JOBSTRESS AND EMPLOYEE SATISFACTION
The research concerned an investigation of an employee level of jobstress and the effect of such stress on the satisfaction, whichaffects his performance. The scales used to investigate job stressare career development, work role and task, workplace relationship,wages and benefits, and organizational structure. The scales on jobsatisfaction are job design, goals and targets as well as thesupervision. The research employed survey questions administeredthrough face-to-face communication. The setting was atechnology-based organization involved in the production and supplyof consumer electronics. The participant was an employee serving inthe department of product development. The research established thatfailure to meet employee needs and expectations causes stress that inturn causes job dissatisfaction. It then recommended that theorganization has to focus on employees’ needs and meet theirexpectations to avoid employee stress and dissatisfaction.
Executive Summary 2
Assessment Tools 6
Results and Analysis 7
Causes of Stress 7
Job Satisfaction 8
Appendix I: Interview Questions 13
JOBSTRESS AND EMPLOYEE SATISFACTION
In the contemporary environment of business operations, work stresshas become an issue of great concern amongst managers, workers aswell as other stakeholders. More importantly, scholars haveestablished a clear relationship between employee stress and jobsatisfaction that, in turn, affects employee performance and theoverall productivity of the organization. Therefore, as a means ofestablishing a culture of high performance, managers have recognizedthe significance of understanding the concepts regarding employeestress in the work environment to help their employees in themanagement of stress to achieve higher levels of satisfaction thatwill result to high productivity. In this regard, the report concernsa measure of an employee serving a technical position in atechnology-based organization in London, followed by an assessment ofhow stress is affecting his satisfaction level in the organization.The organization is a major player in the production of consumerelectronics products in which innovation is the most significantstrategy for its growth in the market. Therefore, low job stress andjob satisfaction among employees is significant in the successfulimplementation of the strategy hence the need for the management tomonitor its employees’ level of satisfaction regularly toaccomplish its objectives and implement the necessary measures.
The study started by an identification of the employee who worked inthe organization for more than ten years in the technical departmentresponsible for product development. The researcher then booked anappointment with the employee and asked the employee to fill in thequestionnaire. The questionnaire contained a cover page that providedan explanation on the objectives of the research as well as theprocedures. The respondent then completed the questionnaire with ahigh degree of freedom. He was assured that his participation wasvoluntary and his response would be taken with a high regard. Ampletime was allowed to ensure that the respondent provided accurateanswers.
The study tool comprised of a self-administered questionnaireconsisting of two major sections:
Section 1: assessed job stress in which there were five subscales,which provided a measure of the job stress. Based on the Cooper andMarshall Model, the researcher pointed the five subscales as careerdevelopment, work role and task, workplace relationships, wages andbenefits as well as the organizational structure and stressatmosphere (See Appendix I). The respondent was asked to rate hisperception regarding work stress on each individual item using afive-score scale: Very stressful (5), stressful (4), moderatelystressful (3), slightly stressful (2) and not stressful at all (1).
Section 2: evaluated job satisfaction in which three subscalesdescribed the employee level of job satisfaction. The subscales arejob design, the goals and targets as well as the mode of supervision.The respondent was asked to indicate his degree of job satisfactionon the scale: strongly satisfied (5), satisfied (4), moderatelysatisfied (3), dissatisfied (2) and strongly dissatisfied (1).
Results and Analysis
The research relied on statistical analysis to draw meaning from theanswers provided by the respondent.
Causes of Stress
The respondent had different views regarding the effect of each ofthe five subscales that provided an evaluation of his stress. Whileeach has a significant contribution towards the employee level ofstress, there seem to be a variation depending on the extent that theorganization addresses each individual item. Figure 1 below providesa summary of the results on the stress contributors to the employee.
