Occupational stress is nearly impossible to avoid in the working place. In most cases, it has a significant negative effect on the emotional and physical wellbeing of employees as well as the level of their performance (Hiriyappa, 2013). It means that work-related stress is not beneficial to a company because it reduces the volumes of its economic and financial performance as well as becomes the source of higher levels of costs due to higher turnover rates and absenteeism. For this reason, senior management should pay significant attention to finding ways to reduce occupational stress and create a comfortable working environment.
This paper will present some valuable information about work-related stress. It is comprised of three sections divided into subsections. The first one provides the statement of the problem including research questions and research objectives. The second section is the theoretical framework creating the necessary context of the paper and identifying the gaps in current research on occupational stress. Finally, the third section is devoted to research design focusing on details of the future research and techniques, which will be used.
Statement of the Problem
The psychological well-being of employees in the workplace is critical to avoid stress and improve employees’ performance (Vainio, 2015). According to Hiriyappa (2013), stress is inevitable in the workplace, and the effects of stress are mostly negative. Even though stress can enhance employees’ performance at the workplace (Britt & Jex, 2015), 75% of American workers report experiencing significant stress every month resulting in health damages (American Psychological Association, 2015), leading to
reduced performance, increased turnover and absenteeism (O’Keefe, Brown, & Christian, 2014). O’Keefe et al. (2014) found that work-related stress leads to performance decrease in 20 % of employees, increased turnover in 65 % of workers who demonstrate dissatisfaction with their stress-related work, and 9% absenteeism caused by tension at work. Work-related stress causes 5-8% of the entire US healthcare costs each year with companies spending more than $150 billion dollars in healthcare expenses (White, 2015). In addition to companies spending more on healthcare cost, work-related stress also causes higher turnover adding greater losses on recruiting and preparation of new workers (O’Keefe et al., 2014). The cost of hiring a new employee in place of one who left and made less than $50,000 a year may cost 20% of his or her salary while the replacement of an executive worker may require up to 200% of his or her annual salary (Patel, 2013).
The general problem is that work-related stress affects people emotionally, mentally, and physiologically, resulting in aggravated job performance, increased turnovers, and absenteeism (Patel, 2013).Occupational stress can also lead to the development of cardiovascular diseases, disturbances of mood, psychological and emotional disorders, and injuries at the workplace (O’Keefe et al., 2014). Leon and Halbesleben (2013) noted that work-related stress is directly related to the worsening of employees’ working performance and cooperation with other colleagues.
The specific problem is that ship-repair managers lack the skills and understanding to reduce occupational stress, absenteeism, and turnover to increase employee performance. The backbone to ship-repair leaders should be strategies to deal with and prevent work-related stress for successful performance outcomes, and preventive measures that are meant to neutralize the stressful environment (Sherridan & Ashcroft, 2015).
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this qualitative exploratory case study is to discover the strategies that managers in a ship-repair company, in the maritime industry, can use to reduce occupational stress, absenteeism, turnover, and increase employee performance. The participants will be employees from one ship-repair Service Company located within the Hampton Roads area in Virginia. A group of 5 helpers, 5 trade persons, and 7 managers will be interviewed using open-ended questions to gain an in-depth understanding regarding occupational stress, absenteeism, turnover, and employee performance. The employee’s personal perspectives might shed some light on strategies for managers to address the aforementioned issues.
The following section contains the research questions for this study.
- RQ1. What are the primary aspects of the work that may lead to the occupational stress?
- RQ2. What are the occupational consequences of work-related stress?
- RQ3. How does work-related stress affect employees, employee performance, turnover, and absenteeism?
- RQ4: What are the strategies used by managers in ship-repair company to reduce work-related stress?
- RQ5: What strategies are most effective in reducing work-related stress and improving overall performance?
Definition of Key Terms
- Stress: Stress refers to an interaction between individuals and the source of demands within their environment (Naqvi, Khan, Kant, & Khan, 2013).
- Job satisfaction: Job satisfaction refers to the positive and pleasurable emotional feeling that emanates from an individual’s job experience (Gupta, Kumar, & Singh, 2014).
