Harnessing Job Stress to Build Personal Resilience

Resilience means the ability to adapt to adversity. Within the workplace, resilience is beneficial in helping people adapt as organizations go through major changes, such as restructuring, adopting new technology, and mergers/acquisitions. On the day-to-day level, resilience also helps employees manage stress that comes from tight deadlines and changing expectations. Although avoiding stress may seem like a good strategy, resilience is not built by a lack of adversity, but by overcoming adversity. New research (Crane & Searle, 2016) investigates how certain types of workplace stressors make employees more resilient and less likely to experience psychological strain. […]

Stress in the Workplace Can Affect Our Social Networks

Stress in the workplace is a common problem. Just think of the many things in a modern workplace that can cause stress: Bad bosses, unpleasant coworkers, threats of downsizing, overflowing inboxes, working long hours, someone taking the last cup of coffee from the coffee maker… I’m getting stressed out just thinking about it. And while there has been a lot of organizational research on the causes and effects of stress, little is known about how stress in the workplace changes the way that we interact with others. New research (Kalish, Luria, Toker, Westman, 2015) provides insight into how stress affects whom we choose to communicate with.


How is Personality Linked to Charismatic Leadership in Different Work Conditions?

When we think of charismatic leadership, we see someone who is energetic, inspiring, and likeable. Maybe famous CEOs like Jack Welch and politicians like Barack Obama come to mind. Charismatic leaders can be powerful agents of change by getting others on board to achieve their vision. In fact, research has shown that charismatic leaders tend to have more satisfied followers and better company performance.


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How to Survive Toxic Work Relationships by Thriving

How can we possibly survive toxic work relationships? After all, the workplace is replete with human interaction and relationships: employees actively communicate with coworkers and supervisors in both one-on-one and team settings to complete tasks and projects. However, not all workplace relationships are positive; some are downright de-energizing. A relationship is characterized as de-energizing when it is both negative and draining, and this type of relationship can have serious implications for employees.



Treadmill Desks: Good for Employers and Employees

Treadmill desks are just what they sound like: workstations that are built so that employees can walk on a treadmill while working. If the employees have been getting lazy, the boss can turn up the setting to “warpspeed.” Okay, just kidding about the last part. Still, treadmill desks and their distant cousin, cycling desks, are both part of a new trend that might help workers who are typically sedentary. The logic is that using these “active workstations” will allow employees to engage in more physical activity over the course of a day. Due to the modern epidemic of obesity, and its associated costs to employers in terms of healthcare and missed-work due to illness, active workstations might allow those with desk jobs to stay more physically fit.

While past research has shown that people who use active workstations do engage in more physical activity over the course of a day, how else can they affect employees? New research (Sliter & Yuan, 2015) investigates the effects of active workstations on factors such as productivity and stress.



Email Overload and the Harmful Effects of Telepressure

Email overload is something most of us have probably experienced. Too much email can be problematic because we might spend too much time responding to email instead of doing actual work. But researchers have found another problem with technology like email. We feel a tremendous amount of pressure to respond quickly, even when the message may not need a quick response. This pressure can be harmful to employees in many different ways, and undermine the very advantages that email was supposed to provide.


Overflowing Stress: How Personal Stress Leads to Stress on the Job

Overflowing Stress: How Personal Stress Leads to Stress on the Job

Stressful events that occur outside of the workplace can negatively affect work outcomes such as employee stress, job commitment, and turnover intentions. This phenomenon is called negative spillover, because employees are not always able to “check” their personal stress and worries “at the door” when switching from their home environment to their work environment.

Most research has focused on the spillover between an employee’s family role and work role. However, employees can also be affected by non-family experiences that occur in their personal lives outside of work (e.g., housing crises, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, etc.). Examples of negative spillover include being irritable, distracted, or tired at work because of problems at home. These personal experiences can result in work outcomes that negatively impact both employees and organizations.


