational stress, which included 24 test items. A demographic profile was incorporated into the test items. From the 500 prospective samples of teachers, only 310 returned their questionnaire. They used descriptive statistics in providing the behavioral pattern of the sample.

Correlations were tested through the Pearson correlation, using tables and charts. The study found that with respect to job satisfaction and overall occupational stress, the statistics proved that there was no correlation. In other words, there was no significant relationship. However, when the other variables were analyzed statistically, the authors found a significant relationship between stress and satisfaction. The researchers noted the limited scope of the study as it was only confined to a few universities in Punjab.

“Occupational stress, job satisfaction and health state in male and female junior hospital doctors in Greece,” by Antoniou, Davidson, and Cooper (2003)

This study focused on the medical profession, particularly dentists and doctors, which is a high-stress occupation. Doctors’ profession is stressful because they have “the responsibility for people rather than objects” (Caplan et al. as cited in Antoniou et al., 2003). The hospital environment and constant patient complaints make the medical profession a high-risk job. Their competence is under repeated assessment by both clients or patients and colleagues. They are constantly working with healthcare workers and have to monitor the progress of their work. Pressure could be aggravated by other factors like being emotionally involved or concerned with their patients’ problems (Sutherland & Cooper; Kash et al.; Botseas as cited in Antoniou et al., 2003).

Junior hospital doctors (JHDs) are the most vulnerable group since they have to adjust to a totally new and stressful environment and their conditions are characterized as particularly poor. Some studies have found that those regarded as members of Junior House Officers experienced higher levels of stress and anxiety (Firth-Cozen as cited in Antoniou et al., 2003). JHDs do not have enough sleep and have to work under stress. British JHDs were found to have suffered increasing stress symptoms, such as anxiety and insomnia, and were believed to make mistakes in their medical practice (Houson & Alit as cited in Antoniou et al., p. 593).

JHDs reported other factors for sources of stress as job insecurity, a serious fear of unemployment, including unclear job descriptions, and the lack of workplace facilities (British Medical Association as cited in Antoniou et al., 2003). Doctors also feel stress due to tolerance to lack of sleep and the organizational climate of different hospitals (Spurgeon & Harrington as cited in Antoniou et al., p. 594).

Antoniou et al.’s (2003) study focused on Greek JHDs working in nineteen clinics in Greater Athens. Questionnaires were sent to 810 respondents and the study attained a 68.1 response rate. Antoniou and colleagues used the occupational stress indicator (OSI), a self-completion questionnaire developed by Cooper et al. (as cited in Antoniou et al., 2003). The respondents had to select from 46 items the stressors they experienced.

The items were sourced from important literature.

The sources of workplace pressure of Greek JHDs include:

  • The outcomes of their likely work errors
  • The long work hours
  • Low psychological support from hospital management and supervisors
  • Lack of financial assistance and other means needed to achieve effective work

The most important stressor for JHDs was the consequences of their mistakes. To put it simply, they were afraid of making mistakes. Relationships with superiors were another significant factor.

“Teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs, self-esteem, and job stress as determinants of job satisfaction,” by Reilly, Dhingra, and Boduszek (2014)

This study focused on teachers’ performance and job satisfaction. The authors noted that job satisfaction is vital since it affects work performance, including the health and career of workers. Reilly et al. (2014) defined teacher stress as a teacher experience characterized by negative emotions, like anger, anxiety, depression, and so on (Kyriacou as cited in Reilly et al.). Prolonged experience of teacher stress can lead to illness, burnout (e.g. emotional fatigue, lower work performance) (Reilly et al., p. 366).

The authors quoted Bergman et al.’s (as cited in Reilly et al., 2014) definition of self-efficacy which states that it is the degree to which the teacher believes that he/she can affect student accomplishment. Teachers’ self-efficacy has been recognized as a significant source of motivation and commitment (Trentham et al.; Tschannen-Moran & Hoy as cited in Reilly et al., 2014).

Reilly et al.’s (2014) study used a sample of 121 primary school teachers from eight primary schools in Dublin, Ireland. They used questionnaires in obtaining data and made every possible move for a successful empirical study. The teacher self-efficacy scale was employed to evaluate teachers’ confidence in performing their tasks and fulfilling their goals. The study found that teachers who had many years of experience had a low level of job satisfaction, or the number of years increased, job satisfaction decreased. This was also similar to age, as the study found a relationship between age and job satisfaction. Young teachers embraced the challenges and opportunities of teaching and experienced greater job satisfaction (Schmidt as cited in Reilly et al., 2014).

“Decision latitude and workload demand: Implications for full and partial absenteeism,” by Zavala et al. (2002)

This article emphasizes that stress is one of the 10 leading work-related issues. Stress reactions are currently among the most damaging conditions as these result in lost work time, accounting for about 25 days lost per incident in 2000. In a survey of 600 full-time employees, 7 out of 10 participants reported that work-related stress lowered their productivity and increased their incidents of illness. Seventeen of the participants complained that they had not gone to work for one or more days of work, every year, because of stress (Mulcahy as cited in Zavala et al., 2002).

