Edited By Dr. Sunil Kumar Dr. S.B. Yadav
Positive Psychology Published by Global Vision Publishing House
Occupational Stress and Diverse Coping Behaviour: A Study on Management Trainees Sunil Kumar* and Yashpal Kaur Rooprai**
ABSTRACT The main purpose of the research was to explore whether there is a relationship between coping behaviour and occupational stress. Review of literature highlights that the variables of coping behaviour influence an individual’s resilience whenever a stressful circumstance occurs. The research was quantitative in nature. Ways of Coping Questionnaire - WCQ and Occupational Stress Index - OSI were used for data collection. WCQ consists of eight coping scales namely, confrontive coping, distancing, self-controlling, seeking social support, accepting responsibility, escape avoidance, planful problem solving and positive reappraisal. OSI have twelve subscales, i.e., role overload, role ambiguity, role conflict, unreasonable group and political pressure, responsibility for persons, under participation, powerlessness, poor peer relations, intrinsic impoverishment, low status, strenuous working condition and unprofitability. A sample of 112 management trainees having six months experience was taken. Results reveal that adaptive coping was most commonly used by the respondent. As expected, significant relationship was found among most of the variables.
1. INTRODUCTION In present scenario of economic downturn, “Layoffs” and “budget cuts” have become good examples in the workplace, which results in increased fear, uncertainty, and higher levels of stress. Since job and workplace stress grow in times of economic crisis, it is important to learn new and better ways of coping with the pressure. The ability to manage stress in the workplace can make the difference between success or failure on the job. Stress can be defined as body response to physical and mental demands. Stress is involved in an environmental situation that perceived as presenting demand which threatens to exceed the person’s *
Assistant Professor, School of Management, Gautam Buddha University, Greater Noida, India.
Assistant Professor, Business School of Delhi, Greater Noida, India.
Sunil Kumar and Yashpal Kaur Rooprai
capabilities and resources for meeting it, under conditions where he or she expects a substantial differential in the rewards and costs from meeting the demand versus not meeting it (Mcgrath, 1976). According to Folkman, & Lazarus, (1984) occupational stress occurs when occupational demands exceed an individual’s adaptive resources. It is reportedly one of the most frequent reactions that people report. Occupational stress is anything regarding the working environment or nature of work itself that causes individual perceived stress (Rohany, 2003). Occupational stress has also defined as “the response people may have when presented with work demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope” (Leka, et.al.,2004). Researches in behavioural psychology have shown that stress can be good or be a threat to the person depending on the level of stress perceived. Occupational stress is due to organizational aspects, long work hours, lack of organizational support and organizational change (Davey, et.al., 2001), lack of support from supervisors and colleagues, and conflict with demands and pressures (Leka, et.al.,2004). Sources of managerial stress have been well documented since the late 1970s. Ivancevich, and Matteson, (1980) have identified four categories of work stressors: physical environment, individual level (a mixer of role and career development variables), group level (primarily relationship-based) and organizational level (a mixture of climate, structure, job design and task characteristic) Another study identifies seven categories of work stressors in organizations: job qualities, relationships, organizational structure, physical qualities, career development, change and role in the organization (Schuler, 1982). Quick, and Quick, (1984) have identified another four categories of stressors: task demands, physical demands and interpersonal demands. Role conflicts, role ambiguity, role overload and under load, is widely examined individual stressors (Mcgrath, J.E.,1976; Newton, & Keenen, 1987).
Coping Behaviour Coping is viewed as stabilizing factor that may help individuals maintain psychological adaptation during stress period (Lazarus, & Folkman, 1984; Moose, & Billings, 1982). Active and cognitive coping have been found to be positively associated with negative life events. Individuals who had more personal and environmental resources were more likely to rely on active coping and less likely to use avoidance coping (Holahan, & Moos, 1987), and also they pointed out that individual who are adapted to stress with little physical or psychological strain were less inclined to rely on avoidance coping then were people who showed psychological dysfunction under stress (Holahan, & Moos, 1987). Coping is defined as the cognitive and behavioural efforts used to manage specific external order and/or internal demands appraised as taxing or exceeding the resources of the individual (Folkman, & Lazarus, 1988). Coping is a process that consists of both problem focused coping potential (options for influencing the situation) and emotion-focused coping potential (ability to emotionally adapt to the situation). Thus coping style can be classified as emotion focused and problem focused. Emotion-focused coping style: The main focus of this coping style is to regulate emotional reactions. Some examples of emotion-focused coping include wishful thinking, avoidance, positive
Occupational Stress and Diverse Coping Behaviour
re-evaluation, idealism and community support. Some of these are adaptive and others are not (Folkman, & Lazarus, 1984). Problem-focused coping style: It aims to alter the external person-environment relationship that is causing the stress (Folkman, & Lazarus, 1984). Some examples of problem-focused coping include active coping, planning, and suppression of competitive activities. This can again be positive or negative.