The employee scored a high range of stress on career development.This indicates that the employee finds that the organization strategyfor career development is poor and not supporting him. In addition,based on further discussions, it was found that the employee isstressed with the manner the organization offers him training. Onwork role and tasks, the employee scored most highly meaning that heis not happy in the way the management assigns him roles and tasks.The discussions with him proved that the management assigns him moretasks and roles that do not match his working capabilities. Onworkplace relationships, the employee recorded a very high scoreindicating poor relationships in the workplace. In the discussions,he expressed that he is not happy with the modes of communication andsettlement of conflicts. However, on wages and benefits, the employeescored very low showing that the reward system pleases him. In thediscussions, he expressed that the reward system matches his level ofcontribution to the corporation. Finally, the employee recorded anearly average score on organizational structure showing that thestructure stresses him but fairly at a low level. Based on thediscussions, it was found that the organizational structure is notefficiently positioned to relieve the employee from stress.
The chart below (figure 2) displays the results obtained regardingemployee level of job satisfaction.
The employee had a nearly average score on job design meaning thatthe design of the job is fair but lacks some of the importantfeatures to make it perfect. Based on the discussions with theemployee, it was found that the management takes long time tore-design the job to align with the new changes in the environment.On goals and supervision, the employee scored the lowest, whichindicates that the goals and targets set for him are not appropriate.Based on further discussions, it was found that the goals are tooambitious and the targets are too high to be reached smoothly withinthe deadlines. Finally, the employee scored lowly on supervisionmeaning that the level of supervision in the organization is poor.Based on the discussions, it was found that the supervisors are tooharsh and their frequency of visit is very high preventing him fromworking autonomously.
Career development: the management should design and implement an effective strategy that directly focuses on the development of employee careers. This means that it is necessary to arrange constant trainings that aim at helping employees to achieve their career objectives. In addition, the assignment of tasks must correspond to the employee career objectives indicated by his educational backgrounds and areas of interest. In addition, it depends on the areas where the employee has demonstrated competence. To ensure the realization of this goal, the process of recruitment must align with both the requirements of the job as well as the skills and education of the new individuals. This will help in enhancing the level of appreciation that in turn will lower stress levels.
Work tasks and role: the management must ensure that the designation of the tasks and roles is in line with the employee working capabilities both physically and mentally. In addition, the tasks must offer reasonable challenges to the employee but not too high or too low, which in turn will cause excessive straining and lack of interest respectively. As the employee grows and acquires more experience, the roles and tasks become, much simpler hence requires the management to redefine them constantly. This also has an effect of reducing monotony that will lower employee stress level.
Workplace relationships: the management must build good relationships between employees through effective system of communication and sharing of information. This will come through an establishment of values and norms that helps in creating harmony and friendship amongst employees. When this happen, sharing of problems becomes a norm and greatly lowers employee stress level.
Wages and benefits: the current system of payment and reward is excellent hence the management has to continue implementing it to assist in meeting employee expectations. However, improvements are always necessary to achieve better outcomes. The reward system must exceed the expectations of employees as well as the minimum standards set by the government and the market.
Organizational structure: the management must change its organizational structure to suit the needs and desires of employees. The structure must consider all-important aspects that affect employee stress such as personal desires, culture as well as aspects of decision-making.
Job design: the designation of the job must be appropriate according to the required goals. The tasks should not overlap and the sequence of operations should not be monotonous. The job must give room for the employee to identify himself with the results, which will help in improving employee level of satisfaction.
Goals and targets: the goals and targets should be appropriate both on employee capabilities as well as duration allowed. The deadlines should not be too close or too far, as this will cause frustrations that in turn will lead to less satisfaction.
Supervision: the supervision should be effective and professional to avoid influencing negative feelings that lower employee level of job satisfaction and performance.
