This chapter reviews research evidence of the effects of occupational stress on employee-related outcomes, including health and wellbeing, reduced productivity, absenteeism, turnover and work-related accidents. These stress outcomes are of particular relevance due to their practical implications for organisations. However, the behavioural symptoms of stress are studied far less frequently than psychological effects.
Reviews of stress research distinguish between three major categories of strain: physiological, psychological and behavioural (Kahn and Byosiere 1992). A literature review conducted by Cooper et al. (2001) revealed that the measurement of physiological strain, such as cardiovascular, biochemical and gastrointestinal symptoms (Fried et al. 1984), was relatively rare, with the most common measures being blood pressure and heart rate. Self-report measures, utilising checklists of physical symptoms of health, were most popular, and research suggests that such measures are significantly related to a variety of work stressors, but relationships are relatively small (Jex and Beehr 1991). The type of physiological strain produced by an acute stressor may be quite different from that produced by chronic stressors (Fried et al . 1984). Research reviews indicate that psychological strains, such as job dissatisfaction and tension/anxiety, are strong correlates of work-related stressors (Jackson and Schuler 1985; Jex and Beehr 1991; Kahn and Byosiere 1992).
As noted in the previous chapter, the research evidence to support the adverse effects that stress has on individual health is well documented (Cooper and Cartwright 1994; Cooper 1996). These negative effects include physical complaints and illnesses (Cooper and Payne 1988; Cooper and Watson 1991) and reduced mental