- Job performance: Job performance refers to all the behaviors employees engage in while at work (Gupta et al., 2014).
- Productivity: Productivity refers to the ratio of output to inputs and the real output per unit of labor (Naqvi et al., 2013).
- Motivation: Motivation is the inner force that individuals pursue and accomplish predetermined organizational and personal goals (Naqvi et al., 2013).
The job demands-resources model (JD-R model) is employed in the study; the researchers use it to predict the effect of increased job demands on employees’ stress levels. Using the JD-R model as the theoretical framework, researcher understand how various aspects of the job affect employee’s well-being and their behaviors at the workplace Demerouti, Bakker, Nachreiner, & Schaufeli, 2001). The revised version of the JD-R model includes work engagement and burnout as two key factors that influence job demands and the well-being of employees (Demerouti et al., 2001). The employees’ high levels of dedication, vigor, and absorption towards their job can positively influence the work engagement. On the other hand, burnout stems from a negative perspective of the working environment and is associated with health problems of employees (Xanthopoulou, Bakker, Demerouti, & Schaufeli, 2007).
High job demands lead to building up of stress among employees, while resources represent the positive aspects that promote their good health (Xanthopoulou et al., 2007). According to Demerouti et al. (2001), the job characteristics include physical, social, or organizational characteristics of the work environment that command restricted physical and psychological commitment of employees. Job resources increase employee enthusiasm, reducing the adverse effects of job demands (costs) (Xanthopoulou et al., 2007). Additionally, providing job resources can impact positively employees are in correlation with the personal growth and the development of workers (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007). Bakker and Demerouti (2007) noted that when the correlation is positive, the outcomes are positive as well; however, if there exists an imbalance between the resources and the needs of workers, the outcomes may be adverse (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007). JD-R model is an appropriate model to serve as the theoretical framework in this study. A high demand job can lead to unhealthy employees resulting in work-related stress. However, the effectiveness with which a stress-free environment in the workplace is developed in organizations depends on the extent to which organizational managers understand occupational stress.
Brief Review of the Literature
A thorough online research has been conducted for this paper. The sources suitable for the review were found by utilizing a number of a different keywords and word combinations such as workplace stress, occupational stress, causes of work stress, workplace stress outcomes, job dissatisfaction causes, turnover causes, depression, stress coping mechanisms, and other similar phrases. The search was not limited to any particular databases or countries of origin. It was conducted using Google as well as the databases that can be accessed through the library. The main conditions for the search were the topics covered in the studies, the time when the works were published (only the recent sources were included), and the types of the sources (mainly cholarly peer-reviewed journal articles). Even though the main focus of the research is workplace stress in ship-repairing, the studies with versatile subjects and from different career fields were included. The inclusion was based mainly on the fact that the causes of work-related stress, turnover intention, and job dissatisfaction are rather similar throughout most professional spheres (Britt & Jex, 2015). The sources that matched the search terms were grouped based on the issues discussed in them (job satisfaction, workplace absenteeism, workplace productivity, and workplace stress in ship-repairing).
Nowadays, workplace stress is one of the primary challenges that managers and leaders of modern organizations have to face (Aftab & Javeed, 2014). Workplace environments are highly competitive and intense; as a result, many employees may start having health problems that occur due to workplace stress (Dwamena, 2012). In addition, occupational stress may influence multiple aspects of a workers’ life and affect their physical and mental health, family relationships, professional performance, and relationships with coworkers (The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, 2014). Apart from harming workers, stress produces adverse effects on organizations in terms of human resources and capitals, causes problems with reputation and brand image, and harms the workplace climate (The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, 2014). In the following review of the literature, such manifestations of the workplace stress as low levels of job satisfaction, employee absenteeism, productivity, and health effects will be explored.