How Leadership Styles and Fairness Can Help Increase Job Performance

Stress is an inevitable part of working life within any organization. Every employee encounters different types of stressful situations, which ultimately shape our attitudes towards, and perceptions of, the organization we work for. The authors of “It’s Not Fair….Or Is It? The Role Of Justice And Leadership In Explaining Work Stressor-Job Performance Relationships” proposed that people encounter two types of stress in the workplace, which includes challenge stressors and hindrance stressors.


Working Abroad- How to Help Employees Weather the Storm

More and more organizations these days are sending employees on international assignments. This can have many benefits for these organizations, and can be exciting for the individual.

But not everyone proves successful in integrating into foreign cultures, which affects their work and can ultimately lead to major losses for organizations.


Can your personality affect how well you adapt to changes in the workplace?

The business world is always evolving, from technology to everyday work requirements. So being able to adapt to changes in the workplace quickly is incredibly valuable for employers.

Evolutionary theory has put forward certain personality traits as better predictors of effective adaptation in various areas of our lives. But the difficulty in evolving within the organizational environment lies in the fact that adaptation in a work setting isn’t about adjusting to a stable environment, but to one that is constantly changing.


How Service Employees React to Mistreatment by Rude Customers

Dealing with rude customers is a universal truth to working in service positions. We’ve all been there, standing awkwardly in the checkout lane as a red-faced customer furiously berates an employee for some perceived injustice or inconvenience. Intriguingly, how employees react to this rude behavior might be influenced by cultural values.


Emotional Labor: The True Cost of Service with a Smile

Talk about demanding work! In addition to their typical job duties, like waiting on tables, making sales, or assisting customers, customer service professionals must also perform emotional labor. When employees smile cheerfully at the end of a grueling shift, they are performing something called surface acting, which is a type of emotional labor. Research has shown that emotional labor can lead to psychological strain and fatigue. The current study (Beal, Trougakos, Weiss, & Dalal, 2013) has made advancements in this area of research by scrutinizing a new variable, called “affect spin”.


Shame on you!

Bohns and Flynn assert that guilt, as compared to shame, is a more adaptive affective reaction to setbacks in the workplace.  In response to a setback or failure, an employee, among other things, can feel shame or can feel guilt.  With shame, the person may continue to feel humiliated and take no practical steps to[…]

Burned Out? It Might Be Time to Look at Your Goals (IO Psychology)

Topic: Burnout, Stress, Goals
Publication: Journal of Applied Social Psychology
Article: The 2×2 model of goal orientation and burnout: The role of approach-avoidance dimensions in predicting burnout
Authors: Naidoo, L. J., DeCriscio, A., Bily, H., Manipella, A., Ryan, M., & Youdim, J.
Reviewer: Neil Morelli

There have been times when we’ve all felt a little burned out from work. When we feel burned out the usual suspects are situational factors like the job, occupation, organizational characteristics, leadership, and individual differences. But there is one variable that has typically been ignored in the literature—our motivational dispositions, or in other words, our goals.


Relax! You just had vacation! (IO Psychology)

Topic: Stress, Wellness
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (JUL 2012)
Article: Academics’ Experiences of a Respite From Work: Effects of Self-Critical Perfectionism and Perseverative Cognition on Postrespite Well-Being
Authors: Paul E. Flaxman, Julie Menard, Frank W. Bond, and Gail Kinman
Reviewed By: Isaac Sabat

For once, researchers and employees agree—it is absolutely necessary to take a vacation. If employees are not given breaks from work, they experience physical and mental fatigue, which puts them at risk for a variety of other more serious health problems. Vacations offer many important benefits to employees, such as the ability to recharge their batteries and increase their happiness. These effects have also been found to carry over into the subsequent work-weeks following vacations.

However, it has recently been found that not everybody is able to reap these same lingering benefits that vacations have to offer!


That It’s OK to Be Me: Authentic Leadership Drives Performance in Stressful Conditions (IO Psychology)

Topics: Leadership, Stress
Publication: The Leadership Quarterly (JUN 2012)
Article: The relationship between authentic leadership and follower job performance: The mediating role of follower positivity in extreme contexts.
Authors: Suzanne J. Peterson, Fred O. Walumbwa, Bruce J. Avolio, & Sean T. Hannah
Reviewed By: Aaron Manier

In stressful working environments, it’s good to know that your boss is a real, caring, genuine person who’s got your back in the toughest of situations. Not only does it seem like a good idea generally, but research is beginning to support the notion that authentic leaders, or leaders who are self-aware, moral, open, and objective, not only increase perceived support among followers, but drive higher performance in extreme and stressful working conditions.


