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Stress Manifestations And Presentations: Analyzing Its Causes And A General Overview On Organizational Stress

Updated on February 23, 2014

Causes Of Stress

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Analyzing The Causes Of Stress

Stress exists whenever there is a change in equilibrium of a man-machine-environment system which commonly results in a manifestation of human strain. The society, the working world and daily life have changed almost beyond recognition in the past 50 years. These changes have contributed to a major increase in stress.

Changing Societies:

  1. Increasing urbanization
  2. Aging population: Increase in world population
  3. Changing gender roles e.g. in women there is conflict between work outside the home and work within it.

Changing organization:

  1. Responding to pressure: The upheaval triggered by the need for cost-cutting and increasing productivity has two main causes: globalization and information technology.
  2. Rethinking companies: New competition and pressure on companies to be more productive have led them to pursue certain strategies which put their workers under stress. For instance mergers and acquisition usually bring about job losses.
  3. Changing operations: Introduction of robots in assembly lines has eliminated many manual jobs once required for mass production.
  4. Encountering new work cultures: Opportunistic takeovers have put old fashioned organizations into the hands of ambitious and fast moving entrepreneurs with very different values which tend to be more committed to maximizing profit than to maintaining the workforce.

Manifestation Of Organizational Stress

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Organizational Stress

Stress affects organizations as well as individuals within them. Change in working practices such as introduction of new technology or the alteration of targets may cause stress. Specific elements such as noise, heat, cold and potentially intolerable conditions constitute stressors within the work environment. Thus this leads to greater or less dissatisfaction, and a greater or less effect on productivity and performance.

Cost of workplace stress:

  • Low quality service
  • Absenteeism
  • Deteriorating industrial and customer relations
  • High staff turnover
  • Poor reputation
  • Worsening safety records
  • Poor organizational image
  • Dissatisfied workers- disputes with management.

It is believed that 30 to 40% of sickness occurrences are caused or exacerbated by stress. Where stress is ignored, the effects worsen and the length of sickness increases. The sickness absence figures of an organization are a good barometer of its own health. An employer has a legal and commercial responsibility to ensure the physical and mental well being of an employee. We have to note however, that healthy workers are a financial asset to any organization.

Stress Can Lead To Ill Health

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Depression From Emotional Stress

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How The Stress Response Can Lead To Ill Health And Even Death

The stress response is brought about by the action of the hormones cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline. Cortisol suppresses the immune system and weakens our ability to fight infections. Noradrenaline constricts blood vessels, increase blood pressure and encourages clot formation. Blood supply to the heart is suddenly cut off resulting in heart attack.

Noradrenaline, adrenaline, cortisol and other hormones help mobilize glucose and fat from the body stores and so increasing blood glucose and cholesterol levels. The blood becomes thicker and the heart must work harder to circulate thicker blood. Chronic distress slows down healing process which can lead to prolonged erosion of the stomach wall by acid, resulting in the formation of ulcer.

Worrying about event such as interviews and examinations can lead to menstrual irregularities. Persistently, high blood sugar levels can occur during prolonged distress, leading to diabetes. Back and neck pain, headache and migraine brought by prolonged muscle tension are less bearable. Chronic distress can also lead to severe anxiety and depression, disabling mental illness, nervous breakdown and suicide.

© 2014 Funom Theophilus Makama

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