Monday, October 22, 2012


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Individual differences preclude effective stress management strategies. Select one coping strategy and indicate its potential shortcomings with reference to contemporary organisational settings.

This essay is a discussion of effective stress management strategies. The author will start by using some definitions of stress, then look at individual differences with people, explaining the different types that there are relating to how differently they deal with stress. Also looking at what actually causes stress. The author will then progress on to defining what a coping strategy and a contemporary example is. It will look at these two strategies in depth, it will compare and contrast coping strategies to see how they are implemented into the workplace today.

Some definitions of stress

.... a complex and dynamic concept. It is a source of tension and frustration, and can arise through a number of interrelated influences on behaviour, including the individual, group, organisational and environmental factors.....


(Mullins, 167).

the emotional, cognitive, behavioural and physiological reaction to aversive and noxious aspects of work, work environments and work organisations. It is a state characterised by high levels of arousal and distress and often by feelings of not coping.

(European Commission, Directorate-General for Employment and Social Affairs).

stress is the reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demands placed on them.

(United Kingdom Health and Safety Commission, London, 1).

Some stress is normal it often provides us with motivation to meet our daily challenges both at home and at work. Stress in these situations is the kind that helps you rise to meet your goals such as deadlines. However, too much stress can have an negative impact this is when satisfaction turns into exhaustion and frustration. Challenges at work become too demanding and this is where we begin to feel stressed. Dipboye et al (1417) identifies that there is a weak link between job related stressors and work performance this makes the relationship between stress and performance a very complex issue. They state that the optimum stress levels varies between people and task and therefore it is difficult to specify how stress will affect performance levels. Therefore it is essential that mangers notice negative stress levels before it is detrimental the individual. Although as stated earlier they should be aware that some certain amount of stress can motivate employees.

There are two types of individuals they are known as type A this is a type of individual that is spurred on by achievement and competitiveness, they are often aggressive, impatient and restless. Type A are more likely to suffer from Coronary Heart Disease than Type B. Handy (174) states that Type A people can do enormous hurt to themselves and to others.

Type B individuals are categorised as laid back, calmer and relaxed.

(Friedman and Rosenman, 174)

Stress can be broken down into three parts which are the sytessor i.e. hassle and uplifts, mediators that are the factors that will help determoine our response to the stressor and include the predictability of the stress our perceived control of it i.e. whether or not as individuals we have a centered or imposed locus of control along with our congnitive interpretation of the intensity of the stressor. Finnaly our individual coping skills, social support network i.e. family and friends along with our sex and personality type all help us to determine our stress response. The final process of stress is our reaction to it whether physical, psychological or behaviour. (Gross, Baum et al).

There are a number of factors which cause stress within the workplace peoples workload weather it be overload or underload, the pace and variety of the work and the meaningfulness of work. Some peoples hours may play a main stressor especially if they do shiftwork they may find it hard to get into a routine and then once they have they have to change again.

The environment they work in, if its noisy they may get disturbed and not be able to work to the best of there ability. Some people may be isolated and find that they have no one to talk to this could lead to depression.

The role that you are in the organisation plays a massive part, there may be role conflict this is where the employee has to choose between competing demands or expectation, complying with one aspect of a role may mean compliance with another is difficult. There is also role ambiguity this is where there is lack of clarity about responsibilities they have this can be a stressor with people who like to be in control. If there is no clear picture of the objectives to complete the task then it is difficult to get the job under control. (Maxon, 17)

The level of responsibility for others is often perceived as a heavy burden for managers, although it is often encouraged in organisations as part of career development. For a manager being responsible for other people creates higher levels of stress than positions in which such responsibility is absent. (MacLean, 180) Mangers must deal with people who have anger in situations where they have been sacked or passed over for promotion, as well as being directly or indirectly involved in negative feedback towards a member of staff this then effects the staff as they will become stressed as well as the manager. (Reid, 1).

Peoples job security is a stressor as they may be in fear of being made redundant therefore panic and cannot concentrate on the job they have to do. There may be no job satisfaction, employees may not be getting challenged enough this may lead to them not doing the job to the best of their ability. People have become more worried with his issue in last 0 years.