Are you being treated badly by coworkers? It might just be affecting your home life (IO Psychology)

Topic: Counter-Productive Work Behavior, Work-Life Balance, Stress
Publication: Journal of Organizational Behavior (MAY 2012)
Article: You cannot leave it at the office: Spillover and crossover of coworker incivility
Authors: M. Ferguson
Reviewed by: Alexandra Rechlin

Do you have a coworker who is rude to you? Ignores you? Is condescending to you? If so, that’s called coworker incivility and it is probably not only affecting your satisfaction with and performance at work, but also your home life.

In a recent study, Meredith Ferguson investigated if and how coworker incivility affects the marital satisfaction of both the target of workplace incivility and the target’s partner. She was also interested in the role that stress might play in the spillover effects from coworker incivility.


When It Comes to Employee Health, More than an ‘Apple a Day’ is Needed (IO Psychology)

 Topic: Health & Safety, Organizational Justice, Fairness, Burnout, Stress
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (2012)
Article: Perceived Unfairness and Employee Health: A Meta-Analytic Integration
Authors: Robbins, Jordan M.; Ford, Michael T.; Tetrick, Lois E.
Reviewed By: Lauren A. Wood, M.S.

Practitioners and employers alike have expressed concern around the effects of poor employee heath. When employees are not well, the organization can not only incurs costs due to direct medical expenses, but can also pay for poor employee health in the form of absenteeism, decreased productivity and moral, and even turnover.


A Bad Boss Can Ruin Your Marriage

Topic: Conflict, Stress, Work-Life Balance, Workplace Deviance
Publication: Personnel Psychology
Article: The Fallout from Abusive Supervision: An Examination of Subordinates and Their Partners
Authors: Carson, D. S., Ferguson, M., Perrewé, P. L., & Whitten, D.
Reviewed By: Katie Bachman

Maybe this can be filed in the “Well, Duh” folder, but new research has shown that bad bosses can mess up your relationships at home. “What?,” you say, “stress from work means that I’m not my best at home?!” Yeah. If you are one of the unfortunate people to have an emotionally abusive supervisor (one that gets mad at you for no reason, belittles you in front of people, etc.), you can end up taking that stress home with you in the form of work-family conflict. To make matters worse, that conflict that you’re experiencing affects your spouse or significant other and makes them tense. Then, the snowball gets a little speed from your partner’s tension by affecting important family outcomes (like staying together). Bottom line: an abusive supervisor isn’t just a pain at work for you – you end up taking that negativity home with you, which hurts your family.


A Remedy for the “5 O’Clock Feeling”

Topic: Stress
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (MAY 2011)
Article: The Effect of Positive Events at Work on After-Work Fatigue: They Matter Most in Face of Adversity
Authors: Gross, S., Semmer, N., Meier, L., Ka’lin, W., Jacobshagen, N., Tschan, F.
Reviewed By: Chelsea Rowe

No matter how rewarding or exhilarating the job, by the end of a workday, it’s not unusual to find oneself feeling a little spent. The more negative events that pop-up throughout the course of the day, the more exhausted we find ourselves as 5 o’clock approaches.


The Stress of Success: The Value of Time and Time Pressure

Topic: Stress, Human Resource Management
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology
Article: Time is Tight: How Higher Economic Value of Time Increases Feelings of Time Pressure
Authors: DeVoe, S.E., & Pfeffer, J.
Reviewer: Neil Morelli

Do you feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day Like you’re always pressed for time? Well, you’re not alone. DeVoe and Pfeffer recently studied how the perception of time’s value can impact perceptions of time pressure-related work stress. They noted that it’s not just the number of hours or how we react to time pressure, but the economic value of our time that matters.


