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Occupational Stress - Essay Example

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Occupational Stress

In economically advanced societies, work and occupation take on a central position in adult life. Occupation defines the most important criterion for social stratification in advanced societies. Occupational settings produce the most pervasive continuous demands during one's lifetime, and they absorb the largest amount of time in adult life (Albrecht et al 2003). Contemporary definitions of stress favour a transactional perspective; this emphasises that stress is located neither in the person, nor in the environment, but in the relationship between the two (Cooper et al, quoted in Clarke & Cooper 2004:5)
Selye(1981, quoted in Grant et al 1995) said that work is an essential need for everyone. The question is not whether we should or should no work, but what kind of work suits us best. Consequently, external and internal sources of stress and their subsequent strain has a cause and effect relationship, and are experienced and suffered by employees and workers in their societies. "Occupational stress is a growing problem that results in substantial stress to individual employees and work organizations around the globe. The changing nature of work has placed unprecedented demands on employees and fuelled concerns about the effect this change is having on the well being and the health of their employees and their work organizations" (Anderson et al 2001:93). As social inequalities in health continue to be a key public health problem, scientific theories that explain these inequalities are needed (Siegrist and Marmot 2003). Thus, there are many approaches to occupational stress. They involve types of causal and affected variables, and also different labels are used (Cooper 1998). The two most significant models of occupational stress put forth are the (i) Demand-Control-Support Model by Robert A. Karasek, and further developed by T. Theorell as well as by Johnson and Hall and the (ii) Effort Reward Imbalance model introduced by Johannes Siegrist.
Comparison and Contrast:
The Demand-Control-Support (DCS) Model : Salient Features
The demand-control-support model was developed by Karasek and his colleagues during the 1980s. According to this model, psychological demands (both qualitative and quantitative) have more averse consequences if they occur jointly with lack of possibility to influence decisions regarding the job, ie, low decision latitude. Low decision latitude has two components- (i) authority over decisions (the immediate possibility that the individual has to influence decisions regarding what to do and how to do it at work and (ii) intellectual discretion, which is the opportunity that the organization gives the individual to use and develop skills at work so that s/he can develop the possibility of control in the work situation (Moon and Sauter 1996). According to Karasek, who introduced this model, psychological distress is influenced by high demand/low control combinations. Conversely, an increase in control increases job satisfaction. According to ...Show more

Summary

Before going on to compare and contrast the "Demand-Control-Support" and "Effort-Reward-Imbalance" models of occupational stress, let us briefly define occupational stress and understand its sources and consequences. Despite lack of consensus on the exact definition of occupational stress, and the fact that 'occupational stress', 'job stress' and 'work stress' is often used interchangeably, it is generally believed that occupational stress is "associated with aversive or unpleasant emotional states that people experience as a consequence of their work…
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