Stress must not be perceived as a totally negative thing. It is not possible to say that stress has an entirely adverse effect on an individual. While excessive stress inevitably harms the individual, a medium level of stress may serve beneficial ends. Moreover, such stress is a requirement for growth success and the gain of new skills. At an appropriate level, it may even be a driving power, a factor that triggers success.
Individuals work in order to share, enhance, and eventually turn to money, their abilities, knowledge and experience. Success is the reflection of an individual’s effort on his work, the achievement of his goals. If there are insufficiencies along the way, situations such as a lack of knowledge, that would cause stress. However, beneath that lies the fear of failure. This may increase the working speed and motivation to a degree and positively affect the result. Here, a chain reaction is triggered. As the rate of success increases, so does motivation, and a rise in stress levels is also observed. When the individual gets used to success, stress levels fall, but the stress that is experienced in the event of any failure is greater than any before.
The work environment is always rife for stress. Asking too much or too little of an individual at a work place will cause stress. Too much heat, noise, light, or little responsibility, too much or too little work, excessive or insufficient supervision may cause stress. However, the manifestation of stress may show differences from individual to individual. The reaction of a person to stress factors is related to his/her personality, perceptions and past experience. For example, people in the same line of work cannot be expected to show the same reaction to a stressful condition. For someone with a high success drive, tensions about work may be a further incentive for success, whilst another may feel stressed due to a fear of incompetency to cope. In short, individual differences are important in the reaction to stress.
However, excessive stress may cause a loss of performance, and a physical and psychological retreat from work. The stress experienced at a work place is important both for the employees and for the managers. In other words, stress has outcomes for the individual and to the work place. Long term stress has adverse physical and psychological effects on the individual. As an outcome, the health of the employees and therefore the business is harmed. According to research, stress may cause absenteeism and eventual leaving the jobs. Stress observed in one worker adversely affects his associates, and productivity suffers thereof. Reducing stress levels will increase the contribution of the worker to the job, and increase the satisfaction of the workers. Factors that may cause stress in the work place may be related to the way the work is performed, or may arise from the structure of the establishment, environmental conditions or the characteristics of the individual him/herself. Especially, stress sources arising from some characteristics in the nature of the establishment permanently cause stress for the employees. Unless the root causes are identified, it will not be possible to control the stress effectively. As a result, they will turn into chronic stress sources.
Professor Bengi Semeci, M.D.