Organisational Behaviour

Stress – Meaning, Characteristics And Causes Of Stress

Stress – It refers to the bodily strain that an individual feels as a result of coping with some environmental factors.

Stress managementStress management refers to the process through which stress can be controlled. It must, however, be kept in mind that the stress management never talks of eliminating stress thoroughly.

Characteristics Of Stress

(1) It is the result of Environmental Factors – Stress is the outcome of environmental factors. Environment means the sum total of all the factors that surround us on all sides and thus affect us, e.g. Job, Economic Condition, Technical Changes, Social Help, Organisational Policies, etc. For example, if a person happens to be holding some important position, he will always be under stress. Similarly, if the economic condition of a person is not good, he will also remain under stress.

(2) It may be Positive or Negative – Stress can have both positive and negative effects. Its positive effect is that stress helps us in doing something which in turn increases our efficiency and we make some progress, on the other hand, its negative effect results in sadness, anger, disbelief, etc.

(3) It may be Temporary or Long-run – The nature of stress can be temporary or prolonged one. There are many situations in life when one gets rid of stress quite easily and quickly. On the contrary, there are certain situations which prolong the presence of stress and in such a situation it gives rise to dangerous diseases.

(4) It Represents a Very Significant Cost to Organisations – Stress and efficiency are negatively corelated. If the employees are under stress, their efficiency will be reduced and vice-versa. Stress reduces efficiency as a result of which costs go up. Stress constitutes an important part of any organisation’s costs. Those organisations which want to control their costs, they shall have to control the stress costs before handling their other costs like-material, labour, etc.

(5) It may Result in Multiple Deviations – Because of stress, many deviations can be observed in an individual, e.g., physical, psychological and behavioural. Physical deviation results in high blood pressure and heart diseases. Psychological deviation chiefly results in depression. SimilarÅ‚y, behavioural deviation results in absenteeism and aggression.

(6) It is Individualistic – Stress affects individuals differently. Some people have greater degree of toleration and they face stress very bravely. They are not afraid of it and usually get encouraged by it. They start putting in more work . On the contrary, some people get nervous. They have very little resistance. They start trembling on even facing stress related with daily problems. Thus, a similar type of stress affects different people differently.

Causes of Stress

As important question is as to why an individual comes under stress. The cause resulting in stress are called stressors. They can be divided into five categories.

(l) Organisational Stressors

(1) Organisational Policies – A company takes decision and formulates policies for the guidance of its employees. A particular policy can be against the expectations of a particular employee. If it is so, this policy will create stress for that employee.

(2) Organisational Processes – Many processes are at work in every organisation. They are Communication Process, Decision -making Process, Staffing Process, Controlling Process, etc. If these processes happen to be ambiguous, long and difficult, they create stress for the employees.

(3) Organisational Structure – Organisational structure divides into different levels, e.g., higher level, middle-level, lower-level, etc. Under this the work is distributed. Rules are laid down for the smooth running (functioning) of the organisation. Authorities and responsibilities are determined. If the levels of management happen to be more or less than the actual need, it is a source of anxiety for the employees which causes stress. 

(4) Working Conditions – The conditions under which the employees work can also cause stress per or helpful, e.g., little or insufficient light, great noise, presence of dust, inconvenient rature, etc.

(II) Personal Stressors

(1) Job – There is no job which is without stress. It is, however, possible that a particular job may have less stress while another job may be more stressful. Often it has been observed that a job that is completely under our control has little stress and vice-versa. For example, the job of a surgeon and a police officer has more stress.

(2) Uncertainty – Since future is uncertain, everybody’s life has more uncertainties. Even then some people who are economically or otherwise strong do not care for the future uncertainties. These people have the capacity to face any adverse situation boldly. As a result, they remain stress free. On the contrary, those people who are afraid of future uncertainties, they start feeling stressed quickly. 

(3) Life Changes – In everybody’s life there are two types of changes. Firstly, those changes which occur slowly, e.g., advancing age, and secondly, those changes which are quick and sudden. Those changes that occur slowly are less stressful. On the contrary, quick and sudden changes are more stressful.

(III) Group Stressors

(1) Lack of Group Membership – No individual can spend his life happily all alone. In other words, every individual should be the member of some group or the other in order to live happily. It is because of the fact that the group helps its members in every possible way and they feel themselves to be independent. If some individual does not have this good fortune, he can come under stress.

(2) Group Conflicts – It is clear that every individual is associated with some group or the other Consequently, many groups are formed and every group has many members. When there are so many people in a group, difference of opinion in such cases is natural. Such a situation creates conflicts within the group. Because of these conflicts the members of the groups are always under stress.

(IV) Environmental Stressors 

(1) Economic Conditions – In an age of quickly rising prices, it is becoming difficult for the fixed income group people to make both ends meet. Such an economic condition pushes people towards stress.

(2) Political Conditions – Political instability in the country can be a cause of stress.

(3) Family Conditions – Every individual has a family. He is deeply attached to his family. Every big or small mishap in the family is a source of stress for him.

(V) Job Related

(1) Poorly Defined Role – Generally, all the employees working in a company have their role/job defined. It implies that every employee is made clear about what he is to do and what not. If the role/job of the employees is not clearly defined, they will not be able to understand what they are to do and what not. In such a situation they will begin to feel stress, which will affect their efficiency.

(2) Value Differences – It is possible that there may be a difference between the values of the employee and those of the job. For example, the employee himself wants to work very honestly, but wrong practices are in currency in the job. In such a situation, due to the difference in values, the employee begins to feel stress.

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