New Horizons in Management series
Edited by Alexander-Stamatios G. Antoniou and Cary L. Cooper
Chapter 14: An Organizational Approach to Stress Management
Valerie J. Sutherland The topic of stress management in the workplace has assumed a key position in the discipline of work psychology. Ascribed beneﬁts are in terms of business success and the good health and well-being of the workforce. Whilst interest in stress management in the workplace is considerable, it is not without criticism (Briner and Reynolds, 1999). In this chapter we address one of the criticisms of the traditional approach to stress management, namely the preoccupation of industry in focusing on interventions aimed at helping the individual employee to cope with stress, rather than ﬁnding ways of eliminating work-related stress. A traditional approach to stress management Typically the focus for stress management activities in the workplace has been on the individual employee. The person–environment ﬁt model for understanding stress (Harrison, 1985) describes this approach to stress control, where the state of stress is viewed as a lack of ﬁt between the person and the work environment. To understand the experience of stress it is necessary to consider the employee’s subjective perception of the work environment, and his or her perceived ability to meet demand. Factors such as needs, wants, attitudes, desires, personality, age, gender, education and experience will inﬂuence both actual ability and the perceived ability to cope with a demand. When an imbalance or lack of ﬁt exists between perceived demand and the perception of one’s ability to meet that demand, the experience is described as ‘feeling stressed’ (Lazarus, 1996). Successful coping restores the imbalance,...
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