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Friday, January 15, 2010

Ontology of Stress in Business Organizations


We hear the word ‘stress’ very often in our everyday life. It is nothing but a condition arising from the interaction of an individual and his work. We assume stress as a negative word, however stress has also positive connotation. This article will not only tell us about stress and the ontology of stress in business organizations; but also tell us how it is being managed in different organizations.
Stress has been defined in many ways. Invancevich and Matteson1 defined stress simply as ‘the interaction of the individual with the environment’, however most definitions agree on the basic elements i.e.; stress is a person’s adaptive response to excessive psychological or physical demands caused by some stimulus2.
A convenient way to think about stress is in terms of stressors and stress response. Stressors are events that threaten or challenge people. They are the sources of stress, such as having to make a decision, natural disaster or getting married etc. Sociological variables such as race, sex, and class can also become stressor. Sociologists have noted that minorities may have more stressors than the majorities. Stress is usually thought of in negative terms. It is thought to be caused by something bad e.g. a loved one is seriously ill. This is called distress. But there is also a positive side of stress caused by good things e.g. wedding ceremony. This is called Eustress.
The causes of stress can be categorized into extra organizational, organizational, group stressors, and individual stressors. They represent a tremendous amount of potential stress impinging upon an individual, at every level and in every type of organization.
The effects of such stress can create behavioral problems (tardiness, absenteeism, turnover, and accidents etc.), psychological problems (mood change, lowered self-esteem, job dissatisfaction, and inability to make decisions etc.) and medical problem (ulcer, headache, diabetic, and heart problem, etc.)
A number of individual and organizational strategies have been developed to cope with these stress-induced problems. Exercise, relaxation, behavioral self-control techniques, cognitive therapy techniques, institutional programs etc. are some potentially useful strategies that are being observed in different organizations.

Both individuals and organizations are seeking better ways in order to reduce and manage stress. Individuals can help themselves with proper time management, exercise, relaxation, role and task management and can also join support groups. Common strategies to reduce and manage stress within the organizations are redesigning the work schedules, health-life insurance, and other collateral programs.

Shahid Naved
Assistant Professor
Hamdard Institute of Management Sciences
Hamdard University

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