Studies were conducted in order to explore the correlation between workplace stress and the level of employees’ satisfaction with their work. It was found that high workplace stress is strongly correlated with low levels of employee job satisfaction (Griffiths et al., 2011). It might be stated that workers who experience high levels of stress in their workplace, for instance, while being overloaded with work or due to pressure from the management, conflicts with co-workers, or lack of career opportunities, lose their feeling of control over events (Griffiths et al., 2011; Trivellas, Reklitis, & Platis, 2013), which may lead to a constant feeling of anxiety and helplessness combined with the persistent accumulation of fatigue. When employees facing such a situation simultaneously have no access to social support from their peers or managers, it is hard for them to find relief, and their negative feelings are further exacerbated and continue to accumulate (Griffiths et al., 2011). It appears to be clear that the persistence of these negative feelings has a strong adverse effect on the job satisfaction levels of the employees, which decreases their performance; furthermore, it is stated to be capable of harming their psychological well-being, leading to burnout and depression (Griffiths et al., 2011; Hakanen & Schaufeli, 2012).
In addition, many researchers cover the issue of correlation between workplace stress and job satisfaction in a variety of spheres. For instance, healthcare is one of the career fields with heavy workloads and high level of pressure on employees; as a result, the medical workers often experience low job satisfaction and turnover intentions (Trivellas et al., 2013). Researchers recognized that conflicts with coworkers, lack of access to information, heavy workloads, the absence of career opportunities, benefits, and rewards, and overall negative environments are the primary factors contributing to the decrease in employees’ job satisfaction and the increase in workplace stress levels (Trivellas et al., 2013). The studies also emphasized the common ground of job satisfaction and turnover intention. As the researches show, workplace stress is an outcome of a multitude of determiner working in a combination. At the same time, there are factors that oppose the negative influences and minimize levels of stress or turnover intention; such factors are age and experience of the employees, and their marital status; in addition, employment under a contract also decreases turnover intentions (Chen et al., 2014), but it is possible to assume that such a decrease is related to factors other than lower workplace stress.
Another field with a high level of job dissatisfaction is public service known for the heavy and unevenly allocated workloads and lack of the individual appreciation of the employees’ contribution. Obiora and Iwuoha (2013) present a study that identifies the main contributors to the low satisfaction of public service employees in Nigeria. Kula and Sahin (2015) cover the same problem exploring the sphere of law enforcement specifically. Both groups of researchers emphasize that overtime hours and low payments are the primary contributors to high rates of dissatisfaction in public service careers; also, the authors conclude that workplace stress leads to the loss of human resources in the form of turnover (Kula & Sahin, 2015; Obiora & Iwuoha, 2013).
Another issue pertaining to the topic is employee absenteeism. Absenteeism is defined as the customary failure of an employee to attend work (Prater & Smith, 2011). It is known that workplace stress is one of the major factors that increase the likelihood of employees’ absenteeism (Daniel, 2015). There are a number of mechanisms of absenteeism induction due to occupational stress, burnout and depression being the most notable of them.
It was already mentioned that workplace stress has a profound adverse effect on the employees’ psychological well-being; it is no wonder that it often may lead to burnout. Burnout is a state in which an employee feels completely exhausted and frustrated and finds it difficult to continue working; the feeling of ineffectiveness, the mental fatigue, the loss of motivation, and the accumulating amounts of work to be done further impair their ability to work and may cause absenteeism (Hakanen & Schaufeli, 2012). In addition, burnout is capable of leading to depression (Hakanen & Schaufeli, 2012). Depression, in turn, may result in such phenomena as despair, crying, angry outbursts, self-destructive behaviors, substance use, and so on (Martin, Neighbors, & Griffith, 2013).
Clearly, employees who find themselves in these situations are more likely to be absent from work. In addition, it is known that the symptoms of depression may include headaches, stomach-aches, nausea, and diarrhea (Prater & Smith, 2011). While employees that are not experiencing such symptoms still may come to work, those who are may be forced to miss their work, which further exacerbates their adverse condition and leads to the additional pressure that they and their families find themselves under due to the fact that apart from suffering from such unpleasant experiences, these workers cannot make money. The employee absenteeism caused by depression is known to be a widespread and costly problem; for instance, according to Martin et al. (2013), approximately one-third of the population of the U.S. suffers from this disorder, and the losses experienced due to depression in workers are stated to be approximately $83 billion annually (Prater & Smith, 2011).
