What are the Common causes of Stress?

Stressors: A factor that causes stress.

Stress can be caused by a number of factors called stressors. Factors that create stress can be grouped into two major categories organizational and personal. Both directly affect employees and ultimately, their jobs.

Organizations have no shortage of factors that can cause stress. Pressure to avoid errors or complete tasks in a limited time period, a demanding supervisor and unpleasant coworkers are a few examples. The discussion that follows organizes stress factors into five categories; task, role and interpersonal demands; organization structure and organizational leadership.

Task demands are factors related to an employee’s job. They include the design of the person’s job (autonomy, task variety, degree of automation), working conditions and the physical work layout. Work quotas can put pressure on employees when their outcomes are perceived as excessive. The more interdependence between an employee’s tasks and the tasks of others the more potential stress there is. Autonomy on the other hand, tends to lessen stress. Jobs in which temperature, noise or other working conditions are dangerous or undesirable can increase anxiety. So, too can working in an overcrowded room or in a visible location where interruptions are constant.

Role conflicts: Work expectations that are hard to satisfy

Role overload: Having more work to accomplish than time permits.

Role ambiguity: When role expectations are not clearly understood.

Role demands relate to pressures placed on an employee as function of the particular role he or she plays in the organization. Role conflicts create expectations that may be hard to reconcile or satisfy. Role overload is experienced when the employee is expected to do more than time permits. Role ambiguity is created when role expectations are not clearly understood and the employee is not sure what he or she is to do.

The concept of roles and classified role stresses ten dimensions. These individual stressors are measured using an Organizational Role Stress (ORS) scale. The Ten role stressors identified are as follows:

1) IRD (Inter-Role Distance): conflict between organizational and non-organizational roles.
2) RS (Role Stagnation): a feeling of being stuck in the same role, with no opportunity for career progression.
3) REC (Role Expectation Conflict); conflicting expectations or demands from different role senders or significant others who have expectations from the role.
4) RE (Role Erosion): a feeling that functions in one’s role is being transferred to other roles per shared with them.
5) RO (Role Overload): a feeling that more is expected from the role than the individual is capable of handling alone.
6) RI (Role Isolation): lack of linkages of one’s role with other significant roles in the organization.
7) PI (Personal Inadequacy): arising out of a lack of knowledge; skills or abilities required to carry out one’s responsibilities effectively.
8) SRD (Self role Distance): conflicts between one’s values and self concepts with the requirements of one’s organizational role.
9) RA (Role Ambiguity): a lack of clarity about expectations of others concerning the role, or lack of feedback on how performance is appraised.
10) RIn (Resources Inadequacy): arising due to lack of adequate resources required for carrying one’s role effectively.

Interpersonal demands are pressure created by other employees. Lack of social support from colleagues and poor interpersonal relationships can cause considerable stress, especially among employees.

Organizations structure can increase stress. Excessive rules and an employee’s lack of opportunity to participate in decisions that affect him or her are examples of structural variables that might be potential sources of stress.
Organizational leadership represents the supervisory style of the organization’s company officials .Some mangers create a culture characterized by tension, fear and anxiety. They establish unrealistic Pressures to perform in the short run impose excessively tight controls and routinely fire employees who don’t measure up. This style of leadership flows down through the organization and affects all employees.

Personal factors that can create stress include family issues, personal economic problems and inherent personality characteristics because employees bring their personal problems to work with them. A full understanding of employees stress requires a manager to be understanding of these personal factors. Evidence also indicates that employees’ personalities have an effect on how susceptible they are to stress.