Factors Which Lead to Stress in the Workplace
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Phones 4 you Case Study
Chapter One: Introduction
Phones 4u is a large independent mobile phone retailer in the UK. Since opening in 1996, it expanded to 400 stores throughout the United Kingdom. Head office is based in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire and was until recently part of the The Caudwell Group formed by John Caudwell. In September 2006 the group was sold and Phones 4u is now owned by Providence Equity Partners (Minter, 2003, 18)
Stress is the condition that results when person-environment transactions lead the individual to perceive a discrepancy, whether real or not, between the demands of a situation and the resources of the person's biological, psychological or social systems. In medical terms, stress is the disruption of homeostasis through physical or psychological stimuli. Stressful stimuli can be mental, physiological, anatomical or physical reactions.
Lost car keys, tardiness, family death, and loss of job, pressure, frustration, and social changes-these are different types of stress, the process by which one appraises and copes with environmental threats and challenges. The events of daily life flow through a psychological filter that helps a person the react in certain ways. Some stress early in life is conducive to later emotional and physical growth. But stresses, or conflicts, can also threaten a person's life as well and health (Amatea, 1991, 48).
Behavioral psychologists have determined there is a correlation between stress and the declination on one's behavior. One may increase his usage of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs to escape his stressful state. Other problems include arguing with friends, neglecting appearance, crying easily, difficulty concentrating, and withdrawing from family and friends. In extreme cases, stress can cause insanity.
Emotional changes are also a common effect of stress. Symptoms include anger, anxiety, depression, nervousness, loneliness, and rejection. Changes in emotional state may lead to psychological disorders or even death, if not treated. Suicide is among the leading outcomes of stress-related depression (aspinwall, 1992, 48).
Not only does stress effect one's emotional and behavioral states, buy it also plays a large role in one's physical state. Symptoms of stress include, but are not limited to, allergies, back pain, respiratory infections, fatigue, headaches, muscle tension, sleeping problems, and dizziness. British scientist Hans Selye made a basic point of stress. It states that although the human body comes designed to cope with temporary stress, prolonged stress can produce physical deterioration. MRI brain scans of people who have experienced a prolonged amount of stress often show the results of a shrunken hippocampus, the inner brain structure vital to laying down explicit memories. Stress can put people at risk for one of today's four leading causes of serious illness and death: heart disease, cancer, stroke, and chronic lung disease. Such findings were proven true by studies done by cardiologists Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman in 1956. Psychophysiological illnesses are stress-related. They are illnesses, such as high blood pressure, that are caused by high levels of stress. Immune responses may also be effected by stress. They can either speed up or slow down causing a variety of illnesses such as lupus or multiple sclerosis. Stress does not make one sick, but it does restrain one's immune functioning, making him more vulnerable to foreign invaders (Bandura, 1986, 58).
Stress in unavoidable. If one can not eliminate stress by changing or ignoring a situation, one must learn to manage it by confronting or escaping the problem. Stress management may include aerobic exercise, relaxation, and social support. Without knowledge of stress and ways to manage it, people are more susceptible of disease and psychological disorders.
There are various sources of stress. The very definition of stress is: A mentally or emotionally disruptive or upsetting condition occurring in response to adverse external influences and capable of affecting physical health, usually characterized by increased heart rate, a rise in blood pressure, muscular tension, irritability, and depression. A stimulus or circumstance causing such a condition. In today's world of competition and success, the limits of our threshold are being pushed to succeed. Success is the driving force behind many people pushing their bodies to the limits. A human body needs a delicate balance between work, and relaxation. When this equilibrium is not maintained, problems occur, which might have repercussions later. These repercussions take the forms of Burnouts, break-downs, and sometimes extreme cases of heart attacks.
In most cases of the systems breaking down, there are methods of control and mechanisms of improvement of the situation. Stress can be handled very effectively in today's world. Healthy and wholesome living is the new day mantra for better work efficiencies.
What causes stress?
There are various triggers to stress. Work, personal life and external factors (Banyard, 1993, 45).
Work: the pressures of work are one of the greatest factors contributing to the high stress levels today. Long working hours, constant pressures of deadlines, and the inevitable fear of job security pushes people to work very hard.
Personal Life: outside the work place, people are always subject to constant pressures from family, friends, and well wishers. Handling these pressures in the most effective way is the tact of the new manager. Family life can cause stress, especially if there is some friction between partners, the ill heath or sudden death of a partner can cause great levels of stress.
External factors: personal finances, world events and other non classifiable events also add to stress. Time management or lack of thereof is another cause of external factors of stress.
How does one handle stress?
There are several ways of fighting stress in one's life. This essay will briefly attempt to touch base with some important methods which can be imbibed in handling stress.
1) Time Management: Time management is one of the greatest methods of combating stress especially in the workplace. Effective time management helps us prioritizing, planning, allocating and executing effective schedules in order to maximize our most valuable resource, time. Once a person has been able to handle time effectively, he or she would be able to handle many tasks which have been allocated (Baruch, 1987, 59).
2) Health: stress has a great impact on the personal health of the individual. Ageing is speeded up and white hair apparently comes aplenty. Living a healthy life helps in handling stress better. A regular routine, the offshoot of effective time management, allows us time to regularly exercise. Exercise, as many say release endorphins, these help combat stress and depression, a stress induced side effect. Healthy foods, such as greens, and maintaining a balanced diet are some other ways, which when coupled with exercise help us maintain a healthy body.
3) Non Conventional Methods: going back to the basics is a term that is used very regularly today. When one says going back to the basics, it includes going back to the past. Yoga, pranayama and other methods of controlling the mind, body and soul, have existed in our country for a very long time. This is fast gaining popularity as methods of combating stress. Yoga has immense powers to help us maintain our minds and body in shape.
From the above, we can see one of the greatest factors of handling stress is to maintain a healthy mind, body and soul. Prevention is better than cure, preventing stress by having a healthy life style and a healthy mind, is a plus point which has no substitute in today's world. However there is no effective way of handling self induced stress. Calming the mind and regulated breathing can ease the stress, but it will be rendered ineffective if the person is not willing to practice it in the positive way (Bem, 1981, 49).
