Stress is defined as the result produced when a structure, system or organism is acted upon by forces that disrupt equilibrium or produce strain. In simpler terms, stress is the result of any emotional, physical, social, economic, or other factors that require a response or change. It is generally believed that some stress is okay (sometimes referred to as “challenge” or “positive stress”). However, when stress occurs in amounts that one cannot handle, both mental and physical changes may occur (Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety CCOHS, 2016, p.1).
Considering this general definition of stress, applying the definition based on different workplace contexts and based on different research definitions, this research attempts to present a working literature review on the subject. The literature evidence used has been collected from different research studies ranging from 2006-2017. The inclusion criteria are English language studies only and typically analyse only those studies that focus on stress in organizations and its impact on employees, the organizational productivity, relationships and more.
Kara et al. (2013) study the effects of stress in a specific context. They seem to imply that stress in organization has multiple adverse effects for the organization. The effects range from the burnout of employees leading to physical and emotional exhaustion to turnover issues and conflicts. Kara et al. (2013) argue that leadership, organizational learning, adaptation and training measures are needed to mitigate the adverse stress effects.
For instance, consider some workplaces where work shift assignments are implemented. The use of work shift assignments could result in stress increased practices. The use of work-shift assignments is an employment practice that many organizations as in the case of hospitals for instance, practice on a regular basis. To meet the demands of the customer, sometimes, it is necessary to work in a 24-hour work schedule. Organizational advantages could be possible (Luthans, 2002; Luthans & Youssef, 2007). However, there would also be areas of concerns. For instance, as researchers state as a result of working on a night versus day shift there could be the prevalence of multiple stressors in employees. This could exacerbate the harmful consequences in experiencing incivility. The multiple negative stressors could be a difficult combination. Not all managements are supportive of this. Mawritz & Folger (2014) argue that the workplace supervision is to blame for most of the negative effects. They use a framework to identify how much of supervisor issues are causing stress to the employees. They can identify both direct and indirect effects because of the stress. Where the supervisor could not provide the necessary form of support to the employee, then the supervisor is denying employee any form of access to coping mechanisms. With time, it leads to a situation of overall deterioration.