Relationships within the work place may not be good between managers and supervisors this may cause communication breakdown which may lead to stress because people may not be doing things right because of the lack of information being processed. The structure of the organisation may not be run well causing participation levels to drop. Which will lead to work being of a lower standard, and even loss of business.

Research by the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology has found that the occupation with the highest stress levels is a Miner the second one is a

Police officer. The lowest stressed job is researched to be a Personnel manager. It is also being researched in Sweden that the total workload of women who are employed full-time have higher stress levels than that of a full-time male particularly where they have family responsibilities.

The two physiological responses to stress, are cannons flight or fight syndrome and Selyes General Adaption Syndrome. Cannon, between 1-15 carried out some of the first work into physiological response to stress. (Bishop. Threough his research Cannon developed and proposed his fight or flight stress response. This sequence of event is where the organism prepares to respond and deal with danger or stress by taking approite measures which will enable it ti fight (attack or defend itself) or flight (flee to safety). Responses involve physical changes brought about by the automatic sympathetic nervous system. The response to stimuklation causes a rise in adrenaline and nor adrenline in the blood. Other reponses include a rise in heart rate, blood pressure, boold sugar, respiration and the movement of blood away from the skin towards the muscles. (Bishop, Baum et al).

Another psycholist called Selye futhured this ideaof fight or flight to develop his own theory on stress response. Selyle in 156-176 devloped his general adaptationsyndrome (GAS) this syndrome consisted of three different stages. The fist is the alarm stage which is triggered

Coping strategies where developed for people who are stressed within a business it is a way of identifying the problem. It is obvious that individuals differ substantially and have different level of stress (Type A and Type B). There are three different components of the stress cycle. Interventions can attempt to 1) reduce the number or intensity of stressors experienced by the manger, ) help managers modify their appraisal of stressfulness of the situation, ) help managers in coping more effectively with stressors and their consequences.

If we go back in time to a man called Henry Ford who was called the Speed-up King this was because he ran an assembly line which was extremely fast some of the older workers in the factory could not keep up and they were fired at the time of hiring the sales of black hair dye rocketed.. Ford liked controlled he believed in giving people second chances even if they were convicts. The Ford Sociology Department (FSD) was established in 114. It was headed by a man called Samuel Marquis, he employed 100 investigators. The department met with Fords interest on self-improvement. FDS social workers or investigators visited workers in their homes, with translators to check how they lived. They monitored workers drinking habits, cleanliness, debts and sexual relations. Employees had to produce their bank cheques and marriage licences at the interviews. Where a Ford investigator considered a worker to be living in a dissolute manner, the latter could receive a pay-cut or suspension. The investigators encouraged single men to enrol in evening correspondence courses.

They also left them a leaflet entitled Rules of Living. This encouraged the workers to use lots of soap and water when washing, not to spit on the floor, avoid hire purchase, and go to Ford-operated schools if they needed to speak English. The wives of the workers were encouraged to take on boarders, in case they were tempted to have sexual relations while the husband was at work. Following Marquis departure the FSD was closed in 117.

Although things did not stop here, they got unpleasant. In the 10s the Plant Protection Service Department at Fords became the company secret police force. It was the threat of the United Auto Unions that turned his Rouge plant into an industrial camp. Service department spies planted microphones, followed men into the toilets to be certain they did not discuss union matte, ran 000 informers among the employees, treated a meeting of any two employees as a prima facie evidence of conspiracy, required workers who walked from one place to another to specify where they were going and why, and searched their belongings for union literature while they were on the factory floor. Workers were banned from smoking in the toilet with Sniffers standing by the air gauges to monitor any infringement. While on the job sitting, squatting, singing or whistling were banned while smiling was frowned upon.

Talking on breaks was prohibited.(Buchanan & Huczynski, 11) The workers were under immense stress they did try and fight back, they communicated moving there lips all of this monitoring obviously took its toll on the employees and they developed what was called the Ford stomach a nervous condition based on stress and exhaustion (Sward, 148) Other worker simply collapsed from exhaustion, a condition which Detroit doctors termed Fordits.