Stress is one of the greatest hindrances to efficient productivity in todays workplace. Production efficiency is the key word today and this does face a serious threat with stress. Combating stress on a war footing is the need of the hour, and some of the above points will assist in effective stress management through a healthy mind , body and soul.
Stress is a combination of responses in the body. Stress can be short-term (acute) or chronic. Acute stress is the fight or flight response. If a car is careening toward you at a high rate of speed, you will (or should!) experience acute stress. It is when you experience so many common stressors, such as heavy traffic, noise, money worries, illnesses, relationship problems, rising crime rates, or work frustrations, that stress takes a chronic form. In the short term, stress can be vital. Over time, it turns destructive .
How destructive can stress be on your body? Research has shown that prolonged stress can produce actual tissue changes and organ dysfunction. With the new MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) techniques, scientists are able to prove visibly that chronic stress can shrink an area in the brain called the hypothalamus. Read More On This They have found that the brains of war veterans, as well as women who have been victims of childhood sexual abuse, have a marked reduction in the size of their hypothalamus (Betz, 1987, 29).
Stress also affects your brain by releasing powerful chemical messengers called neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine (also called adrenaline). The hypothalamic/pituitary-adrenal portion of your brain releases steroid hormones, including the primary stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol affects systems throughout your body, including an increased heart rate.
Your heart, lungs, and circulatory system are influenced by the increased heart rate. Blood flow may increase 300 to 400 percent. Blood pressure increases and breathing becomes rapid. Your mouth and throat may become dry. Skin may become cool and clammy because blood flow is diverted away so it can support the heart and muscle tissues. Even digestive activity shuts down.
Once again, occasional stress is normal. Once you've handled the situation, the stress goes away and you heal from the episode. But, if stressors accumulate over time, eventually the body becomes inefficient at handling even the least amount of stress. The brain, heart, lungs, vessels, and muscles become so chronically over or under activated that they become damaged. It is this sort of stress which may trigger or worsen heart disease, strokes, susceptibility to infection, sleep disturbances, sexual and reproductive dysfunction, memory and learning dysfunction, digestive problems, weight problems, diabetes, pain, and skin disorders.
Extensive multidisciplinary studies have presented unequivocal evidence that our psychological responses to stress and our perceptions of stress to a considerable extent affect our susceptibility to disease. In active relationship, the immune, neuroendocrine, and nervous systems respond to the brain and psyche. Virtually all illnesses, from the flu to cancer, are influenced for good or bad by our thoughts and feelings. R. Lloyd, 1990 Healing Brain: A Scientific Reader (Betz, 1987, 48)
Statement of the Research Problem
How do the employees cope with stress in the workplace to achieve a more balanced lifestyle at Phones 4 you ? Stress is a part of everybody's life. Depending on the level of stress, it can control our lives, especially in the workplace. We begin to spend several long hours at work, and thus have less time for other things. Stressed employees may be unhappy and thus produce nominally. Stress can deteriorate social and family relationships and eventually burn you out; ultimately it can take toll on your health. Organizations need to recognize stress as a problem and decide whether or not to act upon it.
This question needs to be answered because stress is a problem that Phones 4 you must deal with; stress can cause poor work performance and lower employee morale. These factors can increase employee turnover rate and lessen quality of life. We all must deal with stress; question is how we handle and control it. With downsizing the buzz word in the modern corporate world, companies have become mean and lean. Employees are compelled to be more efficient Phones 4 you; they find themselves taking on the work of what used to be two. The result is longer hours, less time for outside activities, and consequently increased stress.
According to Business Week, the typical British works 47 hours a week, and if current trends continue, in 20 years 'the average person would be on the job 60 hours a week.' Another factor that increases stress is technological advancements. With all the new technology one is always connected to work and accessible 24 hours a day 7 days a week. According to Business Week, it is now possible, and thus increasingly expected, for employees to be accessible and productive any hour, any day (Bollen, 1993, 18).
At a workplace, one observes several sales people working long hours, claiming it is due to under staffing. Employees reach a point of diminishing returns. The more hours they work, the less productive they are. This stressful condition causes the quality of work to dwindle. Consequently, clients recognize this, and eventually they terminate the business relationship. Soon the company loses, as it is built on these clients (Moos, 1989, 58).
Statement of the Objectives
This research expects to discuss factors which lead to stress in the workplace at Phones 4 you. Are individuals stressed in the workplace at Phones 4 you? What causes stress in the workplace Phones 4 you? Who is mostly stressed: men or women? Are individuals being exposed to stress management techniques? Should employers implement stress management techniques? as a future manager, I would like to be able to determine if stress is a problem for employees; if so, implement a strategy to curtail stress in the workplace. By recognizing stress in the workplace, employers can act appropriately to reduce stress. The outcome can benefit social and family relationships, as well as preserve ones health and make us more productive in our organizations (Moos, 1982, 25).
The research project will comprise of a sample size of 30 individuals, randomly selected from general business areas. The study will analyze stress factors in the U.K workforce and its impact on the British organization. Effective stress management techniques will then be presented, which will allow individuals or organizations to implement. Secondary information from various sources will be utilized to explore effective methods of coping with stress. The conclusions and recommendations I will draw will be applicable to any British organization with stress as a problem. Although this study will generalize from the small population, it can be used as a starting point to recognizing the problem, as each organization can require a different approach (Parkes, 1986, 36).
The sources utilized in the research will be extracted from current articles (2006-present) from online services, the Internet, and public libraries. A survey will be given to individuals of randomly chosen organizations and will not target any specific company or industry. Due to time constraints, the population will be limited to 30 individuals. The research will explore factors causing stress in the workplace and its impact on organizations. Effective methods of coping with stress will be given, but limited to ones examined in the secondary resources (Portello, 1996, 548).
The project will focus on stress factors in the workplace and effective methods to balance a healthy lifestyle. The sample group will consist of 30 individuals randomly selected from general business areas. The survey will be conducted during lunch periods when several employees leave and return to the workplace. The questionnaire will attempt to see if the sample individuals believe stress is a problem and what can be done to resolve it. The questionnaire will be delivered in person and each individual will fill out the survey at that point.
Since the survey will be conducted in a general public area, no authorization is needed to administer. Once I receive all the surveys, I will quantify the data into an Excel spreadsheet. I will report the data mostly in percentages (e.g. 70percent of the individuals acknowledge that stress is a problem in the workplace). The data will be utilized to see if stress is a factor impacting the British workforce. Stress management techniques will be presented where appropriate (Browne, 1993, 578).
