New Horizons in Management series
Edited by Janice Langan-Fox and Cary Cooper
Stress at work is common and is widely reported in surveys of working people across a range of industrialized societies and occupations within them. Self-reports and studies in which work stress is ascertained through interview show increasing rates of work stress and of attributed consequences in respect of mental health with anxiety and depression. In the UK, for example, the 2009 Psychosocial Working Conditions survey indicated that about 17 per cent of all working individuals thought their job was very or extremely stressful. Higher figures are reported from the USA. It appears that short-lived or infrequent episodes of stress pose little risk. But when people are confronted by such factors as undue psychological demands and unrelenting pressures related to workload and time, or a limited range of control of work patterns and decision making, or protracted uncertainty, they experience adverse psychological and physical reactions recognized as stress. This reaction differs from the challenge to take on tasks and problems that are rewarding to deal with, lie within their capabilities and bring satisfaction even when those challenges are associated with relief and tiredness when done. Challenge, with deadlines, can be exciting, zestful. Action is more energizing than inertia. Loss of work, through redundancy, sickness absence, or even retirement for some people, may be followed by a state of greater malaise and discontent than a previously stressful job. For many people the personal rewards are judged to outweigh, and to warrant, the cost of stress. It is to be expected that that...