Role of the Manager in Reducing Employee Stress

3033 words (12 pages) Essay in Management

23/09/19 Management Reference this

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What sources of work-related stress are detailed in Cary Cooper’s interviews . How can these impact the individual and organization, and what role does the manager have in managing stress at work?

I consider the feedback on the Reflective Essay being very helpful in different ways. Considering that it was my first time writing such a piece of work, my overall taught were positive about it, even though I found it a little bit difficult. The comments added after each paragraph or sentence were very accurate and straight to the point, and the more I read them the more I understood where were my mistakes and how I can avoid them in the future for better results. The general comments were like a future ‘guide’ for my following pieces of work. I acknowledged the fact that I must improve my ability to reference (Harvard Referencing) and also show proof of understanding the theory and putting it into practice and this problem will be solved by researching and reading more and doing everything step by step, working week by week, requesting also feedback from the teacher and finding the correct answers to my questions. Nonetheless, I would strongly encourage this type of feedback for multiple reasons such as being easily accessible and also for the ability to write comment after or in the paragraphs. The summary of the Reflective Essay was exactly how I expected, so I was not surprised when the teacher wrote that I should ‘Strengthen links between theories & practice where possible’ because, in my opinion, I did not research enough for this piece of work. The ‘Further Improvement’ section was where I really understood that I have done some mistakes that lowered my grade such as not adding enough details to some sections of my reflective essay or not organising the text and the ideas into longer paragraphs for improved structure. So, overall, after reading, analysing and understanding my feedback I took some notes and wrote them in my notebook so whenever I write a piece of writing I can see what should I improve.


  1. Introduction
  • academic definition of stress in the workplace and my own explanation/comments in addition to the definition
  • Introducing the topic
  1. Cary Cooper’s interview
  • the sources of work-related stress
  • mental health/ wellbeing
  • rapidity of change
  • ill health level
  • people becoming more vulnerable, even at the top
  1. The impact of stress on individual
  • alcoholism
  • no motivation
  • health issues
  • mental(depression) impact
  • overloading
  1. The impact of stress on organisations
  • Changes
  • lack of control
  • lack of support
  • low moral
  1.  Manager’s responsibility for managing stress
  • empowered manager
  • companies that help people build resilience
  • demoralises the individual/organisation
  • how he deals with stress himself
  • personality
  1. Conclusion
  • summary of what I said before, but not repeating
  • my own thoughts

What sources of work-related stress are detailed in Cary Cooper’s interviews. How can these impact the individual and organization, and what role does the manager have in managing stress at work?

Walter B. Canon states the fact that in his study on the effects of stress on animal and people, in particular, he studied the fight-or-flight reaction meaning that animals and people will chose to stay and fight or attempt to escape when confronted by extreme danger (Cartwright and Cooper,1997). Similarly, Tom Cox (1978) did not accept the idea of looking at stress as simply environmental pressures or as physiological responses. He and his team of researchers suggested that stress can be best understood as ‘part of a complex and dynamic system of transaction between the person and his [or her] environment’. (cited in Cartwright and Cooper,1997,p 5). In this essay I will be discussing about work related stress and its effect on the individual and the organisation and also about the manager’s role in managing stress.

Carry Cooper’s interview with Sue Richards, the Director of Strategic Capability at the National School of Government, outlines multiple reasons of stress in the workplace, both private sector and public sector, and also their effect on the organisations and individual. Stress has become the ‘bottom line issue’( Cooper,2011a) that people have to face nowadays in the workplace and due to this, stress inhibits the productivity and the performance of an organisation in the workplace. Carry mentioned the causes of stress such as factors intrinsic to the job, the role in the organisation, relationships at work, career development, organisational structure and climate that can be very harmful for the individual (Cartwright and Cooper, 1997). People have to cope with massive changed in the workplace, that affect even their private life unknowingly, and its downside is that the changes make them insecure and vulnerable, jogging between jobs and life and having to work long shift hours. The level of stress are getting higher and higher due to an ineffective system and people not knowing how to deal with stress, not even the people from the top including the manager, and the mental and physical effects of stress becoming more often among the workers. A literature review conducted by Cooper(2001) revealed that the measurement of physiological strain, such as cardiovascular, biochemical and gastrointestinal symptoms, was relatively rare, with the most common measures being blood pressure and heart rate (Clarke and Cooper,2004). He further added detail about letting people take risks and assume the responsibility for the outcome, for both people at the bottom and from the top of an organisation so they can be more engaged.