The author has investigated a multimillion pound international company called Kraft Foods the author has looked at coping strategies for stress used within this organisation and what and how they implemented it and how they used to perceive stress before they introduced coping strategies

Authors of text books define stress in a number of ways which was looked at the beginning of the essay we know that stress is harmful and that if we remove sources of stress everything will be pleasant and peaceful or alternatively have coping strategies that are a sub set of stress management strategies.

There are a number of coping strategies for stress the strategies help the individual to deal with the immediate condition or symptoms without making them confront future stressful situations. There are many techniques to help individual bring stress under control changing your viewpoint, putting you problems into perspective, learning to laugh at life, not worrying and working o stress reduction, not talking yourself down and attempting to slow your life down. (Mullins, 1)

Looking at it in more depth a coping strategy called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is where a manger can feel free and confident to say that they cannot cope where can air their basic fears and invite help if necessary. However this would involve an change of far too many attitudes which people are not prepared to do alternatively they prefer to brush it under the carpet and remain secretive about it. However CBT may be useful in putting an emphasis on rebuilding peoples thoughts on particular issues and help people who over react to stressful situations.

In addition to this regularity is a coping method it simply what says have a regular meal keeping fit , adequate sleep and moderating the consumption of food, drink and drugs these are vital in reducing stress. A healthy life style can improve quality of work, as the manger will reduce theses factors in stress therefore can maintain a higher standard of work for the organisation. (Woodrow, 1). Although the manager will have to maintain a certain amount of commitment which can sometimes be hard.

There also is social support at work which is where Cassell, (174) said an effective way to improve the health of humans is to improve and strengthen social supports. It has been defined as sources provided by people or colleagues at work. there is a lot of evidence that suggests social support is positively related to good health, also social support cushions the negative effect of stress and health problems. It has also been

proven that it increases moral, has better health out comes and more success in coping with the demands of stress in the work place.

The one that the author has spent some time on is stress counselling while investigating Kraft Foods the author found that this is the coping method they use with their employees they find it very successful. Before this was introduced the contemporary business approach was non existent they thought that if an employee was acting out of character they put it down to being a trouble maker and not interested in the job they that the employee had no focus on what they were doing this would lead to disciplinary action which is highly unfair. This is caused by over

looking the main factor that the employee was stressed which is what they have now come to realise with research. . The way they find out if their employees are stressed in they detect a behavioural change in their attitude to work. Once this is detected a manger will go and a quite chat with the worker being careful to draw any attention to the matter with other employees. Once it is certain that the employee is stressed they will be offered counselling on a one to one bases where they feel comfortable in talking to someone. The company does their up most in valuing their employees making sure that they are fine. They also have counselling if an employee is being bullied which can lead to being stressed. The management regularly talk to their workers to make sure they are happy and content with their jobs.

In conclusion work related stress is pervasive and can be costly considering the amount of money companies spend on coping methods along with possible environmental changes which might remove or at least reduce the impact of stressors. In this essay the author has tried to demonstrate what stress is the causes of it and the impact it has not just on the employer but management. Also the coping strategies used. Many studies have been conducted on the management of excessive levels of stress. By and large these have concentrated on individual coping strategies. There is some increasing recognition, however the same environmental factors cannot be influenced by individuals acting alone. Coping strategies do work as long as the person doing them has being trained well and knows how to help the individual. The key to good management is to understand people and the problems they have and to recognise that people are individual and one problem to a person may be a different one to someone else everyone has different stress levels the key is to know what they are and how to act before they get too high.


Buchanan, D. and Huczyuski, A. 17. Organizational behaviour - an introductory text. rd Edition, Prentice Hall, Hertfordshire.

Mullins, L.J. 1, Management and Organisational Behaviour. 5th Edition, Prentice Hall, Harlow Essex.

Mullins, L.J. 00, Management and Organisational Behaviour. 6th Edition, Prentice Hall, Harlow Essex.

Staw, B.M. 15. Psychological Dimensions of Organizational Behaviour nd Edition, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.

Warr, P.16. Psychology at Work 4th Edition. Penguin Books, London.


Overell, S. 00. Stresstruth will out. Personnel Today.

Wigham, R. 00, Will new stress guidance help ease the burden on employees?. Personnel Today




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