Research Question The research mainly aimed to study following research questions: •
What are the occupational stress factors among management trainees and what coping behaviour is adopted by them?
Does a relationship exist between the variables of occupational stress and coping behaviour among management trainees?
METHODOLOGY Participants The sample for this study consisted of 112 management trainees, drawn on the basis of random sampling from different industries situated in and around Delhi-NCR. All the participants where having MBA or PGDM degree. The age range of the respondent was 24 – 30, with a mean age of 27.
Measures Occupational Stress: A well developed and widely used Occupational Stress Index (OSI) in the Indian context was chosen to assess the occupational stress of the sample (Srivastava, & Singh, 1981). The questionnaire is consisted of 46 statements with five alternative responses e.g., 5 for strongly agree, 4 for mildly agree 3 agree, 2 for disagree and 1 for strongly disagree. More the score on this scale indicates more stress. OSI have 12 subscales i.e., role over-load, role ambiguity, role conflict, unreasonable group and political pressure, responsibility for persons, under participation, powerlessness, poor peer relations, intrinsic impoverishment, low status, strenuous working conditions and unprofitability. Coping Behaviour: Ways of Coping Questionnaire (WCQ) was used to measure the coping behaviour (Folkman, & Lazarus, 1988). WCQ assesses cognitions and behaviours that people frequently use to cope with stressful life occurrences (Folkman, & Lazarus, 1988). The WCQ have 66 items which evaluates coping responses through a 4-point likert scale and further separates these responses into 8 categories: confrontive coping, distancing, self-controlling, seeking social support, accepting responsibility, escape–avoidance, planful problem solving, and positive reappraisal. The description of each category is given below: 1. Confrontive Coping: describes aggressive efforts to alter the situation and suggests some degree of hostility and risk-taking. 2. Distancing: describes cognitive efforts to detach oneself and to minimize the significance of the situation.
Sunil Kumar and Yashpal Kaur Rooprai
3. Self-Controlling: describes efforts to regulate one’s feelings and actions. 4. Seeking Social Support: describes efforts to seek informational support, tangible support, and emotional support. 5. Accepting Responsibility: acknowledges one’s own role in the problem with a concomitant theme of trying to put things right. 6. Escape-Avoidance: describes wishful thinking and behavioural efforts to escape or avoid the problem. Items on this scale contrast with those on the Distancing scale, which suggest detachment. 7. Planful Problem Solving: describes deliberate problem-focused efforts to alter the situation, coupled with an analytic approach to solving the problem. 8. Positive Reappraisal: describes efforts to create positive meaning by focusing on personal growth. It also has a religious dimension.
Data Analysis The Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) Version 17.0 was used to analyze the data. Both descriptive statistics (mean and standard deviation) and inferential statistics (Pearson correlation) were used for data analysis.
RESULT AND DISCUSSION The results are shown in table 1 and table 2. Table one represents the descriptive statistics of all the 20 variables of Occupational Stress and Coping Behaviour. Table 2 represents the inter-correlation between the variables of occupational stress and coping behaviour. It is pertinent to see that the correlation between Role Ambiguity and Confrontive Coping is highly significant. The inter-correlation is .254, which is significant at .01 probability level. Similarly Role Conflict also has significant correlation with Confrontive Coping with an inter-correlation of .354, which is also significant at .01 probability level. It shows that when a person is under stress due to role ambiguity or role conflict can make aggressive efforts to alter the situation. His /her coping behaviour may become hostile in such situations. Role conflict has also significant correlation with Distancing Coping Behaviour with a correlation of .418 (significant at .01Probability level). The person having stress due to role conflict can also make efforts to detach themselves from the situation. Unreasonable group and political Pressure (a variable of occupational stress) also has significant correlation with Seeking social support (a variable of coping Behaviour) with a correlation of .266. Unreasonable group and political Pressure can lead an employee to seek social support. They preferably make efforts to seek informational support, tangible support and emotional support as well. Role conflict has also significant correlation with Accepting responsibility. The inter-correlation is .203, which is significant at .05 probability. It shows that the person under role conflict can also accept responsibility and can acknowledge their role in such situations. Low status, a variable of occupational stress, has a significant correlation with Escape Avoidance Coping behaviour. The inter-correlation between both the variables is .217 (significant at .05 probability level). It shows that the people which are under stress due to low status can use Escape-avoidance coping behaviour. They can make a tendency to escape or avoid the problems, which can leads to detachment from the situation.
Occupational Stress and Diverse Coping Behaviour Table 1
Descriptive Statistics Sr. No.
