Stress & Well-being at Work - Society for Industrial and


Stress & Well-being in the Workplace

Module from SIOP

A Basic Stress Process Model





Stressors = stimuli that force us to adapt or change

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 work

• 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 versa)

• 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 disease

• Link between stress and workplace injuries

• Recovery processes associated with work stress

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. doi:10.1177/030631299029003003