Stress can also be positive in a way or another for an employee. It is about finding a certain amount of stress to perform best at work and at home. The key to stress management is to determine the right amount of stress that will give you energy, ambition, and enthusiasm versus the wrong amount of stress which can harm your health, outlook, relationships, and well-being. It has been suggested that because individuals differ in their reaction to stress, that individual differences will play an important role in the effect of job stress on their personal life (Clarke and Cooper, 2004). As a starting point to understanding work stress, researchers have studied the factors that may be intrinsic to the job itself, such as poor working conditions, shift work, long hours, travel and danger, new technology, work overload and work under load (Cartwright and Cooper, 1997).There are two types of overloading: the quantitative overload refers simply to having too much work to do, whereas qualitative overload refers to work that is too difficult for an individual. Quantitative overload often lead to working long hours, but a too-heavy work burden has been associated with increased cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption and other stress indicators. One of the greatest problem for an individual that is caused by stress is alcoholism. As with alcoholism, sure signs of stress are a deterioration in an employee’s job performance, and other personal problems such as absenteeism: such employee behaviour provides a strong indication of an employee’s ‘ inability to cope’. (Newton, 1995, p 107) . Stress can be sensibly defined as a perceptual phenomenon arising from the demand on the person and his ability to cope (Cox, 1978). The perception of time can be shown to alter with the experience of stress , and this may be important in deciding the balance between perceived demand and perceived capability. Moreover, the quality and quantity of sleep is powerfully impacted by stress among the workers. It leads to lying in bed feeling anxious, which makes relaxing, focusing and quieting the mind enough to fall asleep almost impossible. Studies have shown stress seems likely to increase the risk of or worsen conditions on individual like heart disease, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, diabetes, asthma, and gastrointestinal problems. It can also cause headaches, chest pain, fatigue, anxiety, lack of focus or motivation, and a feeling of being overwhelmed (HealthPrep, 2018). Stress-related illnesses can lead to mental impact on the individual, such as depression, symptoms an individual can experience include a loss of interest or pleasure from their jobs, weight loss or gain, difficulty sleeping or constantly feeling tired throughout the day, and a lack of energy. Tolerance to stress is related to the amount of stress that a person is able to put up with without it significantly affection normal functioning. A person with a high level of stress tolerance will show symptoms of the negative consequences of stress much later than someone with a low level of tolerance. What does the tolerance level depend on? There is an individual component, related overall to personality characteristics ( reflection, impulsiveness, levels of anxiety, etc.), but it is also related to socio-cultural and organisational factors (Dolah, 2007).