Chapter Two: Literature Review
Stress is an adaptive response. It is the body's reaction to an event that is seen as emotionally disturbing, disquieting, or threatening. When we perceive such an event, we experience what stress researchers call the fight or flight response. To prepare for fighting or fleeing, the body increases its heart rate and blood pressure; more blood is then sent to your heart and muscles, and your respiration rate increases (Carmines, 1981, 48).
Stress is both positive and negative. Good stress is a balance of arousal and relaxation that helps you concentrate, focus, and achieve what you want. Bad stress is constant stress and constant arousal that may lead to high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and worse. The body does not distinguish between negative and positive stress. The same physiological responses can take place whether you are happy or sad about a given situation.
When extending to the workplace, stress may lead to poor work performance and end up costing an organizations several thousands of dollars. The organization loses on salary because they are not receiving satisfactory production and if the employee becomes ill, health and workers compensation rates can soar . The organization must decide whether or no to implement a stress management program, since there are several external stressors that can overtake an individual. Internal stressors, within organizations include technology and corporate downsizing which leads to longer hours and job uncertainty. If one does not know how to manage stress, it can get out of control ) (Rock, 1997, 4).
Analyzing Stress on Individuals
In a 1995 survey of 1,705 respondents it is analyzed that stress rises with level of education and job level and is higher than average for women (Robinson, 1996, 88). Fifty-eight percent of the women respondents possess moderate to a lot of stress in the workplace compared to 53 percent of men. From the divorced individuals, 62 percent are stressed in the workplace compared to married and never married at 57 percent, and 58 percent respectively. The widowed respondents maintain the least stress at 38 percent (Robinson, 1996, 48).
College graduate respondents possess more stress at 64 percent than high school graduates at 55 percent. Only 43 percent of the less than high school respondents felt stress in the workplace. Those with more education feel more stress, possibly because their jobs involve greater managerial and financial responsibility (Robinson, 1996, 87).
Stress is an epidemic in British life. In nationwide polls, 89 percent of Britishers reported that they often experience high levels of stress, and 59 percent claimed that they feel great stress at least once a week (Hellmich, 1994, 57). A five year study of the British workforce conducted by the Families and Work Institute showed that 30 percent of employees often or very often feel burned out or stressed by their jobs, 27 percent feel emotionally drained from their work, and 42 percent feel used up at the end of the work day (Hellmich, 1994, 4). Balancing work pressures and family responsibilities leaves many workers feeling burned out.
Examining the Effects of Downsizing on Stress
The downsizing of organizations have caused a stressful environment. Downsizing has created concerns over job security, and has forced employees to take on a larger workload. According to a local union representing U.K. West stated that work still needs to be done, but with fewer people (Scott, 1996, 41). Downsizing creates quantitative and qualitative stress. Quantitative stress pertains to doing the same amount of work with fewer people. Reengineering the organization entails shaping the company to be more efficient with less individuals. These individuals are asked to do a wider variety of work functions they are not trained to do, causing qualitative overload (Scott, 1996, 35).
Occupational Stress is the harmful physical and emotional response that occurs when there is a poor match between job demands and the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker. Stress-related disorders encompass a broad array of conditions, including psychological disorders (e.g., depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder) and other types of emotional strain (e.g., dissatisfaction, fatigue, tension, etc.), maladaptive behaviours (e.g., aggression, substance abuse), and cognitive impairment (e.g., concentration and memory problems). In turn, these conditions may lead to poor work performance or even injury. Job stress is also associated with various biological reactions that may lead ultimately to compromised health, such as cardiovascular disease (Rosenfield, 1989, 5).
Stress is a prevalent and costly problem in today's workplace. About one-third of workers report high levels of stress. One-fourth of employees view their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives. Three-fourths of employees believe the worker has more on-the-job stress than a generation ago. Evidence also suggests that stress is the major cause of turnover in organizations (Scheier, 1985, 65).
Health and Healthcare Utilization
Problems at work are more strongly associated with health complaints than are any other life stressor-more so than even financial problems or family problems. Many studies suggest that psychologically demanding jobs that allow employees little control over the work process increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. On the basis of research by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and many other organizations, it is widely believed that job stress increases the risk for development of back and upper-extremity musculoskeletal disorders. High levels of stress are associated with substantial increases in health service utilization. Workers who report experiencing stress at work also show excessive health care utilization. In a 1998 study of 46,000 workers, health care costs were nearly 50% greater for workers reporting high levels of stress in comparison to low risk workers. The increment rose to nearly 150%, an increase of more than $1,700 per person annually, for workers reporting high levels of both stress and depression. Additionally, periods of disability due to job stress tend to be much longer than disability periods for other occupational injuries and illnesses (Schwartz, 1993, 58).
Causes of Occupational Stress
Job stress results from the interaction of the worker and the conditions of work. Views differ on the importance of worker characteristics versus working conditions as the primary cause of job stress. The differing viewpoints suggest different ways to prevent stress at work. According to one school of thought, differences in individual characteristics such as personality and coping style are most important in predicting whether certain job conditions will result in stress-in other words, what is stressful for one person may not be a problem for someone else. This viewpoint leads to prevention strategies that focus on workers and ways to help them cope with demanding job conditions. Although the importance of individual differences cannot be ignored, scientific evidence suggests that certain working conditions are stressful to most people. Such evidence argues for a greater emphasis on working conditions as the key source of job stress, and for job redesign as a primary prevention strategy. Personal interview surveys of working conditions, including conditions recognized as risk factors for job stress, were conducted in Member States of the European Union in 1990, 1995, and 2000. Results showed a trend across these periods suggestive of increasing work intensity. In 1990, the percentage of workers reporting that they worked at high speeds at least one-fourth of their working time was 48%, increasing to 54% in 1995 and to 56% in 2000. Similarly, 50% of workers reported they work against tight deadlines at least one-fourth of their working time in 1990, increasing to 56% in 1995 and 60 % in 2000. However, no change was noted in the period 1995–2000 (data not collected in 1990) in the percentage of workers reporting sufficient time to complete tasks. A substantial percentage of Britishers work very long hours. By one estimate, more than 26% of men and more than 11% of women worked 50 hours per week or more in 2000. These figures represent a considerable increase over the previous three decades, especially for women. According to the Department of Labour, there has been an upward trend in hours worked among employed women, an increase in extended work weeks (>40 hours) by men, and a considerable increase in combined working hours among working couples, particularly couples with young children (Shaw, 1993, 4).