Getting Emotional at Work

Topic: Stress, Change Management
Publication: Journal of Organizational Behavior (MAY 2011)
Article: Stability, change, and the stability of change in daily workplace affect
Authors: Beal, D. J., Ghandour, L.
Reviewed by: Larry Martinez

Have you ever noticed how some people are just more emotionally volatile than others?  A coworker that comes to work happy as a clam one day and down in the dumps the next?  Researchers call this affect spin, which refers to an individual characteristic that reflects the extent to which people experience more than one emotion over time.  For example, in the picture above, each point represents one’s levels of positive and negative affect of any particular day (so four days in total).  So, since the points fall all on different parts of the circumplex, the figure represents someone with high affect spin, or several varying emotions on different days.  Beal and Ghandour (2001) examined this concept with positive and negative emotions and task motivation in the midst of a major natural disaster: Hurricane Ike.


Dysfunctional employees? It could be attachment issues.

Topic: Stress, Turnover, Citizenship Behavior
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology
Article: Attachment at (Not to) Work: Applying Attachment Theory to Explain Individual Behavior in Organizations
Authors: D. A. Richards A.C.H. Schat
Reviewed By: Neil Morelli

People seem to inherently know that a job isn’t just about where you work, but also who you work with. Recent research has helped validate this feeling by studying how our behavior at work is partly determined by how attached, or unattached, we become to the people we work with. Specifically, attachment theory states that people are naturally motivated to associate with others in tough times, and the quantity and quality of this attachment is largely dependent on early life experiences.  For example, those who are “securely attached” tend to exhibit strong self worth and a trust of others.  At work, these attachment types help explain how we behave when presented with a challenging task or stressful moment.


Creativity at Work…Through Increased Workplace Structure?

Topic: Creativity, Strategic HR, Stress
Publication: Human Resource Management (NOV/DEC 2010)
Article: Does Structuring of Human Resource Management Process Enhance Employee Creativity? The Mediating Role of Psychological Availability
Authors: G. Binyamin, A. Carmeli
Reviewed By: Lauren A. Wood

The environment of the modern workplace is increasingly becoming more dynamic and unstable leading employees to perceive high levels of work-related stress. To battle this increased uncertainty in the external environment and provide a sense of stability to employees, organizations are looking internally at the way human resources processes are designed. Structuring of HRM processes consists of 7 essential dimensions: strategic alignment with organizational goals, managerial engagement, employee job functions structured and evaluated based on a job analysis, clarity of HRM policies and evaluation criteria, planning, flexibility, and internal consistency or synergy of all processes. Structuring HR around these 7 dimensions was shown to help alleviate employee stress perceptions by decreasing feelings of uncertainty.  


Role stressors and organizational citizenship behavior: Don’t stress those workers out

Topic: Citizenship Behavior, Stress
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (JAN 2011)
Article: Relationships of role stressors with organizational citizenship behavior: A meta-analysis
Authors: Erin Eatough, Chu-Hsiang Chang, Stephanie Miloslavic, and Russell Johnson
Reviewed By: Bobby Bullock

Job performance is not only evaluated by looking at an employee’s formal tasks but also through extra-role behaviors like organizational citizenship behavior (OCB, or behavior that goes beyond job requirements to support and benefit the workplace).  However, while researchers have looked at a myriad of predictors of formal performance, much less attention has been awarded to predictors of OCB.  To address this, Eatough, Chang, Miloslavic, and Johnson (2011) conducted a meta-analysis to determine the effects of occupational role stressors on OCB.


Relax! Weekend Recovery Does a Career Good!

Topic: Work-Life Balance, Stress
Publication: Journal of Organizational Behavior (NOV 2010)
Article:The weekend matters: Relationships between stress recovery and affective experiences
Authors: Fritz, C., Sonnentag, S., Spector, P. E., & McInroe, J.
Reviewed by: Charleen Maher

Admit it. We all look forward to the weekend after a long week at work. Here’s another reason to look forward to it: Research finds that it’s important to emotionally recover from stressful work demands.