The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (2014) points out that employers have a legal obligation to take care of the well-being of their workers; this obligation covers physical hazards as well as psychosocial threats such as work-related stress. In cases when the managing personnel of organizations fail to accomplish their duties, negative outcomes may turn out to be rather costly (The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, 2014). The mechanisms individuals employ as strategies for coping with work-related stress differ from one person to another (Meško et al., 2013). As explained by Meško et al. (2013), the scholars divide stress coping mechanisms into two main types: focused on emotions and focused on problems. According to Meško et al. (2013), the latter mechanism is more efficient in terms of productivity of employees; it is also stressed that the use of it more effectively helps to reduce their absenteeism rates. Further, the causes of absenteeism related to workplace stress may be either objective (the ones that are difficult to influence for the organization or an individual) or subjective (the ones that refer to the effects that stress may have on the employees’ health) (Meško et al., 2013). In fact, work-related stress can result in such issues as mental and psychological disorders, loss of sleep and focus, eating disorders, substance abuse and addictions, depression, depersonalization, and cardiovascular disease (Meško et al., 2013).
Employee productivity is defined as the employee’s ability to meet or exceed assigned tasks in using the tools, technologies, and procedures given (Campbell, 2015). Productivity is defined as “the increased functional and organizational performance, including quality” (Roelofsen, 2012, p. 248). There is increased performance if there is less absenteeism and higher-quality production.
While employee absenteeism decreases the number of working hours that employees provide for the organizations they work for, there are other ways in which workplace stress experienced by employees may cause losses for an organization. Very often the losses originate from the diminished employee productivity. It was already noted that burnout may lead to depression (Hakanen & Schaufeli, 2012). Before a worker is influenced by the depression, however, burnout among the employees is also capable of harming an organization. For instance, it should not escape one’s attention that burnout may lead not only to frustration and cynicism but also to the negative feelings or views related to clients, which may result in a poor quality of service, decreasing the quantity of a company’s clientele (Hakanen & Schaufeli, 2012).
It was stressed above that depression may cause absenteeism; another negative option is presenteeism, or a situation in which employees come to work in spite of the fact that they are suffering from health problems. It is clear that a worker that is ill, depressed, and tired may find it hard to focus on the task at hand, which adversely affects their capability to do their job properly. Thus, the above-mentioned symptoms of depression, such as despair, angry outbursts, or substance abuse, will further lower the output of an employee’s work (Martin et al., 2013). In addition, the need to work while being ill often causes profound additional damage to the worker’s health.
While discussing productivity, RAND (2015) approached the concept environmentally. Three domains of its determinants are distinguished: work-related factors (workplace conflicts, environments, corporate attitudes, and conditions), personal factors (individual behaviors, habits, and perspectives), and health factors (long-term illnesses and health conditions that may affect one’s professional performance). Further, RAND (2015) added the concepts that helped managers measure the loss of productivity at an organization include daily activity impairment, absenteeism, and presenteeism; the use of these variables allows for calculating the exact number of days or hours that were lost due to the workers’ objective and subjective reasons. Consequently, the working hours can be easily converted into monetary equivalents in order to estimate the loss of capital the company has suffered due to productivity problems (RAND, 2015).
The method for estimation of productivity and the rates of other factors that influence it (job satisfaction, absenteeism, stress levels) are measured with the help of questionnaires, interviews, and feedback (Chen et al., 2014). Cevenini et al. (2012) propose measuring the levels of stress based on six dimensions (role, structure, growth and sensibility, work-life balance, interpersonal relations, and fulfillment) and test their questionnaire measuring workplace stress of the whole working population in Italy. The study had an extremely large sample (over 19 million people) and helped identify the correlation between workplace stress, occupational demotivation, and personal well-being of workers (Cevenini et al., 2012).
The imbalance between the employee and workplace foster the employee’s inability to endure obstacles and meet the demands of the job. Most of the time, employees encounter stressors which tend to accumulate if not well managed or released as waste from the physical and psychological faculties (Roelofsen, 2012). The workplace environment is one major stressor reducing productivity (Daniel, 2015). A survey conducted by the Building Owners and Managers Association International among building owners and managers in the US found that indoor environment is considered a major stressor, which caused a low level of performance among employees in the facility (Roelofsen, 2012).