Signs of Occupational Stress
Mood and sleep disturbances, upset stomach and headache, and disturbed relationships with family, friend and girl/boy friends are examples of stress-related problems. The effects of job stress on chronic diseases are more difficult to see because chronic diseases take a long time to develop and can be influenced by many factors other than stress. Nonetheless, evidence is rapidly accumulating to suggest that stress plays an important role in several types of chronic health problems-especially cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders, and psychological disorders (Sherer, 1982, 36).
A combination of organizational change and stress management is often the most useful approach for preventing stress at work.
How to Change the Organization to Prevent Job Stress
- Ensure that the workload is in line with workers' capabilities and resources.
- Design jobs to provide meaning, stimulation, and opportunities for workers to use their skills.
- Clearly define workers' roles and responsibilities.
- Give workers opportunities to participate in decisions and actions affecting their jobs.
- Improve communications-reduce uncertainty about career development and future employment prospects.
- Provide opportunities for social interaction among workers.
- Establish work schedules that are compatible with demands and responsibilities outside the job.
St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company conducted several studies on the effects of stress prevention programs in hospital settings. Program activities included (1) employee and management education on job stress, (2) changes in hospital policies and procedures to reduce organizational sources of stress, and (3) establishment of employee assistance programs. In one study, the frequency of medication errors declined by 50% after prevention activities were implemented in a 700-bed hospital. In a second study, there was a 70% reduction in malpractice claims in 22 hospitals that implemented stress prevention activities. In contrast, there was no reduction in claims in a matched group of 22 hospitals that did not implement stress prevention activities (Smith, 1981, 24).
Chapter Three: Research Methodology
The data reported here are from two separate data sets. In order to cross-validate the model, data from the original study of managerial women were used, and these included data from the first three assessments of a 2-year longitudinal study. In the original article (B. C. Long et al., 1992, 165), a conceptual model of stress and coping was tested and developed that was based on data from the first three assessments (Time 1 to Time 3) of 11 assessments completed over 2 years. Status, Sex Role Attitudes, and Agentic Traits were assessed at Time 1; Appraisals, Disengagement and Engagement Coping, Work Environment, and Daily Hassles were assessed at Time 2; and Distress and Satisfaction were assessed at Time 3. These data were used as a base to test the validity of the model on a new set of data obtained from clerical workers, data that have not been reported elsewhere (Snapp, 1992, 32).
The managerial women (n = 249) were employed in nontraditional occupations (i.e., fewer than 35% of British employees are women). Their mean age was 38.84 years (SD = 7.68, range = 22–66). More detailed descriptions of the managers' characteristics can be found in B. C. Long et al. (1992).
The clerical workers who participated were employed in both large and small organizations in the same large western British city in which the managers were employed. The clerical workers volunteered in response to written requests for participants that I circulated in the media and by networking. The notices were directed to full-time female clerical workers and indicated that the purpose of the study was to investigate how clerical workers experienced Occupational Stress. No incentives were offered other than a final summary report. Ðžf the 284 respondents who made contact by telephone, 273 met the criteria for inclusion (i.e., they were employed in a clerical position, worked more than 20 hours per week, and did not supervise others). Ðžf the 273 clerical workers who met the criteria and were distributed questionnaires at Time 1, 39 withdrew from the study because of lack of time to participate, 7 no longer met our criteria because of promotion, unemployment, or leave of absence from work (e.g., due to accident or illness), and 4 moved. The overall dropout rate was 18%. Dropout analyses were conducted on the demographic variables measured at Time 1. No differences were found between the retained (n = 223) and dropout (n = 50) respondents. Chi-square analyses of the demographic variables (marital status, education, number of children, job level, and size of the company) were not significant. Because 9 participants identified a personal rather than a work stressor, their data were omitted from the model testing.
All respondents were self-identified clerical workers. Job classifications included clerks (25%), secretaries–stenographers (23%), administrative assistants (34%), and others (18%). The mean age was 39.77 years (SD = 9.46, range = 22–63 years). Fifty-three percent of the clerical workers were married, 22% were single, and 25% were divorced, separated, or widowed. Fifty-three percent were parents. Twenty-four percent had a high school education or less, 42% had special training (e.g., secretarial, clerical), 17% had a college education (2 years postsecondary), and 13% had a university degree. Household incomes ranged from less than $25,000 (British) per year (23.4%) to over $61,000 (British) per year (27.5%). The major industries represented were education (31%), service (35%), utilities and public administration (12%), manufacturing and transportation (10%), and other (8%). On average the women had been in the workforce for 17.02 years (SD = 8.74, range = 1–42), with their organizations for 5.94 years (SD = 6.07, range = 0–29), and in their present positions for 4.63 years (SD = 5.67). The majority of women were employed in organizations of over 1,000 employees (47.5%) or fewer than 199 employees (38.1%). Ninety-eight percent of the sample were Caucasian.
Participation was voluntary, but the confidentiality of all individual data was guaranteed. I followed data collection procedures similar to those used in the managers' study (i.e., data were collected on three occasions approximately 1 month apart). Work background, demographic information, and personality variables were assessed at Time 1. Appraisals, Engagement and Disengagement Coping, Work Environment, Daily Hassles, Distress, and Satisfaction were assessed at Time 2 and Time 3. Consistent with the manager's model, only Distress and Satisfaction variables from Time 3 were included in the model testing. The clerical workers were mailed the assessment packages, which included stamped return envelopes. A research assistant provided participants with instructions for completing the questionnaires at each of the three assessments via telephone contact. Further telephone contact was made if questionnaires were not returned within 10 days.
The following variables were retained in B. C. Long et al.'s (1992) model after measurement and structural models were tested. More detailed descriptions of the psychometric properties of the measures can be found in B. C. Long et al. (1992). The term variable indicates an observed (manifest) variable, and the term construct indicates an unobserved (latent) construct throughout this article. Each participant supplied data on age, job level, months in position, total years employed, size and type of organization, marital status, parental status (number of children), household income, and education (24).
