The negative outcomes of organizational stress have been well documented in the literature, particularly in light of today’s business environment which necessitates organizations to raise the bar on employee productivity, effectiveness, and adaptation to change (Dale & Fox, 2008). I my view, however, the positive outcomes of organizational stress are yet to receive similar attention from scholars and practitioners despite the obvious fact that they too contribute to organizational effectiveness, which then leads to business success. In this paper, I focus attention on the issue of organizational stress, including evaluating the impact of organizational stress as well as assessing and managing this type of stress.
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Organizational stress may be positive or negative depending on presenting circumstances and other contextual variables, implying that it may occasion beneficial or adverse outcomes for the organization. As already mentioned, most organizations have raised the bar for employee productivity and performance due to stiff competition (Dale & Fox, 2008).
In the absence of effective leadership skills and other enabling factors, such as supportiveness, job involvement, intellectual competence, self-actualization, job security, autonomy, affiliation and adequate pay (Pot, Peeters, Vaas, & Dhondt, 1994), I am of the considered opinion that the high expectations that employees are required to meet may lead to negative organizational stress and burnout, which then translate into negative employee and organizational outcomes such as low employee morale and satisfaction, poor productivity and performance, lack of organizational commitment, as well as high levels of absenteeism and turnover (Hunter & Thatcher, 2007).
However, I contend that positive organizational stress can be achieved when the bar for performance is set high, but the employees are empowered with the attributes and factors such as supportiveness, self-actualization, job involvement, and autonomy. In such a scenario, organizational stress will lead to increased organizational commitment, creativity and innovation among employees as they attempt to develop strategies aimed at providing solutions to their everyday work-related challenges (Hunter & Thatcher, 2007).
There exist multiple sources of literature dealing with assessing and managing organizational stress. Stress assessment, in my view, can be done using tools such as the conditions for wellbeing at work scale, quality of work life questionnaire, organizational stress screening tool and occupational stress inventory, among others (Pot et al., 1994). As an organizational leader, I would manage negative organizational stress while encouraging beneficial stress using what is commonly referred to as supervisory consideration. As acknowledged by Dale and Fox (2008), “supervisory consideration is the degree to which a superior develops a work climate of physical support, mutual trust and respect, helpfulness and friendliness” (p. 112).
In all my leadership endeavors, for example, I would always find time to listen to my employees’ problems, consult with workers on important organizational decisions, treat employees as equals, and develop the capacity to accept their suggestions with the aim to improving work conditions, productivity and competitiveness. Such interactions, in my view, will reduce negative organizational stress among workers while reinforcing their capacity to perform and become more committed to the aims and objectives of the organization through enhancing their emotional needs and developing their social involvements.
Lastly, to minimize stress within the organization, my proposal is to demonstrate a considerate leadership style which enhances the capacity for more beneficial and mutually fulfilling social interactions, communication, feedback, and outcome information between the leader and the subordinates. In solidifying my claim, I cite Dale and Fox (2008), who argue that enhanced communication between the employee and his/her leader “provides more chances for the worker to learn about the formal and informal expectations held by others, as well as knowledge about the formal and informal policies and procedures of the organization” (p. 113). Such an orientation, in my view, removes work-related conflict and role ambiguities considered as instrumental in fanning negative organizational stress.
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Dale, K., & Fox, M.L. (2008). Leadership style and organizational commitment: Mediating effects of role stress. Journal of Management Issues, 20(1), 109-130. Web.
Hunter, L.W., & Thatcher, S.M.B. (2007). Feeling the heat: Effects of stress, commitment, and job experience on job performance. Academy of Management Journal, 50(4), 953-968. Web.
Pot, F.D., Peeters, M.H.H., Vaas, F., & Dhondt, S. (1994). Assessment of stress risks and learning opportunities in the work organization. European Work and Organizational Psychologist, 4(1), 21-37. Web.