Workplace Stress in Ship-Repairing Industry
In the sphere of ship-repair, the productivity of employees and their ability to remain focused is crucial for the maintenance of safety (Al-Raqadi, Abdul Rahim, Masrom, & Al-Riyami, 2015). This sphere shares many aspects that induce stress in workers with other industrial domains. However, there are also other factors. For instance, the evaluation of the main causes of stress among the ship-repair workers revealed that in addition to the hazardous working conditions and the frequency of accidents at the workplace, the employees experienced stress due to such reasons as workplace conflicts, inequitable allocation of workloads, overtime shifts, lack of fulfillment, and insufficient work-life balance (Cardoso, Padovani, & Tucci, 2014). Bakotić and Babić (2013) prove the same tendency as they point out that working conditions are crucial for the employees of ship-building sphere as well. In addition, according to the research of Cezar-Vaz et al. (2014), health problems resulting from work-related accidents are one of the most prominent stressors for employees in the ship-repair field and dock workers.
Quality management is one of the most efficient and necessary approaches that could ensure better and safer working conditions at the docks (Al-Raqadi et al., 2015). At the same time, the docks are one of the areas that are extremely sensitive towards reorganization (Cardoso et al., 2014). As the authors demonstrate using the modernization process at the Brazilian port Santos, the changes caused higher levels of stress among the workers (Cardoso et al., 2014). At the same time, the rapidly developing technologies of modern days require that such companies that are involved in the performance of repair work and services increase their quality and efficiency by means of modernizing their operations and technologies (Al-Raqadi et al., 2015). Quality and change management approaches can be rather useful for the field of ship-repair; however, the implementation of change and modernization should rely on smart and far-sighted plans. Otherwise, unorganized transformations may lead to workplace crises in terms of operations, productivity, and employee security and safety (Cardoso et al., 2014); the disruption of well-oiled processes and habitual organization for the purpose of modernization and change might cause additional accidents and hazards to the health of the workers (Cardoso et al., 2014).
As quality and change management directly affects the operations and organization of the working process, the transformations that occur due to its implementation may become the causes of workplace stress and its outcomes such as turnover, low job satisfaction, loss of resources, and absenteeism. This tendency has paradoxical character as a process designed to improve the working conditions has the capacity to make them worse and decrease the efficiency instead of making it better.
Working environments are one of the most significant stressors and management should take it as a precaution. Workplace stress can cost billions of dollars to the industry. The literature provides 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, Sunal, & Yasin, 2011).
This section will provide the detailed observation of the research design, which will be used for achieving the primary objectives of the research and finding answers to research questions.
The study will be based on the qualitative research design. The rationale for choosing qualitative research design as a primary one is the fact that it is useful in determining primary trends in the development of the issue under consideration and in-depth understanding (Creswell, 2007). Moreover, it is the most efficient tool for obtaining information regarding behaviors and social contexts (O’Sullivan, Rassel, & Berner, 2008), which are valuable in the context of research questions. It means that it is the most appropriate research design to achieve the objectives of the study because it is used for analyzing perceptions and experiences as well as identifying matters of concerns and ways to solve problems based on the obtained information.
Qualitative research design will aid in collecting substantial and relevant data from the field. The relevance of the data will be improved by the view that it will be collected from the natural settings. The relevance of the data will arise from the fact that the respondents will not be constrained to respond in a pre-determined manner. Moreover, a qualitative research design provides the researcher an opportunity to adjust the research plan, hence enriching the collected data. This goal will be made possible by the integration of open-ended questions. In this form of questions, respondents will have the freedom to express their views without restrictions. Therefore, this aspect will allow the researcher to collect elaborate data.
The foundation of the proposed qualitative research design is conducting interviews. They will include open-ended questions, i.e. those requiring detailed answers to the questions. Interviews will focus on feelings and personal experiences of the respondents, i.e. they will be phenomenological. The reason for this decision is the fact that phenomenological interviews have proved to be the most effective tools for obtaining data for qualitative research because they observe the interviewees’ perception of particular phenomena. When speaking of the proposed research, questions will focus on occupational stress, job satisfaction, working environment, absenteeism, and job performance.