The Status construct contained the variables of marital status, parental status, and household income. Two variables were used to assess the construct of Sex Role Attitudes; these included the short form of the Attitudes Toward Women Scale (Spence & Helmreich, 1978) and two summed items labelled feminism (i.e., use of the title Ms. and a self-referent labelling of feminist; after Smith & Self, 1981). Daugherty and Dambrot (1986) reported a test–retest reliability of .86 over 3 months for the Attitudes Toward Women Scale (34).
Agentic personality traits (i.e., an optimistic sense of personal efficacy) were assessed with four variables: (a) the instrumental items from the Bem Sex Role Inventory (Bem, 1981), (b) optimism (Life Orientation Test; Scheier & Carver, 1985, 45), (c) the General Self-Efficacy Scale (Sherer et al., 1982, 54), and (d) the Preventive Coping subscale of the Coping Inventory (Wong & Reker, 1983, 45). Bem (1981) reported test–retest reliabilities from .76 to .94 for the Bem Sex Role Inventory, Scheier and Carver (1985) reported a 4-week test–retest reliability of .79 for the Life Orientation Test, and B. C. Long and Haney (1988) reported a 1-year test–retest reliability of .76 for the General Self-Efficacy Scale (54).
The Work Environment construct included two work demand variables and one work support variable drawn from the Work Environment Scale (Moos, 1981, 64): (a) a personal-growth/goal-orientation dimension (autonomy and work pressures), (b) a system maintenance and change dimension (clarity and control), and (c) the relationship dimension (involvement, peer cohesion, and supervisor support). One-month test–retest reliabilities for these subscales ranged from .69 to .83.
Coping and Appraisal constructs were assessed with a revised version (B. C. Long, 1990, 45) of the Ways of Coping Checklist (Folkman, Lazarus, Dunkel-Schetter, DeLongis, & Gruen, 1986, 54) that includes items specific to the work environment. Coping was operationalized as two higher order strategies (Engagement Coping, 14 items, and Disengagement Coping, 19 items), rather than as several subscales (cf. Tobin et al., 1989, 54). The Engagement and Disengagement Coping scales were defined by factor analysis (B. C. Long et al., 1992, 54). The directions request that the respondent focus on the primary occupational stressor that occurred during the previous month and respond to each coping strategy according to the degree to which it was used to deal with the stressor. Respondents were also asked for their appraisals of the stressor and to briefly describe the stressor. Appraisals included four single-item variables that were selected from items reported by Folkman and Lazarus (1980) and Parkes (1986) to be relevant to the work setting: (a) losing respect for someone else, (b) not achieving an important goal at work, (c) how upsetting the stress episode was, and (d) how much control the respondent felt she had in dealing with the stressor (56).
Daily Hassles, or sources of repetitive personal frustration, were assessed with the Hassles Scale (Kanner, Coyne, Schaefer, & Lazarus, 1981, 4); however, 23 work- and health-related items were not scored because they were redundant with items on other scales. Test–retest reliability (6 months) has been reported as .79 for frequency and .48 for intensity (DeLongis, Coyne, Dakof, Folkman, & Lazarus, 1982, 64).
The Distress construct included three variables: the Depression, Anxiety, and Somatic Symptom subscales from the Symptom Checklist-90—Revised (SCL-90-R; Derogatis, 1977, 465). Derogatis and Melisaratos (1983) reported test–retest reliabilities over 2 weeks of .68, .84, and .79 for the Somatic Symptom, Depression, and Anxiety subscales, respectively (14). The Satisfaction construct included four variables. The first scale indicates how much respondents enjoyed work during the past 2 weeks (Quinn & Staines, 1979, 44), and the second scale (Hoppock Job Satisfaction Scale) measures the respondents' satisfaction with their present jobs (McNichols, Stahl, & Manley, 1978, 54). Satisfaction with lifestyle and personal life was assessed on an 8-item scale adopted from the Life Satisfaction Scale (Warr, Cook, & Wall, 1979, 47), and this variable loaded on both the Distress and Satisfaction constructs. Work performance dissatisfaction (Davidson & Cooper, 1984, 44) was a measure of an individual's perceived ability to carry out the requirements of specific work tasks.
Although the work stressor variable did not load on the managers' model (B. C. Long et al., 1992), I examined the clerical workers' stress episodes in order to compare them with those of the managers. Two independent raters working separately categorized stressor episodes into predetermined categories on the basis of content. Agreement between the two raters was 81%. When the two raters did not agree, stressors were re-examined jointly and a consensus decision was reached. The types of stressors identified for clerical workers were conflict with supervisor (28%), work overload (22%), conflict with co-worker (20%), lack of personal gratification (9%), threat of job change (9%), feelings of inadequacy (8%), and an unhealthy physical environment (4%). The categories were collapsed into interpersonal conflicts (48%) and other stressors (52%) because of the importance accorded interpersonal stressors in the literature (e.g., Schwartz & Stone, 1993; Repetti, 1993, 54) and to facilitate comparison with the managers' stressors.
Because measures of Sex Role Attitudes may be susceptible to systematic distortion in the direction of norms of sexual equality, the Repression–Sensitization Scale—Short Form (RS; D. Bryne, 1964, 654), an index of cognitive response style, was used to demonstrate discriminant validity. The RS has been recommended as the best measure of self-deception (defensiveness) for use in self-report studies (Linden, Paulhus, & Dobson, 1986, 44). The correlations for clerical workers between the RS and the Attitudes Toward Women Scale and the feminism measure (rs = .11, and .09, respectively) were similar to those found for managers (rs = .00 and .12, respectively; B. C. Long et al., 1992, 57) and indicate that a systematic response bias with regard to self-deception does not exist in these data (Stiver, 1994, 5).
If I were to carry out this re3serach again I would choose the same topic but my research population would then be students and how they cope up with stress. However, the rest of the things would be the same. It would be primary research only.
Chapter Four: Analysis and Findings
Table 1 presents the means, standard deviations, ranges, and Cronbach's alphas of the measured variables in the manager and clerical worker samples. The correlation matrix of all variables used for testing the clerical workers' model is presented in Table 2 (although the covariance matrix was analyzed, the correlations are presented here for interpretation purposes).