The authors quote the American Institute of Stress in its report that job stress costs about $300 billion annually for the U.S. industry due to absenteeism, reduced productivity, employee turnover, medical expenses, legal and insurance fees, and other outcomes. Long-term effects of stress include heart disease, a higher rate of accidents, and poor mental health.

The study of Zavala et al. (2002) scrutinized a conceptual framework first developed by Karasek and colleagues to determine the relative importance of two potential elements of stress – decision autonomy and workload demand – and their relation to employee absenteeism. A number of studies have used this model to study the health outcomes due to job stress. This conceptual framework is known as the job demands-control model which has provided the theoretical basis for most large-scale studies of job stress conducted in the last two decades. The model consists of four distinctly different kinds of psychosocial work experiences which are generated by the interactions of high and low levels of psychosocial demands and decision latitude – high decision latitude jobs, high demand jobs, low decision latitude jobs, and low demand jobs.

Most studies using Karasek’s model investigated the relationship of demands and control with stress-related illness, such as heart disease, and employee health and well-being. Zavala et al. (2002) first theorized that decision latitude is a significant predictor of employee health and productivity, thus they hypothesized that individuals with Low Decision Latitude (LDL), along with High Workload Demand (HWD) will experience more absenteeism days, compared to individuals with moderate levels of DL and WD. The data were collected in three yearly and independent cross-sections, as part of a larger study to plan, apply, and assess a new employee assistance program (EAP) outreach intervention. The results of the study were consistent with the overall result of previous studies using Karasek’s model. The studies report a generally positive relationship between job demands and indices of ill-health and other stronger and more consistent negative relationships between decision latitude and health problems.

“Stress-related aftermaths to workplace politics: The relationships among politics, job stress, and aggressive behavior in organizations,” by Vigoda (2002)

This study focuses on a distinct type of organizational behavior, particularly politics, in relation to job stress and performance. Politics refers to the combination of power, control, and interest-centered behaviors that dictate employees’ activity in the workplace. Organizational politics, according to Ferris et al. (as cited in Vigoda, 2002), is a social-influence progression in which behavior is deliberately designed to optimize short-term or long-term interests of management and those who want to take control. Politics caused loss of credibility, feelings of insecurity, and lack of achievement. Studies of organizational politics relate it to job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and turnover intentions. As a whole, politics affects employees in several ways, which may concern emotional state or psychological conditions that are stress-strain related and have a possible impact on the individual’s behavior.

Effects of organizational politics can be long-term because it is a part of organizational culture. Employees become nervous and anxious about their job.

This is because workplace politics motivates a situation of inequity, unfairness, and disharmony among members of the organization (Kacmar & Ferris as cited in Vigoda, 2002). Organizational politics can also lead to aggressive behavior. When under intense pressure, workers experience higher stress and are very impulsive.

Such symptoms can also be considered aggressive behavior.

“Job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and stress among offshore oil and gas platform employees,” by Harun et al. (2014)

Harun et al. (2014) describe offshore platform workplace as unique as workers are in a confined space and all they see is the uncertain ocean. Employees and workers of this workplace experience job stress. Work performance is vital to the successful operation of the oil and gas company, but there is the question of job satisfaction and organizational commitment being affected by workplace stress.

The study by Harun et al. (2014) focused on workers of an offshore oil and gas company in Malaysia. The researchers contributed questionnaires to collect data from 214 respondents. The study found that the respondents had a moderate level of job satisfaction and they were not totally pressured since their needs were constantly addressed, such as rest and recuperation time, leisure activities, and visits to their families. However, they still experienced some stress in their job.

“The relationship between job satisfaction and life satisfaction: Empirical evidence from logistics practitioners in a South African steel-making company,” by Mafini (2014)

This study tried to distinguish job satisfaction from life satisfaction through literature search and empirical research. Chi and Gursoy (as cited in Mafini, 2014) explained that job satisfaction is the relationship between the worker and the specific job environment. This is known as the person-environment fit paradigm. Life satisfaction refers to the cognitive part of the subjective happiness or comfort of workers (Rode as cited in Mafini, 2014). It also refers to individuals’ perception of quality of life. Mafini (2014) examined the relationship between job satisfaction and life satisfaction in the context of logistics personnel and found relationships in the variables.

“Unfairness at work as a predictor of absenteeism,” by De Boer et al. (2002)

This study by De Boer et al. (2002) tries to dissect the very nature of absenteeism, on why workers do not attend work despite its implication on their job achievement. One explanation provided by the authors is known as withdrawal from unfavorable work conditions, i.e. the worker is avoiding the work conditions. Another explanation is that the worker is stressed at work. Some studies suggest that high demands and low control result in absenteeism (Schechter et al. as cited in De Boer et al., 2002). Unfairness or inequality forces workers not to attend work.

Stress points to the worker’s unwillingness to go to work due to health issues as a result of the unhealthy workplace environment. The study by De Boer et al. (2002) did not find the unfairness variable as a cause for absenteeism. Psychosomatic health problems were found to be the most significant predictor of absenteeism.

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