Job stress affects employee level of satisfaction that affects theoverall performance in the workplace. The organization’s strategyfor employee career development, work tasks and roles, workplacerelationships and organizational structure do not meet employeeexpectations hence are contributing to employee stress. However, thereward system is excellent leading to employee satisfaction. The jobdesign is inappropriate to employee working style leading to lowlevel of satisfaction. In addition, tough targets and improperlydefined goals cause low level of employee satisfaction. Thesupervision is also unprofessional contributing to low satisfactionthat is lowering employee performance. A revision of all the weakareas is necessary to minimize employee stress and enhance the levelof satisfaction.
Appendix I: Interview Questions
Are you stressed with the manner your job is contributing to the development of your career? Why? Why not?
Are the work roles and tasks stressing you? Why?
Are you happy with the workplace relationships? Why?
Are you pleased with the wages and benefits you receive? Why?
Are you stressed with the organizational structure? Why?
Are you satisfied with the designation of your job?
Are the set goals and targets appropriate for you? Why?
Are you happy with the manner you are supervised? Why?
Scholars have proposed various models that assist in evaluating themajor aspects that cause stress to an employee. The choice of anyparticular model depends on the prevailing conditions in theorganization as well as the characteristics that define the overallbehavior of workers. The outcome depends on the individualcapabilities of the management in understanding and applying themodels appropriately in the manner that suits the employees as wellas the goals and culture of the organization. Therefore, no singlemodel that is suitable for all prevailing conditions hence thoroughexamination of the situation is necessary before choosing anyspecific model for the specific problem.
Explanation of the Relevant Theories
The steady-state theory suggests that an employee stress level isfixed in a certain equilibrium position and will either increase ordecrease depending on the change in the environment. If the change isdesirable for the employee, then the level of stress will reduce.Similarly, if the change is undesirable, then the stress level willincrease. However, after some time, depending on the magnitude of thechange, the stress level will resettle to its equilibrium position.To ensure that the management maintains a low level of stress in theemployee it will have to maintain a regular and effective desirablechange that will maintain a lower stress level from the equilibriumposition (Cummings & Cooper, 1979). Therefore, the employeedevelopment system must be effective and implemented regularly tokeep the stress level below the equilibrium position, meaning thatthe employee will always be happy about his job and always willing toimprove his performance. The theory is very relevant in thecontemporary business environment characterized by rapidly changingmethods and techniques of doing business that calls for a higherflexibility in the modes of operation. However, the applicability ofthe model requires a strict examination of the individualcharacteristics of the employee. In addition, it heavily depends onthe availability of adequate resources hence not suitable during acrisis. Lazarus and Folkman (1984) expressed a similar view withtheir cognitive theory when they argued that stress might occur whenthe available resources fail to meet the demands of the environment.
Furthermore, Karasek demand-control theory suggests that stressresults from the combined effects of the degree of autonomy in makingdecisions as well as the effect of work demand (Karasek, 1979).Therefore, the designation of the work roles and tasks must allowsome reasonable autonomy for employees to make decisions regardingthe manner of performing the tasks. Therefore, stress will occurwhere the employee has totally lost freedom in deciding some issues.In addition, the job demands should not be too ambitious, as thiswill cause stress when the worker strains beyond his capabilities tofulfill the demands. The model is also suitable as it promotesdiversity of thought that in turn will influence rapid innovationthat is crucial especially for the technology companies. However, themodel lacks relevance in the most critical areas where freedom causesa great threat to the organization. In addition, the success of themodel depends on employee commitment towards the organization toavoid the risk of making harmful decisions that may adversely affectthe performance of the organization. Therefore, good managementpractices that will establish organizational citizenship arenecessary for the organization to win the best outcome since apartfrom releasing employee stress it also enhances innovation.
