Thriving under Stress: Harnessing Demands in the Workplace

Thriving under Stress: Harnessing Demands in the Workplace

Thriving under Stress: Harnessing Demands in the Workplace

Thriving under Stress: Harnessing Demands in the Workplace

Synopsis

We have all experienced work conditions that tax our ability to cope. Many of us have experienced these demands for long periods of time and have developed psychological, and even physical, problems. Most employees can also recall times when they have dealt with the stress they were under at work, even coming out stronger. What helps employees to perform well and stay healthy under high levels of stress? What are the factors that distinguish those employees? What are the best ways to recover from a stressful day at work? How can employees proactively address stressors they encounter at work, and how can they move from "coping" to "thriving" in the workplace? Thriving Under Stress illuminates the ways stressful working conditions can produce positive outcomes when employees approach demands in the right way, focus on the meaning and significance of their work, and recover appropriately from stressful working conditions, both during the day and when at home. Britt and Jex encourage employees to view themselves as active constructors of their work environment-capable of proactively addressing the burdens they encounter, instead of becoming passive recipients of work stressors.

Excerpt

Have you ever been so overwhelmed at work that you wondered how you were going to survive another day? Have you ever felt so stressed and frustrated that you had images of telling everyone off and then leaving for greener pastures? We have all experienced work conditions that tax our ability to cope and survive. Many of us have experienced these demands for long periods of time and may have developed psychological and even physical problems as a result. However, it is also safe to say that there have been times when we have dealt with the stress we were facing and made it through particularly tough times at work, even coming out stronger as a result. Most of us can also recall times when we experienced significant satisfaction and pride in being able to work under difficult conditions, and realized the effect our hard work was having on the organization and other people. You might have even discovered a talent you did not know you had when you worked on a project that was not part of your primary job.

Unfortunately, many approaches to dealing with demands at work view stress as an inherently toxic experience that should be avoided at all costs, and do not recognize how stress might be used to facilitate personal growth, professional development, and higher levels of performance. In addition, researchers and practitioners have shown a preoccupation with burnout as a central outcome of stressful work, without examining other possible responses to tough working conditions. Employees are often viewed as passive recipients of stressful conditions, rather than as active constructors of their work environment who are capable of proactively addressing many of the demands they encounter. We argue that a hyper-concern with the negative effects of stress at work has prevented an understanding of how stress can be harnessed for growth. Furthermore, completely eliminating work demands could have negative effects on employees developing to their full potential.

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