Stress & Well-being at Work

Stress & Well-being
in the Workplace
Module from SIOP
A Basic Stress Process Model
• Stressors = stimuli that force us to adapt or
• Experienced stress = physiological and
psychological perception of “being stressed”
(e.g., faced with more demands than we think
we can handle)
• Strain = threat or damage to our psychological
and physical well-being
Why Relevant in the Workplace?
• Most people spend at least 1/3 of their lives at
• This makes the workplace a dominant source
of demands or stressors
• The workplace can also be a dominant source
of reward and other resources that support
our psychological well-being
• Unfortunately, chronic (recurring) exposure to
stressors within the job environment can be
really damaging over time
Stress & Well-being at Work
• Stress associated with work demands is a
major health issue that can negatively impact
the wellbeing of workers in any occupation.
• A good deal of research also shows that stress
caused by work can spillover or crossover and
have negative impacts at home (and vice
• Work stress has also been linked to
biological/physiological changes, attitudinal
changes, and detriment to overall
psychological well-being
Stress & Well-being
• As a field of study, stress and wellbeing is
tremendously broad and multidisciplinary.
– It cannot be fully understood from any single
perspective or orientation
• The best research and intervention efforts in
this area stem from collaborations between:
– Psychologists
– Public health professionals
– Industrial hygienists
– Occupational medicine professionals, etc.
Example Topics
Work stress research is tremendously varied,
with related topics including:
• Personality as a predictor of stress-reactivity
• Work environment features as causes of stress
• Work-to-family and family-to-work conflict
• Link between stress and cardiovascular
• Link between stress and workplace injuries
• Recovery processes associated with work
Class Discussion
• Have you ever worked in a job that was often
“stressful”? Why do you think it felt this way
so frequently?
• What would a very high stress or low stress
occupation look like to you?
• What strategies do you use currently to
manage the stress you feel related to your
work as a student? Do you think these same
strategies will work for you once you are in a
full-time job outside of school?
Further Reading & Resources
• Society for Occupational Health Psychology:
• Sonnentag, S., & Frese, M. (2003). Stress in
Organizations. In W. C. Borman & D. R. Ilgen
(Eds.), Handbook of psychology: Industrial and
organizational psychology (Vol. 12) (pp. 453-491).
New York: John Wiley & Sons.
• Viner, R. (1999). Putting Stress in Life: Hans Selye
and the Making of Stress Theory. Social Studies of
Science, 29(3), 391-410.