To continue, the effort-reward imbalance model proposed by Siegrist(1996) suggests that stress will occur because of a mismatch betweenthe effort at work or high employee commitment and the rewardsincluding low wages, lack of promotion, recognition, careerdevelopment as well as respect. Therefore, if the wage level does notcorrespond to employee level of commitment and contribution to thesuccess of the organization, the stress level will increase. In thisregard, the employee feels that he is not receiving a fair share fromthe organization. This explains why the efficient reward systemcontributes very low level to the employee stress. The model is themost applicable in the contemporary society as its view correspondsto that of the equity theory. However, the applicability of the modelrequires more resources hence not suitable for a young organizationor during a crisis. In addition, the quality of the outcome dependslargely on the reward systems implemented by other similar players inthe industry. The model also requires constant employee evaluationconducted fairly and professionally to identify the employee with thehighest performance to ensure equity during compensation. However,apart from releasing employee stress, the model is the most suitablein promoting employee commitment and citizenship behavior.
Additionally, Cooper and Marshall (2013) suggested that the rolewithin the organization, the job intrinsic requirements, careerdevelopment, work relationships as well as the organization structureand climate contribute to employee psychological strain whenimplemented inappropriately. In this regard, poor work relationshipscaused by ineffective methods of communication, sharing ofinformation and solution of conflicts results to high levels ofstress. In addition, if the job requirements are too harsh for theemployee to meet then psychological strain results. Furthermore,inappropriate organizational structure or climate fuels high levelsof employee stress necessitating the need for establishing a suitableatmosphere that fits the culture and behavior of employees. The modelis comprehensive because it considers most of the important aspectsthat cause employee stress hence more suitable for an organizationwith multiple problems regarding employee stress management. However,it requires strict examination of the most relevant variables andprioritization depending on the prevailing conditions in theworkplace.
When an employee joins any particular organization, he already hassome expectations that he wishes to meet from the job. Theseexpectations, according to Mitchell (2004) depend on many factorssuch as previous experiences and his observation in otherorganizations. Therefore, as suggested by the expectancy theory,failure to realize his expectations will contribute todissatisfaction depending on the degree of deviation. Therefore, thejob design must be appropriate to deliver what employees expectdepending on the market requirements and what other organizations aredoing. In this regard, the job design must incorporate all thesignificant current inventions to create the uniqueness required inexceeding employee expectations. The design must be capable ofinfluencing employees to feel that they are getting better than whatother employees in other similar organizations are getting. This willlead to a high level of satisfaction that also contributes to a lowlevel of stress. However, it requires an efficient system ofacquiring information and research to know what other similarorganizations are offering to their employees. In addition, care isnecessary during the implementation process to avoid the idea offocusing more on what other organizations are doing rather than thereal problems that affect your business.
Next is that employee needs well-defined goals and clearly settargets to work effectively and efficiently as suggested by thegoal-setting theory. However, if the goals and targets are tooambitious, it will force employees to strain leading to increasedstress and dissatisfaction. Therefore, the goals and targets have tobe realistic and appropriate depending on the available time,resources and employee working capabilities (Locke & Latham,2002). The theory is relevant under all conditions and relied heavilyby managers of all business organizations. However, the need forrapid innovation to match the rapidly changing consumer desiresprovokes the management to set over-ambitious goals and targets thatnot only contribute to employee stress but also lead to low levels ofsatisfaction when employees feel mistreated and overworked.
Finally, satisfaction is evident where leadership demonstrates a highlevel of ethical conduct to enable them to act as role models to thejunior employees according to the reinforcement theory. Landy (2008)mentioned that the leaders must treat its employees fairly in arespective manner without hurting their feelings. Therefore, goodapproach and communication during supervision are necessary to avoidcausing stress and dissatisfaction. The application of this modeldoes not require any funds, but the leaders need the appropriateskills that may come through training.
Job stress results from the failure of the organization to meetemployee needs and expectations. Too tough goals and targets loweremployee level of satisfaction and raises stress levels. An efficientreward system promotes job satisfaction and releases employee stress.The job tasks and roles must conform to employee work capabilities toavoid inducing psychological strain. The structure of theorganization must align with the feelings and desires of employees tocreate a friendly environment characterized by high job satisfactionand low levels of stress.
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