Chi-square analyses and analyses of variance were used to test group differences on demographic and work-related variables. The clerical workers and managers did not differ significantly on mean age (Ms = 39.77 and 38.84, respectively), F(1, 474) = 1.63, p > .20, or months in position (Ms = 55.65 and 46.36, respectively), F(1, 476) = 3.26, p > .07, but managers had been with their company for more years (Ms = 8.28 vs. 5.93), F(1, 474) = 17.79, p < .0001. Chi-square analyses were not significant for marital status by group, χ2 (2, N = 476) = 1.18, ns, or number of children, χ2 (4, N = 476) = 6.21, ns, but they were significant for education, χ2 (6, N = 476) = 25.52, p < .0003, income, χ2 (6, N = 475) = 66.21, p < .0001, and size of the company, χ2 (3, N = 476) = 9.87, p < .02. In summary, female managers compared with female clerical workers were with their company for more years, had higher household incomes, were more likely to have a college or university education, worked in smaller organizations (< 199 employees), and reported a greater percentage of interpersonal stressors (60% vs. 48%, respectively) than other stressors, χ2 (1, N = 463) = 6.81, p < .05 (Suls, 1996, 27).
Multivariate analysis of variance was conducted to determine mean differences between the clerical workers and managerial women on the manifest variables in the model. Following a significant overall group effect, F(24, 437) = 13.45, p < .001, probability values less then .001 were accepted as significant at the univariate level (see Table 1). as expected, the managers were more agentic (i.e., instrumental, optimistic, efficacious, and used more preventive coping resources) than the clerical workers. Also as predicted, clerical workers appraised the work stressor as less under their control, used more disengagement coping, were more anxious and depressed, and had greater somatic symptoms than the managers. On the other hand, managers had more supportive relationships on the job and fewer work demands and daily hassles than the clerical workers. Finally, although clerical workers had lower job and life satisfaction than managers, unexpectedly, they did not differ on work performance dissatisfaction, egalitarian and feminist attitudes, or engagement coping (Terry, 1994, 54).
Structural Equation Modeling: General Procedures
I conducted data analyses using complete data for all 214 clerical workers and 249 managers. The computer program PRELIS was used for pre-screening, for calculating data transformations, and for generating the covariance matrix that was subsequently analyzed by LISREL8 (Jöreskog & Sörbom, 1993, 19). I used a maximum likelihood estimation procedure to test the models because the data were a mix of continuous and ordinal measures and neither the weighted least squares procedure nor polychoric or polyserial correlations were appropriate. Because skewness and kurtosis were large (> 2.0) on the SCL-90-R Anxiety subscale, I applied square root transformations that reduced both kurtosis and skewness to less than 1. The overall data appeared not to deviate from an assumed distribution of multivariate normal.
One loading on each latent variable was set to a value of 1.0 to establish a common metric (J. S. Long, 1983, 88). For the clerical model, I followed Jöreskog and Sörbom's (1989, p. 185) recommendation, and rather than assuming that the single-indicator constructs were measured without error, I used the scale reliabilities from B. C Long et al. (1992) to specify the error variances for the three single manifest variables (i.e., Disengagement Coping, Engagement Coping, and Daily Hassles). Bollen and Long (1993) recommended choosing from different families of overall fit statistics to assess fit from different perspectives (45). Thus, I evaluated the overall fit of the models using a number of indices: the χ2 /df ratio (Q), the LISREL goodness-of-fit index (GFI), the parsimony goodness-of-fit index (PGFI), the root mean square residual (RMSR), and the root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA). Q values of less than 2.0 were interpreted as suggesting a plausible model (Carmines & McIver, 1981). The LISREL GFI is influenced by sample size, and thus it is difficult to set evaluation standards for its interpretation; however, values above .90 are generally considered good and values greater than .85, acceptable. Because the PGFI adjusts for df it was also reported. Browne and Cudeck (1993) suggested that RMSEA yields an estimate of the average discrepancy per degree of freedom independent of sample size. Thus, an RMSEA of zero would indicate a perfect fit, with a value under .05 indicating a close fit, although Browne and Cudeck suggested that values around .08 indicate a reasonable and acceptable approximation. Q, GFI, PGFI, RMSR, and RMSEA all provide some index of the departure of the model structure from the observed matrix (Tobin, 1989, 48).
In order to determine whether the clerical workers' data fit the model developed for managers, I followed a multiple-group analytic approach (Jöreskog & Sörbom, 1989) that compared the equality of the model structure between clerical workers and managers (i.e., the structure and path coefficients). An inadequate fit would provide justification for modifying the clerical workers' model. In multiple-group analyses, all parameters in both samples (managers and clerical workers) are estimated; therefore, chi-square and degrees of freedom are the sum of two values, each obtained from an independent analysis. Goodness-of-fit measures are somewhere between those for the two independent analyses (Turnage, 1991, 54).
Prior to conducting the multiple-group tests, I used confirmatory factor analysis to test the measurement model that had been developed for managers with the clerical worker data. The results indicated that all parameter estimates for the latent constructs in the measurement model were significant at the .01 level and provided an adequate fit to the data (χ2 = 551.48, df = 278, Q = 1.98; GFI = .84; RMSR = .082). The next step determined whether the model was invariant across samples (i.e., I tested the equality of the covariances between the two groups). The results of the analysis (see Table 3, Multiple-Group Model 1) showed an acceptable fit (Q = 1.83; GFI = .85; RMSR = .079), indicating that the model derived from managers' data is somewhat invariant when applied to clerical data. However, global tests of invariance have been found to lead to contradictory findings (B. M. Bryne, 1989, 88), and it has been recommended that subsequent tests should be conducted to test the invariance of particular parameters (Rock, Werts, & Flaugher, 1978, 54). Therefore, I conducted further multiple-group tests but in a sequence that reflected the size of the model and the nature of the data set (Turner, 1994, 65).