Threats to Reliability and Validity
The researcher is focused on ensuring that the research findings are credible. This goal will 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 relationship 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 conceal some of the data being requested. 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 respondents will be involved in this study on voluntary basis, and thus coercion of any form will be avoided. Therefore, individuals will be in a position to 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, 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.
Constructs of the qualitative research are the topics, which are referred to during conducting interviews and analyzing the obtained data. The primary requirement is to link them to research questions in order to achieve the primary objectives (Roller & Lavrakas, 2015). That said, there will be three primary constructs of the research – philosophical, emotional, and those related to knowledge. Philosophical constructs refer to the understanding of the nature of things. In case of the proposed research, it means that the interviewees will be asked to share their vision of the environment they work in and how it corresponds with their ideals and apprehension of work-related stress. These constructs are also related to reflection of consequences of occupational stress and hypothesizing on the ways to improve stress-reducing strategies. They are designated as philosophical ones because they are subjective and affected by personal experience and worldview. Philosophical constructs are closely related to emotional ones. However, there is a difference between the two because philosophical constructs are broader and include perceptions and reflections while emotional ones determine moods, e.g. satisfied or dissatisfied with the working environment, susceptible to stress or not, etc. Finally, construct related to knowledge are those connected to real life and known practices of other companies or people to reduce stress and improve performance.
The rationale for identifying three groups of constructs mentioned above is the fact that they will become the foundation for making accurate conclusions and offering ways for improving strategies aimed at minimizing occupational stress. Generally speaking, estimating the combination of emotions, worldview, and knowledge is the only way to achieve the primary objectives of the research.
Because the primary objective of the research is to find out what are the reasons for and the consequences of occupational and work-related stress as well as the strategies to diminish the risks of stress and improve employee performance, it is obvious that only those people, who are involved in the maritime industry, will be interviewed. The proposed sample is relatively small. The primary causes of choosing a small sample are the scale of the research and available resources. The number of respondents will be seventeen. The sample will be made of people occupying different positions in a ship-repair company including 5 helpers, 5 trader persons, and 7 managers. The rationale for selecting people fitting in varying positions is the fact that it would make it possible to answer central research questions because respondents will provide two types of answers – inward and outward. That said, it would be easier to find the connection between the strategies proposed and implemented by managers and their understanding of work-related stress in the company of their occupation (outward answers) and the opinions of the employees themselves, who operate in the environment created by managers and fall under the influence of their decisions (inward answers).
There will be several requirements to recruiting respondents. First of all, they should be employed by one ship-repair service company located within the Hampton Roads area, Virginia. This decision is motivated by the limited resources of the research as well as its scales. In addition to it, in case of small researches, it is always better and more beneficial to involve people working in one environment because it will help to analyze it and draw adequate and accurate conclusions. The second requirement to the survey participants is different duration of working experience in a company. The rationale for this decision is the desire to determine whether there is the dependence between the exposure to work-related stresses and the number of working years. Moreover, it would help find out the influence of experience of managers on their decisions and effectiveness of the strategies they develop and introduce. Finally, it is proposed to include people of different age and gender into the sample if possible. The reason for this choice is similar to one regarding working experience. That said, it would be beneficial for reaching precise conclusions.
Bearing in mind the plans for forming a sample for the research, the sampling technique would be stratified sampling. It implies dividing respondents into subgroups referred to as strata and choosing participants of the survey randomly (Johnson & Christensen, 2014). However, it is paramount to note that there will be several stages of stratification because it is necessary that the respondents occupy different positions within one company. That said, occupational title is the first stratum. There will be three groups for the further choice – helpers, trader persons, and managers. The next step is to divide them in accordance with their experience of work with a company. The plan is to make up three subgroups, namely those employed for less than 5 years, people working for the company from 5 to 10 years, and employees occupying their positions over 10 years. The researcher will choose the respondents randomly not exceeding the limits of the planned sample. The decision about the number of participants representing particular strata will be based on the overall trend in the company. For example, if the majority of employees have worked for the firm from 5 to 10 years, more people representing this group will be chosen. The trend will be determined for every separate stratum.