A recent study by Binnewies et al. (click here for the IOATWORK review) found that mentally detaching oneself from work, relaxing, and engaging in non job-related tasks during the weekend helps employees feel recovered during the following work week.


If You Want to Prevent Exhaustion … Don’t Worry, Be Happy!

Topic:  Stress, Burnout, Performance, Fairness, Compensation
Publication: Journal of Organizational Behavior
Article: Emotional exhaustion and job performance: The moderating role of distributive justice and positive affect (AUG 2010)
Author: O. Janssen, C. K. Lam, & X. Huang
Reviewed by: Sarah Teague

Sometimes work is just exhausting; emotionally exhausting to be specific. Emotional exhaustion (EE) refers to feeling overwhelmed or drained at work. Not surprisingly, recent research has linked EE to decrements in performance through the Conservation of Resources (COR) theory. COR theory suggests that EE impairs performance because employees feel that they do not have the adequate resources to meet the current job demands, but is this always the case? When an employee begins to feel depleted, do they automatically attribute it to lack of personal resources? The authors of the current article suggest not.


When Mental Detachment from Work is a Must

Topic: Stress, Wellness, Work-Life Balance
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (AUG 2010)
Article: Staying well and engaged when demands are high: The role of psychological detachment
Authors: S. Sonnentag, C. Binnewies, and E.J. Mojza
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger

When we’re faced with high job demands at work, stress and emotional burnout often lurk right around the corner.  Regardless of the potentially harmful effects of high job demands, they’re a reality for many of us.  But before we  throw up our  hands in surrender when work piles up,  there are buffers against the dreaded consequences of excessive job demands.  One such buffer is known as psychological detachment, which is a fancy term for “leaving work at work” and devoting mental resources to non-work-related things while not on the clock. 


Service with a Smile? But I’m Exhausted!

Topic: Work EnvironmentBurnout
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (March, 2010)
Article: Contextualizing emotional exhaustion and positive emotional display: The signaling effect of supervisors’ emotional exhaustion and service climate.
Authors: C.K. Lam, X. Huang, & O. Janssen
Reviewed By: Allison Gabriel

Employees are frequently encouraged to engage in pleasant behavior while suppressing negative emotions, despite how they actually feel. But, what happens when employees are too emotionally exhausted to go on?


Heavy Workloads: Much More Than Just a Nuisance

Topic: Stress, Wellness, Work Environment
Publication: Personnel Psychology (Summer 2010)
Article: Psychological and physiological reactions to high workloads: Implications for well-being
Authors: R. Ilies, N. Dimotakis, and I.E. De Pater
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger

In a rather unique study by Ilies, Dimotakis and De Pater (2010), the authors found that heavy workloads can have negative psychological (distress) and physiological (blood pressure) effects that fluctuate depending on an employee’s daily workload.  The authors also investigated how daily changes in workload affect employees’ daily well-being when they get home from work.


The Overwhelming Effect of Job Demands on Spillover

Topic: Stress,Work-Life Balance
Publication:Journal of Vocational Behavior (JUN 2010)
Article: The costs of today’s jobs: Job characteristics and organizational supports as antecedents of negative spillover
Authors:A.R. Grotto and K.S. Lyness
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger

Negative work-to-nonwork spillover occurs when employees’ negative moods, behaviors, etc. from workspill over into other parts of their lives (e.g., family life).  Grotto and Lyness (2010) recently investigated several factors that lead employees to experience negative spillover, including job demands and the availability of organizational support.


The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Stress at Work

Topic: Citizenship Behavior, Counterproductive Work Behaviors
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (NOV 2009)
ArticleCan “good” stressors spark “bad” behaviors? The mediating role of emotions in links of challenge and hindrance stressors with citizenship and counter productive behaviors
Authors: J.B. Rodell, T.A. Judge
Reviewed By: Katie Bachman

Research suggests that stress can come from good or bad sources (Cavanaugh, Boswell, Roehling, & Boudreau, 2000).


Stressed at Work? Here’s a Drink on Me!

