Friday, 22 March 2013

Transforming stress in complex work environments: Exploring the capabilities of middle managers in the public sector

an article by Jennifer Walinga and Wendy Rowe (Royal Roads University, Victoria, Canada) published in International Journal of Workplace Health Management Volume 6 Issue 1 (2013)


The purpose of this paper is to explore how to transform one’s perception of workplace stressors, moving beyond the idea of merely surviving or coping with stress to “thriving” within what is becoming a non-negotiable level of stress in the workplace.

The researchers generated a working definition of work stress thriving based on current literature, then conducted a content analysis of qualitative interviews to develop an empirically-grounded understanding of factors differentiating a stress transformation response from a coping response to workplace stressors.

The study revealed key characteristics of a stress transformation response to stress challenges in the work place: systemic cognitive appraisal, inclusive communication strategies, collaborative and sustainable problem solving, individual learning and growth, and organisational positive impacts.

Research limitations/implications
As a pilot study, limitations to the research include a relatively small sample size and only one type of work environment. More empirical work is needed to test the model, develop and validate measures of stress transformation.

Practical implications
Findings provide the foundation for further empirical research into stress transformation, and will potentially lead to the development of measures, training interventions, organisational structures, and work processes to enhance stress thriving within organisations.

Social implications
The findings provide preliminary insights into tools for both organisational leaders and employees to respond more sustainably to increasingly stressful, fast paced, and complex work environments.

The study provides an original conceptual perspective on the concept of stress management, calling for a paradigm shift that views stress as desirable and conducive to optimal performance.

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