Work stress is an issue many people face, the effects it can have on the psyche are staggering.
From depression to anxiety, work stress can affect people in unimaginable ways. This essay will analyze the effects of work stress and how society as a whole has a part in influencing work stress from an Anthropological, Sociological and Psychological point of view. From an anthropological point of view, Functional Theory provides an useful lens for understanding work related stress. Functional Theory is the idea that every belief,action or relationship in a culture functions to meet the needs of an individual. Work stress and its causes can be defined as “the harmful physical and emotional responses that can happen when there is a conflict between job demands on the employee and the amount of control an employee has over meeting these demands. In general, the combination of high demands in a job and a low amount of control over the situation can lead to stress.
” (CCOHS, 2018-01-02) Humans place great value in work. We value work because society is based off of a give and take system, we put in work and we get money as well as other benefits sometimes things such as (paid leave, insurance,vacation days etc). With that money we can buy food, houses, entertainment, and all the essential needs to survive. An importance is placed onto work because of this, we are usually raised with the idea that we start to go to school for the exact reason of coming out and working in order to earn money and survive.
Work is the basis of society and because of this we put an immense amount of value towards it. From a functional theorists point of view, the reason that work is such an important factor in today’s society and culture its because work is there to satisfy a relationship between society and the worker, the demands society have on the person to work in order to fulfil a certain position which will allow society as a whole to move forward and for the person to get a certain benefit from working, whether it be the essential needs needed to survive or an alternative motive. However when things don’t go as planned in the workplace (getting fired, not being able to find a job, not getting paid as much as someone else who works the same position as you etc.) you can face multiple mental health issues.
Anxiety, depression, insomnia “Job stress also frequently causes burnout, a condition marked by emotional exhaustion and negative or cynical attitudes toward others and yourself. Burnout can lead to depression, which, in turn, has been linked to a variety of other health concerns such as heart disease and stroke, obesity and eating disorders, diabetes and some forms of cancer. Chronic depression also reduces your immunity to other types of illnesses, and can even contribute to premature death.”(Sara Weiss, Nancy Molitor) This occurs because when this relationship between work, the expectations of society and the person is broken, the person’s needs that were fulfilled by the relationship will also start to vanish. As these needs that were fulfilled vanish it puts stress on the person to find a system that will satisfy his/her needs the same way that relationship between the person and the workplace had.
Work stress can cause damaging long term effects that out weight the benefits you get from working because of the amount of importance we place onto work.From a sociological point of view, Symbolic Interactionism which is defined as “To study the individual’s role and place within the wider society and how people create their world through social interactions, to examine how a physical environment and social structures determine individual behavior” can offer an insight towards work related stress as well as its causes. workplace bullying is fairly common, it can be defined as “Bullying is usually seen as acts or verbal comments that could ‘mentally’ hurt or isolate a person in the workplace. Sometimes, bullying can involve negative physical contact as well. Bullying usually involves repeated incidents or a pattern of behaviour that is intended to intimidate, offend, degrade or humiliate a particular person or group of people. It has also been described as the assertion of power through aggression.”(CCOHS, 2016) It can happen for a multitude of reasons things such as “Zero-sum competition.
Employees are pitted against each other in positions or tasks that allow only one winner to emerge from deliberate battles, creating many losers. Winning is carved out of the hides of the vanquished. It’s a routine way to design work in sales jobs, but unnatural and destructive elsewhere.”(Workplacebullying.org,2017) or “The Workforce Mix A small percentage of employees see the Opportunities and are willing to harm others, at least willing to try to harm others if they can get away with it. They are the manipulators.
They are Machiavellian, not necessarily disturbed or psychopathic. Machs can and would stop their behavior if punished for hurting others. However, in most instances, they are encouraged, rather than discouraged.” (Workplacebullying.org,2017) these are factors that employers/bosses encourage.
