South-Western - Management  
Who's the Most Stressed of All?
Topic Technology, Innovation and Change
Key Words Change, stress, work performance
InfoTrac Reference A109128308
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News Story

No one is immune to stress. It arises when employees worry that they can't cope. Experts point out that up to a certain point, an increase in pressure will improve performance and the quality of life, but when it becomes excessive, it loses its beneficial effect and becomes harmful.

Professor Cary Cooper, Lancaster University Management School in the U.K., is convinced that it is not the jobs themselves that are stressful, but the amount of change the job has undergone and the individual's reaction to that change. This is particularly true when it means that workers have less control.

It is possible to manage change in a job to minimize stress. Some recommended methods are:

  • Explain to the employees what the organization wants to achieve and why it is essential the change takes place.
  • Involve them in the planning process so they understand how their work fits in.
  • Give employees control over their pace of work and participation in decision-making during times of change.
  • Empower people to make decisions about the way they work.
  • Provide support, adequate training, constructive and supportive advice, regular team meetings, and opportunities for career development.
  • Don't make changes to the scope of someone's job or responsibilities without making sure the individual knows what is required of them and accepts it.

Adaptability is the best defense against stress. Make sure people are in the right job for them. Reasons a job may be stressful include:
  • Too much or too little to do
  • Boring and repetitive work
  • Role confusion
  • Lack of control
  • Lack of communication
  • Blame culture
  • Lack of support for individuals to develop their skills
  • Inflexible work schedules
  • Poor working relationships with others
  • Bullying, racial or sexual harassment
  • Physical danger and poor working conditions


All companies undergo change on a regular basis. Why is it important for a company to get involved in helping its employees manage stress during periods of change?

Source "Who's the Most Stressed of All?" Personnel Today Oct. 21, 2003, p. 52.
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