Work Stress & Job Satisfaction

by Billie Nordmeyer

Although your job may not impose physical demands, your work may expose you to other stresses, such as frequent travel, internal and external scrutiny of your work or having little say in the way in which you spend your time. Even so, your job may not appear in a list of most stressful jobs. There are, however, physical and emotional hazards associated with any job in which an employee strives to achieve his growth potential, toils away in a competitive work environment or attempts to meet the requirements of particularly demanding customers. One such result is a decline in job satisfaction.

Cause of Job Stress

A survey conducted by the American Psychological Association reported that, in 2012, 72 percent of survey participants believed their stress level had increased over the past 5 years and that 20 percent rated their stress as an 8, 9, or 10 on a 10-point scale. A primary source of stress for 65 percent of the survey’s respondents was work stress. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describe work stress as the body’s physical and emotional response when a worker’s capabilities and resources are misaligned with his job’s requirements. Unlike work challenges that serve as motivation to learn new skills, work stress can result from an excessive workload or contradictory expectations.

Job Stress and Job Requirements

Although the stresses of some jobs, such as working as an army infantryman, are very evident, the stress imposed by other lines of work may not be so obvious. For example, when thinking of a corporate executive, you might think only of salary and corporate jets, rather than the 18-hour days the executive might spend in boardrooms and other less-than-hospitable locales. In addition, it may seem obvious that the risk associated with certain professions, such as cab driver or police officer, may lead to work stress. However, employees might experience stress even if the probability is low that they might be robbed or shot. For instance, any time employees are unsure of whom they are dealing with, they experience stress. Particular roles, such as account executive, also might be the source of stress because the employee must face constant rejection throughout her workday.

Causes of Job Satisfaction

It’s not surprising that people think of an amusement park, rather than a workplace, when someone speaks of “The happiest place on earth.” But it’s not unrealistic to believe people can be satisfied with their work. Job satisfaction is that ethereal something that keeps an employee from being one of those surveyed by the Manpower Group who report he is not engaged by his work. Job satisfaction is the result job characteristics, such as an equitable salary, great co-workers, appropriate work hours, opportunity for advancement and self-improvement.

Job Stress and Job Satisfaction

If an employee’s knowledge and skills don’t allow him to cope with work demands, his perception of his job is likely to be negative, and his ability to cope with workloads, work hours and certain work conditions lessens. In turn, the employee might begin to experience physiological and psychological stress, such as headaches, chest pain, anxiety and nervousness. Such physiological and psychological stress can negatively affect the employee’s satisfaction, commitment, productivity and quality. The less the employee’s satisfaction and productivity, the greater his feeling of hopelessness and helplessness -- and the greater his frustration and discontent with his job.

About the Author

Billie Nordmeyer works as a consultant advising small businesses and Fortune 500 companies on performance improvement initiatives, as well as SAP software selection and implementation. During her career, she has published business and technology-based articles and texts. Nordmeyer holds a Bachelor of Science in accounting, a Master of Arts in international management and a Master of Business Administration in finance.

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