Other factors can be caused by your colleagues, things such as “Spreading malicious rumours, gossip, or innuendo.Excluding or isolating someone socially, Intimidating a person, Undermining or deliberately impeding a person’s work, Physically abusing or threatening abuse, Removing areas of responsibilities without cause, Constantly changing work guidelines, Establishing impossible deadlines that will set up the individual to fail, Withholding necessary information or purposefully giving the wrong information, Making jokes that are ‘obviously offensive’ by spoken word or e-mail, Intruding on a person’s privacy by pestering, spying or stalking, Assigning unreasonable duties or workload which are unfavourable to one person (in a way that creates unnecessary pressure), Underwork – creating a feeling of uselessness, Yelling or using profanity, Criticising a person persistently or constantly, Belittling a person’s opinions, Unwarranted (or undeserved) punishment, Blocking applications for training, leave or promotion, Tampering with a person’s personal belongings or work equipment.”(CCOHS, 2016)In the workplace its natural to come across many colleagues. however you might not get along with all of them sometimes you’ll have differing ideas from your colleague’s. This can become a differing idea against a group of colleagues. When this happens it’s possible to be put into a position where you are now forced into a physically and mentally uncomfortable environment where you are being Workplace bullied. There are many negative effects to being workplace bullied, it can cause work stress as well as many mental disorders things such as post-traumatic stress, panic, anxiety, loss of appetite, insomnia and anger.”Drawing on recent developments in work stress theory, this study tested a comprehensive model of bullying in which work environmental and personality factors were hypothesized to act as antecedents of bullying and post-traumatic stress symptoms as an outcome” Work stress may also be prevalent because of certain expectations pushed onto you by your bosses the pressure to perform to meet rising expectations but with no actual increase in job satisfaction.
Expectations can cause workplace stress in fear of being cut from your job if you were to not meet these high standard expectations set by your employer . An example of this may be a work environment where you are urged to push out 205,000$ worth of sales. If you feel like you may not realistically be able to make these sales you might be in fear of being cut from your job. As a result of this fear you start to form an unhealthy relationship with work that won’t cause a satisfaction of actually achieving these sales.”As stated by the Canadian Mental Health Association: Fear of job redundancy, layoffs due to an uncertain economy, and increased demands for overtime due to staff cutbacks act as negative stressors. Employees who start to feel the “pressure to perform” can get caught in a downward spiral of increasing effort to meet rising expectations with no increase in job satisfaction.”(Kriti A. Patel, Shekhar S.
Rajderkar, Jayashree D. Naik, and Vivek S. Behere, 2014) and as such causes extreme work stress because of this employees will try to avoid this environment desperately. “extreme stress is so aversive to employees, that they will try to avoid it by withdrawing either psychologically (through disinterest or lack of involvement in the job) or physically (frequent late coming, absenteeism, lethargy, and so on) or by leaving job entirely. It predisposes the individual to develop several psychosomatic illness, in contrast, the absence of extreme stress would result in more satisfied, happy, healthy, and effective employees.” (Kriti A. Patel, Shekhar S.
Rajderkar, Jayashree D. Naik, and Vivek S. Behere, 2014) This all happens because of the physical and mentally demanding environment they are forced into. In conclusion work stress is extremely prevalent in work environments that have bad physical and mentally draining conditions. From a psychological point of view work stress, its causes and the effects of it can be evaluated using Carl Jung’s analytical psychology which can be defined as “a branch of psychology founded by Carl Jung, based on the idea that balancing a person’s psyche would allow the person to reach his or her full potential.” Balancing the psyche is one of the most important things humans can do, an example of this could be related to school. If you do to much work you won’t have enough time for pleasure and as a result you will mentally suffer however if you put to much focus onto pleasure your academics will suffer as a result. The same thing can be related back to work, you need to have a harmonious balance between work and life, if you don’t balance work you will face mental health issues “Having an in-balance between your work and personal life can have very damaging effects on your health.
An in-balance is basically a lack of clearly defined and consistently enforced boundaries between your work life and your personal life. When you fail to have a healthy work life balance, you end up experiencing emotional stress, anxiety, and even depression.” (Sonia Gallagher, 2017) a statistic released by cambridge university can further support this “In a prospective analysis of participants with no depressive (n=2549) or anxiety symptoms (n=2618) at baseline, Cox proportional hazard analysis adjusted for baseline covariates showed a 1.66-fold risk of depressive symptoms and a 1.
74-fold risk of anxiety symptoms among employees working more than 55 h/week compared with employees working 35–40 h/week.” (M. Virtanen , J.
E. Ferrie , A. Singh-Manoux , M. J. Shipley, 2011) along side facing mental health issues you can also face physical issues ” Damaging effects include a higher risk of stroke, coronary heart disease…
Some studies have shown that individuals who work 55 hours or more per week have a 1.3 times higher risk of stroke than those working standard hours. Sleep deprivation has also been linked to cardiovascular disease and an increased risk of death, causing myocardial infarction and stroke.”(Ana Sandoiu, 2016). There is also a direct correlation between work-life balance and job stress “The pattern is clear: workers who have experienced difficulties balancing work and personal life also are likely to report chronic job stress, compared with those experiencing no change or a reduction in work-life balance difficulties.Indeed, the 55 percent of survey respondents who found it harder to balance work-life reported often or always being under stress in their job, compared with 26 percent of those who found work-life balance easier to achieve” (Gram Lowhe, 2006)