is an important ingredient for healthy and productive
work. The importance of challenge in our work lives is
probably what people are referring to when they say "a
little bit of stress is good for you."
can be defined as the harmful physical and emotional responses that
occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities,
resources, or needs of the worker. Job stress can lead to poor health
and even injury.
of job stress is often confused with challenge, but these concepts
are not the same. Challenge energizes us psychologically and physically,
and it motivates us to learn new skills and master our jobs. When
a challenge is met, we feel relaxed and satisfied.
But when the
challenge has not been met, it turns into job demands that cannot
be met, relaxation has turned to exhaustion, and a sense of satisfaction
has turned into feelings of stress. In short, the stage is set for
illness, injury, and job failure.
the importance of individual differences cannot be ignored,
scientific evidence suggests that certain working conditions
are stressful to most people. Such evidence argues for
a greater emphasis on working conditions as the key source
of job stress, and for job redesign as a primary prevention
agrees that job stress results from the interaction of the worker
and the conditions of work. Views differ, however, on the importance
of worker characteristics versus working conditions as the primary
cause of job stress. These differing viewpoints are important because
they suggest different ways to prevent stress at work.
one school of thought, differences in individual characteristics
such as personality and coping style are most important in predicting
whether certain job conditions will result in stressin other
words, what is stressful for one person may not be a problem for
someone else. This viewpoint leads to prevention strategies that
focus on workers and ways to help them cope with demanding job conditions.
Institute for Occupational Safety and Health favors the view that
working conditions play a primary role in causing job stress. However,
the role of individual factors is not ignored. According to the
NIOSH view, exposure to stressful working conditions (called job
stressors) can have a direct influence on worker safety and health.
But as shown
below, individual and other situational factors can intervene to
strengthen or weaken this influence. A person's need to care for
an ill parent is an increasingly common example of an individual
or situational factor that may intensify the effects of stressful
working conditions. Examples of individual and situational factors
that can help to reduce the effects of stressful working conditions
include the following:
between work and family or personal life
support network of friends and coworkers
relaxed and positive outlook
for Occupational Safety and Health