When stress makes working for a company an unpleasant or awful experience, employees begin to look for new jobs or consider retirement. The loss of experienced employees may cause decreases in production and increases in costs of recruiting, hiring and training new employees . If the employee feels overwhelmed and exhausted, then meeting expectations or deadlines can be difficult. The effects of stress on the cognitive abilities can affect the ability to prioritize, being difficult to decide which task should take priority out of all. Having no control or input into his [or her] own work also can affect the ability to complete tasks in a timely manner. Workers are less likely to experience work stress when they have more control over their work, have more control over the way they do their work and participate more in decisions that concern their jobs (Cooper,2011b). Stress also can affect your ability to perform your job well. Stress can make it difficult to concentrate on complex issues, and it might affect the employee’s memory in various ways . The employee might neglect to complete certain tasks or forget to perform a key part of a procedure that may be harmful or result in a failure for the organisation. If the employee doesn’t feel as if management supports or empowers him [or her],it might feel that no reason exists to do the best work. Stress can lead to feelings of apathy and lack of enthusiasm . Clark (1994) also argues that women’s experience of stress in the workplace is directly related to the predominance of male attitude, values and behaviour and she illustrated how gender issues are generally marginalised in stress research, which is related to the lack of organisational support for women’s careers (Newton, 1995). In sum, low level of control and discretion experienced by women in employment appear likely to relate both to broaden issues of power, distress and emotion, and to the politics surrounding the gendered nature of organisations. A recent report shows that an estimated of 137.3 million working days were lost due to sickness or injury in the UK in 2016. This is equivalent to 4.3 days per worker (the lowest recorded since the series began in 1993, when it was at 7.2 days per worker, the highest level over the reference period) (Comer,2017). Relationships with colleagues at work are critical, not only to the employee’s productivity but also to the employee’s health and job satisfaction. Lazarus (1966) suggest that supportive social relationships with colleagues at work are likely to create interpersonal pressure and will reduce levels of perceived job stress. Poop relationships between colleagues have been defined as ‘ those which include low trust, low supportiveness , and low interest in listening and trying to deal with problems that confront the organisational member’ (Cartwright and Cooper, 1997, p 75).

Cartwright and Cooper(1997) suggest that understanding how to manage bosses requires a special awareness of the different types of bosses, their personality needs, management styles, and sanctioning behaviour, and most important, an awareness of those copying strategies that might be the most successful in managing them. It is often argued that the current economic situation is without question increasing the degree of stress experienced by management in British industry and if it is so, one inevitable effect might be the decreasing effectiveness of the managerial system.( Cox,1978). Perhaps the most important threat to the managerial system is through redundancy, managers feeling constantly anxious about getting fired for minor mistakes. An engaged manager should always support the employees in any way possible, that could be done by establishing a good relationship among the organisations. The first signs of stress such as absenteeism, tiredness, increased smoking, aggressive behaviour and many others, must be observed by the manager and he [or she] should take the necessary precaution in order to lower the level stress among the employees. In many cases, particular ways of behaving have become so habitual, that a manager is not even conscious that they are behaving that way or that there are other ways they might behave. One conclusion from this is that the ideal is to get managers to adopt positive management behaviour really early on in their management careers, when they are just taking on line management responsibility and haven’t yet established particular management habits ( Donaldson‐Fielder, Yarker and Lewis, 2011). Carry Cooper (2011b) states the fact that an effective manager should be aware of the subordinate’s problems, both in the organisation and outside, and also be supportive in the manner in which the employee’s need it. Training managers in knowing how to lead an organisation and deal with stress himself [ or herself] and deal with the employee’s stress and build resilience will create effective managers that might reduce the levels of absenteeism and increase performance, engagement and productivity. The manager’s strategies to support an employee can differ from company to company and more or less to the industry they are working in. He [or she] can offer flexible schedules for parents or employees that need it, set meeting with the employees outside the working place to establish good relationships with them, offer them moral support, make a better working environment for them in a way they feel more like home, helping the people in need by signing them up in companies that build resilience and more or less making them feel good about the work they are doing so they will have a reason to wake up and go to work, rather than feeling it as an obligation. There are multiple companies that could help employees build reliance such as the ‘Building Resilience and Sustainable Team Performance’ program. Their aim is to ‘ explore the relationship between resilience and sustainable team performance’ and also recognise what happens in the brain and body in response to uncertainty (Hamsley Fraser, no date).

To conclude, at one point or another each of us experienced different levels of stress, but the way we dealt with it made the difference. Definitions of stress tend to favour a transactional perspective; this emphasises that stress is located neither in the person nor in the environment, but in the relationship between the two (Clarke and Cooper, 2004). It is clear from the above that he manager’s role is crucial in dealing with stress, because most of the people are not even aware they are stressed, and an objective perspective suits best in this context. Stress management isn’t just about lowering the sickness absence rates , stress management should be about creating environments, where people are more motivated, where their performance and productivity will improve.(Cooper, 2011b)

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