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Unit 13 Stress

Book Code MB 0038

Smita Choudhary Faculty OB & HR

Stress Management

Stress Management


Introduction Types of stress Potential sources of stress Consequences of stress Managing stress A suggested framework for stress management Crisis management

Stress Management


Stress is defined as a physical, mental or emotional response to events which cause mental or physical tension. Stress is a part of every ones life. But it should not be greater than an individuals capacity to handle stress. In such a case, it will cause mental and physical imbalance in the person. Stress should work as a productive power and not as a restriction which can cause physical and mental imbalance.

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Learning Objectives
After this unit, you will be able to understand Types of stress Managing stress Crisis management

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Types of Stress
Stress can be 1) Physical This happens when the body suffers due to stressful situation. Symptoms of physical stress are

Headaches Tension in the neck, forehead and shoulder muscles

Long periods of stress can lead to

Digestive problems Ulcers Insomnia (lack of sleep) Fatigue (tiredness ) High blood pressure Nervousness Heart problems

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2) Emotional These happens when stress affects the mind. Symptoms of emotional stress are

Anxiety Anger Depression Frustration Over reaction to problems Memory loss Lack of concentration

Anxiety is response to loss, failure, or fear of the unknown. Anger is response to frustration or social stress. Depression is the response to upsetting events like death of a loved one, illness or failure.
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3) Psychological Stress for a long period of time may cause psychological problems in some individuals. Symptoms of psychological stress are
Social isolation Phobias Compulsive behavior Eating disorders Night terrors

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Stress is classified into two types:

Positive stress (Eustress) Negative stress (Distress)

A low level of stress can be handled by the body with the help of use of resources and it includes positive emotions, like, enjoyment, satisfaction, excitement, etc. This beneficial part of stress is defined by Selye (1974) as Eustress (EU means good). Excessive stress for long period of time may first cause an unpleasant feeling and then it may cause physical damage, fatigue and in extreme cases, death of an individual. This bad part of stress is defined by Selye as distress (dys means bad).
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Positive stress (Eustress) -Moderate and manageable levels of stress for a reasonable period of time can be handled by the body through mobilization of resources and is accompanied by positive emotions, such as, enjoyment, satisfaction, excitement and so on. Negative stress (Distress)- an overload of stress resulting from a situation of either over arousal or under arousal for long periods of time causes the following: first an unpleasant feeling, followed by physical damage, fatigue and in extreme cases, even death of an individual.

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A Model of Stress

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Potential Sources of Stress

1) Environmental Factors The uncertainty in environment affects stress level of employees in an organization. Changes in the business cycle cause economic uncertainties. Political uncertainties may also cause stress. Technological uncertainty may also cause stress because an employees skills and experience may become outdated due to new innovations.

Stress Management


2) Organizational factors Pressure to avoid errors or complete tasks within a fixed time, work overload, a demanding boss may cause stress. Job related factors like job design, working conditions and physical work layout may be causes of stress. Pressure on an individual due to his role in the organization is also a cause of stress.
Role conflict create expectations that may not be satisfied. Role overload, i.e., working more than permitted time. Role ambiguity is created when role expectations are not clearly understood.

The pressure created by other employees leads to stress. Organizational structure is also a cause of stress. Excessive rules and lack of participation in decisions are sources of stress. Stress Management


3) Individual Factors
These are factors in employees personal life. These include family issues, personal economic problems, and an individuals personality. Broken families and marriages and other family issues may cause stress at the workplace. Economic problems faced by individuals also leads to stress. A persons basic nature also affects stress. Over suspicious, anger, enmity, mistrust increases a persons stress and risk for heart diseases.

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4) Individual Differences
Perceptual variations of how reality will affect the individuals future

Greater job experience moderates stress effects

Social support buffers job stress Internal locus of control lowers perceived job stress Strong feelings of self-efficacy reduce reactions to job stress

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Consequences of Stress
Stress shows itself in three ways: Physiological symptoms Psychological symptoms Behavioral symptoms

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Physiological Symptoms

Earlier stress was mainly considered as physiological symptom because specialists in the health and medical sciences did research on the topic. But the physiological symptoms of stress have very little importance to students of Organizational Behavior.