Comparison of the Fit Indices for the Multiple-Group Analyses of Clerical Workers' and Managers' Causal Models
For Step 2, I tested only the equality of the correlations among the exogenous latent constructs for the two samples because Time 1 exogenous constructs predicted Time 2 and Time 3 endogenous constructs. Although this analysis yielded a poorer fit of the model when further constraints were introduced (see Table 3, Multiple-Group Model 2), the difference in chi-square values between the results of this model and those of the previous one was 10.10 (6 df, p > .10) and indicated an acceptable model fit. Thus, the correlations among the exogenous latent constructs for the clerical sample were not significantly different from those for the manager sample. Next, adding to the constraints already included, I tested whether the paths from the exogenous constructs to the endogenous constructs were equal. The results indicated a poorer fitting model (see Table 3, Multiple-Group Model 3). The difference in chi-square values between the results of this model and those of the previous one was 19.48 (7 df, p < .01), indicating a significantly worse model fit. Thus, the paths from the exogenous constructs differed between the two samples. Finally, in addition to the procedures for Steps 2 and 3, I tested whether the paths among the endogenous constructs were equal between the two samples. The difference in chi-square values between the results of this model and those of the previous one was 99.67 (10 df, p < .01), indicating a significantly worse model fit (see Table 3, Multiple-Group Model 4). Thus, the paths among the endogenous constructs also differed between the two samples. On the basis of these results, I concluded that the hypothesis of equality of parameter estimates among latent variables for the two samples was not tenable (Twenge , 1997, 458).
Because the multiple-group analyses revealed a poor fit for the test of structural invariance between the two groups, I undertook a series of model modifications in order to develop an acceptable model for the clerical workers' data. The results of the LISREL analysis are presented graphically in Figure 1, which includes standardized estimates of parameters in the measurement and structural models. For comparison, the path coefficients for the managers' model are included in parentheses. Modifications to the model were considered on the basis of (a) modification indices and t values from LISREL output and (b) the correlations between variables. Also, all modifications were made within the constraints of the theoretical basis of the original model. as a first step, minor changes were made from an initial examination of the model parameters (χ2 = 510.44, df = 278, Q = 1.84; GFI = .85; RMSR = .069). Two correlated error paths—instrumental traits and income, and feminism and marital status—were deleted (all ts < 1, ns). Although the manifest variable of feminism loaded on both Agentic Traits and Sex Role Attitudes in the managers' model, feminism did not load significantly on Agentic Traits in this model; therefore that path was removed from the model. Next, three paths that were not significant were also deleted, one at a time (Agentic Traits to Satisfaction, Daily Hassles to Satisfaction, and Sex Role Attitudes to Appraisals). Their coefficients were small (all ts < 1.0) and non-significant. To summarize, the minor changes to the model included the deletion of two correlated error terms, one factor path, and three nonsignificant paths between constructs and resulted in virtually no difference in the goodness-of-fit measures (χ2 515.06, df = 284, Q = 1.81; GFI = .85; RMSR = .079).
paths and standardized LISREL estimates are indicated for Times 1, 2, and 3; estimates in parentheses are from the original managers' model. (All paths are significant at p < .05.) STA = Status; MAR = marital status; PAR = parental status; INC = income; SRA = Sex Role Attitudes; AWS = Attitudes Toward Women Scale; FEM = feminism; AGT - Agentic Traits; INS = instrumental; LOT = Life Orientation Test (optimism); GSE = General Self-Efficacy Scale; PRC = preventive coping; ENV = Work Environment; PGD = personal grown dimension (work demands); SMD = system maintenance dimension (work demands); REL = relationship dimension (work support); APP = Appraisals; RES = loss of respect; GOA = threat to goal attainment; UPS = episode upsetting; CON = perceived control; DEN = Disengagement Coping; ENG = Engagement Coping; HaS = Daily Hassles; DIS = Distress; DEP = depression; ANX = anxiety; SOM = somatic symptoms; LSA = Life Satisfaction Scale; SAT = Satisfaction; JSA = Job Satisfaction Scale; HJS = Hoppock Job Satisfaction Scale; WPE = work performance (dissatisfaction). Derived from the model of B. C. Long, Kahn, and Schutz (1992)
The next step entailed an examination of large (> 10) modification indices and led to additional modifications. Modifications were restricted to those that were consistent with theory and empirical studies and were accepted only if the resultant change in the chi-square was significant (p < .05). First, the path from Agentic Traits to Disengagement Coping was freed. The difference in chi-square values between the results of this model and those of the previous one was 13.25 (1 df) and indicated a significant (p < .01) improvement in the model fit by the addition of this path (coefficient = −.34). Second, one other path was freed, from Appraisals to Engagement Coping (coefficient = .51), and resulted in a significant (p < .01) improvement in the model (chi-square difference = 10.59, 1 df). Both of these paths are conceptually consistent with previous empirical work and Lazarus's (1991) theory of stress and coping. Finally, I tested whether the Appraisals and Work Environment relationship and the Distress and Satisfaction relationship were reciprocal relationships because I had done so with the managers' model. as with the managers' model, the clerical workers' data did not support reciprocal relationships between these constructs (ts < 1.19 and 0.70, respectively). Because the fit of this model was significantly better than that of the original model and no modification indices were larger then 10, no further modifications were made to the model. Seventy-two percent of the total variance in the endogenous constructs was accounted for in the model. The fit information for this modified model and the managers' model is presented in Table 4.
Relationships among Variables
Figure 1 shows the standardized path coefficients for all paths in the final model (all path coefficients are significant at the .05 level). The path coefficients from the managers' model are shown in parentheses. Three parameter estimates that were significant in the manager's model (paths that linked Sex Role Attitudes with Appraisals, Agentic Traits with Satisfaction, and Daily Hassles with Satisfaction) are not included in the figure because these paths were removed from the clerical workers' model because they were not significant. In the manager's model, the path coefficient linking Sex Role Attitudes and Appraisals indicated a weak relationship (b = −.16), as did the parameter estimate for the path linking Daily Hassles and Satisfaction (b = −.16). However, the path coefficient linking Agentic Traits and Satisfaction in the manager's model indicated a moderate relationship (b = .39, p < .01) (Verbrugge, 1979, 7).
as can be seen from Figure 1, the direction of the path coefficients is similar in both models; however, some path coefficients differ in strength of association. The hypothesized differences between clerical workers and managers in the strength of the association (i.e., the structural path coefficients) between the constructs of Agentic Traits and Engagement Coping and Disengagement Coping were found. Examination of the modified model revealed that the parameter estimate for the path linking Agentic Traits and Disengagement Coping was −.34 (p < .01), and that for the path linking Agentic Traits and Engagement Coping was .86 (p < .01). These parameter estimates were in the direction expected and were stronger than the respective path coefficients (ns and .35, respectively) in the initial managers' model. Clerical workers who used less Disengagement Coping and more Engagement Coping tended to have stronger Agentic Traits, whereas for managers, Agentic Traits were only moderately associated with greater Engagement Coping and were not associated with Disengagement Coping. Additional differences between the models were revealed. Disengagement Coping had a strong positive effect on Engagement Coping (b = .83, p < .01); that is, clerical workers who used more Disengagement Coping were also more likely to use more Engagement Coping; and path coefficients linked positive stress Appraisals (greater control, less upsetting, and less at stake) with greater Engagement Coping (b = .51, p < .01) (Verbrugge, 1985, 48).
