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Research Companion to Organizational Health Psychology

Edited by Alexander-Stamatios G. Antoniou and Cary L. Cooper

This timely Research Companion is essential reading to advance the understanding of healthy behaviours within working environments and to identify problems which can be the cause of illness. Containing both theoretical and empirical contributions written by distinguished academics working in Europe, North America and Australia, the book covers leading edge topics ranging from current theories of stress, stress management, and stress in specific occupational groups, such as doctors and teachers, to the relationship of stress with well-being. It provides systematic approaches towards practical actions and stress interventions in working environments and a solid theoretical framework for future research. It will be an essential companion to research on psychology and medicine as well as stress.
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Chapter 14: An Organizational Approach to Stress Management

Valerie J. Sutherland


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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