Topic: Stress
Publication: Personnel Psychology (AUTUMN 2009)
Article: Daily work stress and alcohol use: Testing the cross-level moderation effects of neuroticism and job involvement
Authors: S. Liu, M. Wang, Y. Zhan, and J. Shi
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger

Many employees (perhaps as many as 92.5 million in the U.S. alone) use alcohol to cope with daily work stress. Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with having an adult beverage after a long day of work, but research suggests that employees who use alcohol tend to have more health and work-related problems than those who do not.


The Researcher’s Advantage to Chilled-Out Survey Participants

Topic: StressWellness
Publication: Journal of Organizational and Occupational Psychology
Article: Too stressed out to participate Examining the relation between stressors and survey response behavior.
Blogger: LitDigger

If you’re in the kind of work I’m in, your projects thrive off of survey response rates. Yes, that is only one element to a successful organizational study, BUT CLEARLY response rates are a big deal to research! You probably have read some articles on how to boost your survey response rate (e.g., is handing out free candy or instilling guilt ACTUALLY effective to your cause?), but a recent article by Barr, Spitzmüller, and Stuebing (2008) takes a new perspective.


Don’t Stress About the Job Search…Oh Wait, Maybe You Should!

Topic: Staffing, Stress
Publication: International Journal of Selection and Assessment
Article: The joint role of locus of control and perceived financial need in job search.
Blogger: Benjamin Granger

Not surprisingly, one of the most important predictors of finding employment is the intensity with which one searches for a job (Remember mom saying, “Get off the couch and go look for a job!”?).  In response to this finding, organizational researchers are investigating predictors of job-search intensity and one of these predictors is job search locus of control. Job search locus of control refers to the degree of control an individual thinks he/she has over his/her job search behaviors and outcomes.


Doing what Simon Says Regarding Safety

Topic: Stress, Wellness, Work Environments
Publication: Journal of Business Ethics
Article: Ethical climates and workplace safety behaviors: an empirical investigation.
Blogger: LitDigger

How do you know that you won’t trip on the telephone cord your coworker has stretched across the entryway of your cubicle?  You don’t (until the inevitable happens).  How do you know whether or not workplace safety behaviors are actually practiced in your organization?  A study by Parboteeah and Kapp (2008) says that the company’s ethical climate may provide some clues.


Rest, Relax and Be Merry…At Work!

Topic: Stress, Work-Life Balance
Publication: Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology
Article: Staying vigorous until work is over: The role of trait vigor, day-specific work experiences and recovery.
Blogger: Benjamin Granger

After a long hard day of work, many of us get back home only to do more work!  After all that, how many of us feel energized and vigorous and ready for another day of work?  (Depressing, isn’t it?)

Since all of us have numerous roles in life (e.g., employees, family members, etc.), the question above is a particularly important one.  After a long day of work, are we physically, emotionally and cognitively energized (vigorous) to tackle work and family issues?  For individuals who have to balance work and family roles, vigor can play a significant part in how well we perform in those roles.


Office Decorations…Keeping Males Calm?

Topic: Job Attitudes, Stress, Work Environment

Publication: Environment & Behavior

Article:  Anger and Stress: The Role of Landscape Posters in an Office Setting

Blogger: LitDigger

Is there more to aesthetic beauty than, well, aesthetics?  Office employees may think they’re enjoying art for art’s sake, but the benefits of art may be more complex than that.  A study by Kweon, Ulrich, Walker, and Tassinary (2008) found that state anger and stress can be significantly reduced by the type of posters hanging in your office (or, for we more lowly servants, our cubicles).  But there’s a catch here: differences in anger and stress were only significant for males (Sorry, ladies. Keep investing in those yoga classes).


How Do You Say “Stress” in Mandarin?

Topic: Stress
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology
Article: Theories of job stress and the role of traditional values:  A longitudinal study in China.
Blogger: Larry Martinez

Here’s an ultra-brief but necessary synopsis of stress theory:  difficult, restrictive jobs create stress, and stress is bad for your health.  Researchers suggest mediating the negative effects of stress by creating jobs that are less demanding and allowing employees to have more control over their environments at work.