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
Role ambiguity Role conflict Unreasonable Group & Political Pressure Responsibility for persons Underparticipation Powerlessness Poor Peer relations Intrinsic impoverishment Low status Strenuous Working conditions Unprofitability Confrontive coping Distancing Self-controlling Seeking social support Accepting responsibility Escape avoidance Planful problem solving Positive reappraisal
RA RC UGPP RP UP PL PPR II LS SWC UF CC DT SC SSS AR EA PPS PR
7.20 8.68 6.80 5.62 6.76 5.65 6.29 6.59 5.06 6.73 3.42 3.91 1.07 2.71 4.09 2.54 1.20 4.07 4.13
1.81 2.37 1.81 1.72 1.76 1.63 1.51 1.74 1.56 1.65 1.05 1.28 0.89 1.21 1.34 1.36 0.95 1.31 1.37
Note: -Occupational Stress Variables are from 1 to 12 and Coping Behaviour Variables are from 13 to 20. Table 2 Inter-correlation Matrix Variables
Confrontive Distancing SelfSeeking Accepting Escape Planful Positive coping controlling social responsibility avoidance problem reappraisal support solving
Unreasonable Group Contd. table 2...
Sunil Kumar and Yashpal Kaur Rooprai
164 Contd. table 2... Political Pressure
Responsibility for persons
Poor Peer relations
Strenuous Working conditions
Intrinsic impoverishment correlates significantly with planful problem solving with an intercorrelation of .237 (significant at .05probability level). Intrinsic impoverishment includes monotonous nature of assignments, opportunity to utilize abilities and experience independently, opportunities to develop aptitude and proficiency, place of suggestion in problem solving etc. A person having stress due to Intrinsic impoverishment adopt planful problem solving coping behaviour. Where a person deliberately make problem – focused efforts to alter the stressful situation. Such person can also use an analytical approach to solve the problems. Thus results indicate that there is a significant relationship among the variable of occupational stress and coping behaviour. Coping behaviour can very as per the causes of stress and individual; differences can be seen with this regard.
LIMITATIONS AND SUGGESTIONS The main limitation of the study was that the management trainees were taken as a sample which was having an experience of six months. As most of the respondents are of young adult age which is characterized by aspirations and stress. Being the new entrant in the corporate world and due to lack of experience there coping behaviour toward stress may not be appropriate. Another limitation is sample selection which is very small and only limited to young adults; to generalize the results a wide age range should be included in sample. It is recommended for future research that a larger sample size should be taken addressing the variety of age range. Companies have to see the stress level of their employees and should help them in better coping with that. There is a research gap in management field in terms of such research. Coping behaviour should be tested during recruitment process so that organization can easily help their employees to meet out future challenges.
CONCLUSION The statistical findings of the present study reveals there is significant relationship between most of the variables of occupational stress i.e., Role overload, Role ambiguity, Role conflict, Unreasonable group and political pressure, responsibility for persons, under participation, Powerlessness, Poor peer relation, Intrinsic impoverishment, low status, strenuous working conditions and unprofitability
Occupational Stress and Diverse Coping Behaviour
and the variables of coping behaviour i.e., confrontive coping, distancing, self controlling, seeking social support, accepting responsibility, escape-avoidance, planful problem solving and positive reappraisal. On the basis of obtained results it can be said that adaptive coping behaviour leads to manage occupational stress positively. REFERENCES Davey, J., Obst, P., & Sheehan, M. (2001). Demographic and workplace characteristics which add to the prediction of stress and job satisfaction within the police workplace. Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, 16(1), 29-39. Folkman, S. & Lazarus, R. S. (1988). Manual for the Ways of Coping Questionnaire. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press. Folkman, S., & Lazarus, R.S. (1984). It if changes it must be a process: A study of emotion and coping during three stages of a college examination. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95, 107-113. Holahan, J.S. & Moos, R. (1987). The personnel and Contextual determinants of coping strategies. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 946-955. Ivancevich, J.M. and Matteson, M.T. (1980). Stress at Work: A Managerial Perspective. Scott, Foresman and Co., Glenview, II. Lazarus, R. & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress Appraisal and Coping, New York: Springer. Leka, S., Griffiths, A. & Cox, T (2004). Work Organization & Stress, Systematic Problem Approaches for Employers, Managers and Trade Union Representatives retrieved on 5 June 2009 from: http:// www.who.int/occupational_health/publications/pwh3rev.pdf Mcgrath, J.E. (1976). Stress and behaviour in organizations. Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Palo alto, C. A. Counseling psychological stress. Moose, R.A., & Billings, A.G. (1982). Conceptualising and Measuring Coping Resources and Processes. Theoretical and Clinical Aspects. New York: Free Press. Newton, T.J. & Keenen, A (1987): Role stress reexamined: An investigation of role stress predictors. Organizational behaviour and human decision processes, 40, 346-348. Quick, J.C. and Quick, J.D. (1984). Organizational Stress and Preventive Management, McGraw Hill, New York, NY. Rohany, N. (2003). Isu-isu Kaunseling dan Perkembangan Kerjaya. Kuala Lumpur: Utusan Publication and Distributors Sdn Bhd. Schuler (1982). An integrated transactional process model of stress in organizations. Journal of Occupational Behaviour, Vol. 3. Srivastava, A.K. & Singh, A.P. (1981). Manual of the Occupational stress Index, Department of Psychology, Banaras University, Varanasi.