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 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.
Once the final list of questions is designed and reviewed, the researcher will proceed with the survey itself. Obtaining answers from the natural setting means conducting interviews within the territory of the company if permitted by the company’s senior management. Otherwise, informal setting is proposed. The estimated time frame for collecting answers is three days – one day for each group of respondents. As for analyzing the obtained data, it would take approximately one month in order to guarantee credibility and accuracy of the drawn conclusions.
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, it is vital to persuade senior management to allow the company’s employees to become participants in the proposed survey. It will be done by providing managers with research objectives and questions. In addition to it, it is paramount to point to the fact that finding out the causes of occupational stress would be beneficial for upgrading stress-reducing strategies. It, in turn, would have a positive impact the company because higher levels of job satisfaction would lead to higher levels of performance and economic outcomes.
Second, the researcher will seek the respondents’ consent, which will be achieved by providing the target individuals with sufficient information on the purpose and research methods to be incorporated whilst conducting the study. The researcher will plan and present the information concisely in order to enhance its relevance to the research participants. Creating knowledge on the intended research study will aid in obtaining informed consent due to the resulting trust. Additionally, the respondents will not be coerced to participate in the research study. Consequently, they will have the discretion to pull out of the research study at their own will without implications.
In addition to the above aspects, the researcher will ensure that the selected respondents are provided with the necessary privacy. Despite the fact that providing respondents with total privacy is nearly non-existent, it is imperative for researchers to integrate a certain degree of privacy. The researcher will observe a high level of confidentiality with reference to some information such as job title that the respondents might consider confidential in some situations. One of the techniques that the researcher will take into account in enhancing privacy during the study process entails anonymity. For example, fictitious and code names will be used in disguising the respondents’ identities. This aspect will provide the respondents with the assurance of confidentiality, thus increasing the likelihood of the selected participants to take part in the study freely. Such realization allows participants to provide information to the best of their knowledge without bias for fear of victimization.
Finally, making up the list of interview questions is also an area of ethical concerns. It is crucial to formulate the questions in a way demonstrating respect for human dignity and without bias and prejudice (Milton, 2013). It will be achieved by conducting interviews in gender and race neutral manner as well as analyzing the obtained data objectively.
The researcher will ensure that integrity of the data collected is maintained. Thus, effective data handling techniques will be considered. First, the answered questionnaires will be stored electronically and non-electronically. This aspect will aid in minimizing the likelihood of losing the collected data. Some of the electronic systems that will be used in storing the data include personal digital assistants and personal computers. Effective data storage will make it possible for the researcher to retrieve the data later. In a bid to enhance the integrity of the data, the researcher will limit ‘outsiders’ from accessing the data. This aspect will ensure that the accuracy of the data is maintained.
Problems in Implementing the Design
The proposed research design might face several problems. First and foremost, the size of the sample might be too small. It was chosen due to available resources and scale of the research. However, the obtained data might not be enough for extrapolating conclusions on the whole industry. Still, the research could be used by other companies involved in the ship-repair service sector in order to determine whether they experience similar problems and develop ways to solve them.
Moreover, there is a challenge of gathering accurate data. Even though participants will be guaranteed confidentiality, there are other factors, which influence their answers. For example, emotions might have a negative impact on the desire to be open during interviews as well as natural unsociability. To handle this problem, it is vital for the researcher to be friendly during the interviews and make up the questions in a way hinting to openness.
Qualitative research will be used as the tool for achieving central research objectives. The foundation of the research method is conducting interviews made up of phenomenological questions with a relatively small group of respondents working in one ship-repair company. The rationale for this decision is the fact that the proposed research focuses on the perceptions of occupational stress and ideas regarding the ways to reduce it. Bearing it in mind, qualitative research based on phenomenological approach is the most appropriate technique and choosing people working within one environment makes it possible to draw accurate conclusions for the chosen company regardless of a small sample.
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