Proposed Project: Identifying problematic stress with in service oriented businesses
Work can cause stress and also be affected by it. Stress causes many problems for American businesses today. One of the major sources of stress in a person's life can be his or her job. Deadlines, problems with coworkers, boss trouble, and long hours can all contribute to feelings of being overwhelmed and helpless. Fortunately, there are ways to combat the stress that the workplace can bring. Often, researchers define stress as the psychological and physiological conditions that a person experiences when they perceive a situation as threatening, harmful, or demanding. This means that whenever we experience a change in our environment, we may experience stress. Whether we do or not depends on how we perceive the event.
So what is stressful for one person might not be for another. Many factors influence how you interpret events including. At a personal level, work stressors are related to depression, anxiety, general mental distress symptoms, heart disease, ulcers, and chronic pain (Sauter, Hurrell, & Cooper, 1989). Employees who are unable to exert control over their lives at work are more likely to experience work stress and are therefore more likely to have impaired health (see Sutton & Kahn, 1984) In general, job control is the ability to exert influence over one's environment so that the environment becomes more rewarding and less threatening. Stress can come from many different sources. Stress from your personal life can also compound problems in the workplace. Thus, further research must address problematic stress with-in service oriented businesses in order to promote a productive, less aggravated, sounder, medium in the work place.
In the work place, service oriented jobs can be an extreme workload, not only in terms of number of hours of work expected, but also in terms of the complexity of the work and frequent change in work demands, sometimes associated with rapid advances in technology. Another is ambiguity as to the worker's rights, responsibilities, status, and goals; with such role ambiguity, the worker may experience a sense of loss control and autonomy on the job. Insufficient resources to accomplish the job and administrative indifference or interference also create stress. The increased specialization of many jobs results in fragmentation of work. The worker is involved with only one small segment of producing the total product or providing services to the customer, a loss of sense of accomplishment and autonomy may result.
Thus, the purpose of this proposal is to identify stressful situations and issues that influence performance in the work place the results of the analysis will be used to enhance understanding of service oriented work stress issues as well as proactive and remedial solutions for aimed at this problem. Therefore, the study will have practical implications for training in identifying stressful situations and issues that influence performance in the work place. In addition, it will increase our theoretical understanding of the performance reducing stress agents that take place in the service-oriented businesses.
RATIONALE AND SIGNIFICANCE.
Job stress has been recognized as a major cause of health problems at work (Karasek & Theorell, 1990). A work-related problem of increasing concern is known as "burnout". The topic began to gain attention in the mid-1970s with a book by Freudenberger (1974). Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary defines stress as "the result produced when a structure, system or organism is acted upon by forces that disrupt equilibrium or produce strain". In simpler terms, stress is the result of any emotional, physical, social, economic, or other factors that require a response or change. It is generally believed that some stress is okay (sometimes referred to as "challenge"or "positive stress") but when stress occurs in amounts that you cannot handle, both mental and physical changes may occur. Stress among employees within a service based business environment has been a study of interest since the early 1960s, researchers have been examining the psychosocial and physical demands of the work environment that trigger stress. Research has identified many organizational factors contributing to increased stress levels: (a) job insecurity; (b) shift work; (c) long work hours; (d) role conflict; (e) physical hazard exposures; and (f) interpersonal conflicts with coworkers or supervisors.
Stress in the workplace can have many origins or come from one single event. It can impact on both employees and employers alike (Canadian Mental Health Association, 1995). The New York-based American Institute of Stress reports that as many as 75 to 90 percent of visits to physicians are related to stress. (Paul J. Rosch, M.D., F.A.C.P. President, The American Institute of Stress). 43% of all adults suffer adverse health effects due to stress. Stress has been linked to all the leading causes of death, including heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis, and suicide. An estimated 1 million workers are absent on an average workday because of stress related complaints. Stress is said to be responsible for more than half of the 550,000,000 workdays lost annually because of absenteeism. (The American Institute of Stress) One context that merits additional attention to the area of identifying stressful situations and issues that influence performance in the work place was the statement from the Xerox Corporation estimates that it costs approximately $1-$1.5 million to replace a top executive, and average employee turnover costs between $2,000 - $13,000 per individual. (Paul J. Rosch, M.D., F.A.C.P. President, The American Institute of Stress). Problematic stress within the work place is a significant issue that needs extreme attention.