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Psychological Symptoms

Job related stress can cause job related dissatisfaction. Job dissatisfaction is the simplest and most obvious psychological effect of stress (Robbins, 2003). High demands and lack of clarity about employees duties, authority and responsibilities increase stress and dissatisfaction. The less control people have on their speed of work, the more the stress and dissatisfaction.

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Behavioral Symptoms
Stress symptoms related to behavior are: Changes in productivity Absence Turnover Changes in eating habits Increased smoking or use of alcohol Sleep disorders Restlessness

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Preventive Stress management

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Managing Stress
Continue stress for long period of time, can lead to reduced employee performance and hence requires action by the management. 1) Individual Approaches Effective individual strategies include implementing time management techniques, increased physical exercise, relaxation training. Effective time management also helps in managing stress. Talking to friends, family or work colleagues also help to manage stress.

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2. Organizational approaches

Management may want to consider the following strategies: There can be an improvement in selecting people and they should be placed in the right job. This reduces chances of nonperformance and stress. Goals should be realistic. Redesigning the jobs can help to match individuals with their job and reduce stress. Training in stress management techniques can be helpful. Employee involvement should be increased. It improves motivation, morale and commitment and reduces stress. Communication in organization should be improved because it helps in creating transparency and reduces confusion, and hence reduces stress at work. Members of organization should be refreshed from time to time. This leads to increased productivity and reduced stress. It is done with the help of corporate wellness programmes.

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How can one find out what is optimal stress for an individual?

The person who likes disputes and likes to change jobs frequently, would feel stressed in a stable and routine job. The person who likes stable conditions would feel stressed in a job where duties change frequently. Personal stress requirements and the amount of stress that we can handle before surrendering changes with age. Many illnesses are related to continuous stress.

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How Can One Manage Stress Better?

1) Become aware of the stressors and the emotional and physical reactions: Find out what is causing distress. Find how the body responds to the stress 2) Recognize what can be changed: Is it possible to change the stressors? Can their intensity be reduced? Can the individuals exposure to stress be reduced?

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3) Reduce the intensity of the emotional reactions to stress: Stress is caused by our perception of danger: physical danger or emotional danger. Are we trying to please everyone? Are we overreacting to situations? We should try to see stress as something that we can handle rather than something that rules us. This reduces stress internally. 4) Learning to moderate our physical reactions to stress: Slow, deep breathing helps to bring heart rate to normal. Relaxation techniques reduce muscle tension. Medication also helps to regulate the physical reactions. Individuals should learn to control these reactions on their own.

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5) Build our physical reserves To remain physically fit, an individual must do exercises for fitness of the heart like walking, swimming, cycling or jogging. Diet should be well-balanced and nutritious. Weight should be maintained. Avoid nicotine, caffeine and other stimulants to reduce stress. Do some leisure activity and take breaks from routine work to reduces stress. Sleep should be proper. 6) Maintaining our emotional reserves Develop friendships and share your emotions. This helps in reducing stress. Try to achieve realistic goals and not goals set by others for you. Expect for some frustrations, sorrows and failures in life. This helps us to mentally prepare ourselves in handling stress.

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Crisis Management
1. 2.

3. 4.

It is the systematic attempt to avoid organizational crises or to manage those crises events that do occur (Pearson & Clair, 1998). A crisis is a major, unpredictable event that harms an organization and its stakeholders. Organizational crises are of four types: Sudden crises: fire, explosion, natural disasters, workplace violence, etc. Smoldering crises: Problems or issues that were small in the beginning and could have been fixed if someone was paying attention. Bizarre: A very unusual or strange crises like finger in the Wendys Restaurant Chilli. Perceptual crises: The crises Problem Procter & Gamble used to have with their previous corporate logo consisting of half moon and stars, which people say were symbols of devilworship and hence people rejected P&G products.
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Benefits of Crisis Management management are The main benefits of crisis

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

It helps to analyze the situation from inside and outside the organization as stakeholders might perceive it. Techniques to prevent the possible spread of damage are developed. It provides better organizational toughness for all stakeholders. It helps organizations to follow regulatory and ethical requirements, like, corporate social responsibility. Helps in better management of serious incidents or any incident that could become serious.

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7. 8.


It improves awareness of the staff about their roles and expectations within the organization. Increases ability, confidence and morale within the organization. It helps in better and improved risk management so that risks are identified and reduced. It helps to protect and improve the reputation of the organization and reduces the risk of post event legal actions.

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