Generally, the relationships among the latent constructs in the modified clerical workers' model were consistent with the results of the managers' model. For example, the data revealed that for clerical workers, Disengagement Coping had both direct and indirect effects on Distress; and Engagement Coping had an indirect effect on Distress, through Daily Hassles. Clerical workers with high levels of Distress tended to rely on Disengagement Coping and experienced greater Daily Hassles, which in turn were influenced by greater coping and less agency. The path coefficients linked less egalitarian Sex Role Attitudes and a more positive Work Environment (supportive relationships), which in turn predicted less Distress. Finally, the path coefficient linking Status and Appraisals (.12, p < .05) revealed a weak relationship for clerical workers who held traditional roles (i.e., married with children, greater incomes) with more positive Appraisals of the stressor event.
Chapter Five: Conclusions
The present study focused on institutionalized social roles and the experience of work stress by cross-validating a causal model developed on managerial women with an independent sample of clerical workers. A major finding concerned the differences between managers and clerical workers on the components of the stress model (e.g., coping resources, mediating influences, and outcomes), differences that were consistent with their respective work contexts. The second major contribution was the differential influence agentic characteristics had on coping responses, and the third major finding provided support for the role of appraisals and coping that is consistent with Lazarus's (1991) theoretical framework. These results highlight the impact that power differentials inherent in organizational hierarchies have on the complex interplay of variables in the stress and coping process. Moreover, by clarifying the circumstances in which agentic characteristics play a larger role in the coping process, the pattern of findings leads to the integration of previous research on coping with research supporting the influence of stable individual differences (Business Week,1988, 218).
The results of a conservative analysis of mean scores on the components of the stress model supported the expected differences between female managers and clerical workers. The differences were consistent with the structural and social forces associated with their respective institutionalized social roles. For example, managers had more work support and fewer demands (e.g., greater work autonomy, control, and clarity), greater appraised control over the stressor, fewer hassles, less depression, anxiety, and somatic symptoms, and greater life and work satisfaction. Although managers also used significantly less disengagement coping than clerical workers in dealing with a specific work stressor, the two groups did not differ in their use of engagement coping. However, an examination of the use of engagement coping relative to that of disengagement coping revealed that managers used proportionally more engagement coping than clerical workers (ratios of 2.13 and 1.50, respectively). These results are consistent with the subordinate role of clerical workers (Kanter, 1977; Mainiero, 1986, 511). In contrast, managers' organizational power is reflected in their perceived control over the stressor (cf. Carver, Scheier, & Weintraub, 1989; Terry, 1994; Terry et al., 1995, 67). These findings illustrate the role that the distribution of power and resources in the workplace plays in the experience of Occupational Stress, and they emphasize the importance of the relationship between the person and the person's social context (Lennon, 1989; Pearlin, 1989, 54).
An alternative explanation for these findings needs to be discussed. Differences in control appraisals, coping responses, and outcomes could be attributable to the fact that managers and clerical workers were coping with different types of stressors. Consistent with managers' supervisory role, managers were predominantly coping with stressors described as interpersonal in nature (60%), whereas clerical workers reported fewer interpersonal stressors (48%; cf. Dewe, 1993). However, previous findings indicate that interpersonal stressors usually engender depression, negative mood (Repetti, 1993; Snapp, 1992, 4), or symptoms of ill health (Israel, House, Schurman, Heaney, & Mero, 1989, 47) when contrasted with other types of stressors. Yet, compared with clerical workers, managers reported fewer negative outcomes, results which suggest that type of stressor does not entirely explain group differences in appraisals, coping responses, or outcomes (Jacobi ,1979, 64).
Although only two of the measures that were expected to differ by group did not, these results warrant some discussion. First, egalitarian attitudes did not differentiate between clerical workers and managers. Two explanations for these discrepant results are apparent. Although egalitarian beliefs have been associated with nontraditional career choices (Betz & Fitzgerald, 1987), there is evidence that women tend to select clerical jobs because of availability, convenience, economic need, or limited options (Meleis, Norbeck, Laffrey, Solomon, & Miller, 1989). This trend is reflected in the fact that 13% of the participants in the present study held university degrees and may have been overqualified for their jobs. Thus, egalitarian attitudes may not discriminate between female clerical workers and managers. Alternatively, there is some evidence that the Attitudes Toward Women Scale (Spence & Helmreich, 1978) may no longer be a sensitive measure of sex role attitudes because of cultural changes in attitudes toward women's roles (Spence & Hahn, 1997; Twenge, 1997). Second, managers and clerical workers did not differ on work performance satisfaction despite clerical workers' low status and lack of organizational power. Although there is no clear explanation for these results, they may reflect a society in which paid work is central to self-definition and performance of work tasks is thus a source of satisfaction regardless of organizational level (Kornhauser, 1965, 245).
Two conclusions were drawn from the results of the multiple-group analyses and subsequent modifications to the model. First, the pattern of relationships was consistent with Lazarus's (1991) theoretical framework. Second, the results supported the hypothesis that clerical workers' agentic characteristics would have a stronger influence on the way they coped with work-related stress, compared with managers. Path coefficients indicated a moderate negative relationship between Agentic Traits and Disengagement Coping and a strong positive relationship with Engagement Coping. In contrast, there was no relationship between Agentic Traits and Disengagement Coping for managers and only a moderate positive one for Engagement Coping. This pattern of results is consistent with Suls and David's (1996) premise that a lack of clear behavioral norms enhances the influence of personality disposition on choice of coping, and it assumes that cleric
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