The research objective include identifying problematic stress issues with in a service oriented business work environment, as well as solutions for to relive stressful situations. For example, one problematic stress issue discovered in the service oriented business involved New York, Urban bus drivers endure so much job stress that they suffer from more health risks and medical disabilities than peers in comparable jobs (Cornell University News 2000). The psychosocial stressors included relentless time pressures to be punctual, which were frustrated by the need to drive safely and provide accurate and courteous information to passengers. In addition, bus drivers felt stressed by the risk of physical assault and problems of unruly passengers. One way organizations addressed this issue was by reducing traffic congestion, driving impediments and time pressures by regulating that private vehicles give way to buses, broadening roads in problem areas, changing routes to prevent sharp turns and "bottlenecks," extending separate bus lanes, reducing number of bus stops, automating some traffic lights to turn green with oncoming busses, and improving routes. In addition, the researchers reduced passenger questions by implementing an automated passenger information system.
Drivers who participated in the project reported reduced stress on the job and lighter workloads. The researchers found these drivers used significantly fewer drugs to cope with job stress, showed significantly fewer psychosomatic symptoms, and had lower blood pressure and heart rates than before the intervention. Thus, this proposed study will extend our understanding of work related stress in a service-oriented business between employees and managerial personal, through examinations of actual experiences. Inductive analysis and interpretation of the results will be used to construct a theoretical model of work-oriented stress, identifying both problematic issues and strategies for reducing stress within the work place. In accomplishment, this objective will provide heuristic value for further elaboration of Identifying problematic stress with in service-oriented businesses.
The purpose of this study is to Identify problematic stress with in service-oriented businesses. Data collected will rely on interviews with employees and managers in service oriented businesses with in the Stockton area. Access to participants will be facilitated by personal referrals. An extensive list of local organizations, which may be interested in participating in this study, has been compiled based on the researcher’s personal and professional affiliations. Interviews will begin with an ethics statement, which informs the participant of the purpose of the study, assures them that their participation is voluntary, and provides them with a guarantee of individual and organizational anonymity. The interview will then process with open ended questions designed to ascertain the participants experience and background, as well as their specific role responsibilities and details of their service oriented job experiences. Interview participants will provide descriptions of recalled problems that result to stress. These will include a description of what actually occurred, with a comparison of what they thought should have occurred. Towards the end of the interview, the researcher will reiterate key points of the problematic communication situations and ask the participant for the kind of advice they would offer for dealing with these issues in service oriented jobs.
The open coding of interview transcriptions will incorporate systematic approaches to inductive analysis (Lincoln & Guba, 1985; Struass & Corbin, 1990). This includes a process of discover categories” by “grouping together concepts that seem to pertain to the same phenomena” (Strauss & Corbin, 1990, p.62) through which emergent categories are specified and compared to other categories, in order to clarify the parameters as well as the relationship of separate categories to one another. Therefore, the analysis will involve an ongoing refining process, working on clarifying both the concept and the categories.
INSTRUCTIONAL AND CURRICULAR APPLICATIONS
Further research probing the subject of stress within a service-oriented job can enhance understanding of how to cope and avoid stressful situations when working. In working within the area of Stockton, this study can demonstrate California State University Stanislaus commitment to establishing mutually beneficial partnership with this community. The research will offer training services to organizations that participate in the study. In addition, the information will make valuable contribution to a course to be proposed for the fall 2001 focused on stress in the work place. As the studies grow interdisciplinary interests will also be able to make the finding useful in such disciplines as business and sociology.
TIME LINE AND RESULTS
The research will conduct interviews in the spring semester of 2001. Data analysis and report writing will be completed during the spring semester of 2001.
The project will finish in a report to organizational participants, which includes analytical summaries of the problematic stress within the work place. The finding will also be dispersed to the academic community with presentations at professional conferences and journal publications.
PROJECT DIERECTOR’S BACKGROUND
The researcher on this project is uniquely qualified for this research. He has nine years of previous experience in the service industry and four years experience in management and administration allowing him to understand the complexities of the human resource management issues. In addition the researcher is in his last semester as an Organizational Communications major at the California State University Stanislaus.
The American Institute of Stress, 124 Park Ave., Yonkers, NY 10703 WWW.stress.org
Canadian Mental Health Association - National Office. Home Page located at: http://www.cmha.ca/)
Cornell University News (2000) Cornell University, Ithaca, NY [email protected]
Karasek, R.A. and Theorell, T. 1990, Healthy work, (Basic Books, New York).
Sauter, S., Hurrell, J. Jr., Cooper, C. (Eds.). (1989). Job control and worker health. New York: Wiley.
Stefan M. Freudenberger, Jacob T. Schwartz, Micha Sharir: Experience with the SETL Optimizer. TOPLAS 5(1): 26-45 (1983)
Strauss, A. & Corbin, J. (1990). Basics of qualitative research. Newbury Park: Sage.
Sutton, R., & Kahn, R. L. (1984). Prediction, understanding, and control as antidotes to organizational stress. In J. Lorsch (Ed.), Handbook of organizational behavior. Boston, MA: Harvard University Press.
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