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PSY367 2

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Transcript of PSY367 2

Work Stress Seminar 2
Explain the meaning of interaction episode.
At work, people interact with their role set
i.e., a set of people, such as immediate supervisor, immediate subordinates, clients and suppliers, that a person interacts with frequently
Role sender
= Person who communicates information about a role behaviour expected to a focal person, and who perceives the behaviour and responds with reinforcement or sanctions
Define “role sender” and “focal person”.
(Source: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0361368200000027)
Explain the four types of role conflict.
Key point:
The focal person experiences role conflict when he/she receives
contradictory information
about his/her role. There are four types of role conflict:
Intra-sender role conflict
Intra-sender role conflict
occurs when one role sender communicates conflicting messages to the focal person,
e.g., when a boss wishes his subordinates to do exactly as he tells them and then criticises them for lacking initiative.
Provide examples of your own experience:
Intra-sender role conflict
Inter-sender role conflict
occurs when two or more role senders send contradictory messages to the focal person,
e.g., in a matrix structure where a person reports to two bosses, the Human Resource Manager may get caught between the conflicting demands of
1) the Global HR Director who wants performance bonus payouts to be consistent worldwide, and
(2) the Country General Manager who wants to have performance bonus payouts to be consistent with local country practices in Singapore.

Intra-sender role conflict
Inter-role conflict
occurs when a person’s different roles clash.
Everyone plays multiple life roles.
e.g., A woman might be wife, mother, employee and daughter.
e.g., A man might be CEO, husband, father and son.
Sometimes, when trying to fulfil the demands of one role, we might neglect the demands of another role.
The modern day employee may find it hard to fulfil his responsibilities in educating his children because his professional roles take up so much of his time.
Provide examples of your own experience:

Person role conflict

Person-role conflict
occurs when role expectations conflict with a person’s values.
Someone who believes in participative decision-making may feel stressed when his boss requires him to manage staff in a more dictatorial manner.
Provide examples of your own experience:

Explain the two types of role ambiguity
Key point:
The focal person experiences role ambiguity when role demands are ambiguous or unknown
Task ambiguity
Task ambiguity
occurs when there is not enough information (or the information is confusing) about how a person should carry out the tasks required by his role.
E.g., students feel stressed when they do not know what the seminar leader expects of them in their graded assignments.
Provide examples of your own experience:

Socio-emotional ambiguity
Socio-emotional ambiguity
occurs when a person is unsure how the people in his social circle will react to him for what he has done.
E.g., seminar leaders who structure extra discussion exercises on the BlackBoard’s discussion forum may feel stressed not knowing how students may react to such an initiative.
Some students may complain that there is too much work whilst others may welcome the additional practice.
Provide examples of your own experience:
Explain the two types of role overload.
Key point:
• Role overload occurs when a person

cannot meet

all the role expectations from his role set.
• This often results from a combination of intersender role conflict and person-role conflict

Quantitative overload
Quantitative overload occurs when people say that they have too much or too many things to do in the given time.
Provide examples of your own experience:
Qualitative overload
Qualitative overload occurs when people believe they lack the ability or the skills to competently meet the role expectations.
Provide examples of your own experience:

Discuss the difference between work-to-family conflict and family-to-work conflict.
Work-to-family conflict
conflict occurs when work responsibilities reduce one’s ability to fulfill family responsibilities.
E.g., a mother misses her son’s concert performance in order to take part in a conference call after office hours; or
E.g., a father needs to prepare for an early morning meeting the next day, and cannot coach his son in mathematics after dinner.
Provide examples of your own experience:

Family-to-work conflict
Family-to-work conflict
occurs when family responsibilities reduce one’s ability to fulfill work responsibilities.
Modern communication technology ensures that the workplace is only one internet connection or phone call away.
E.g., Telecommuting work arrangements allow people to work at home.
Since the telecommuter is physically at home during working hours, family members such as babies and toddlers may make demands that interfere with the telecommuter’s ability to focus on his/her work responsibilities.
Provide examples of your own experience:

Evaluate the respective validity of the independence model of work-family conflict and the spillover model of work-family conflict.
The independence model of work-family conflict holds that the two domains are mutually independent.
The work domain is associated with
masculine attributes

(e.g., competition and hard-driving).
The family domain is associated with
feminine attributes
(e.g., relationships and intimacy).

The spillover model of work-family conflict holds that the influences of work on family and family on work are inseparable.
This model has received more support in research than the independence model.
Research has found that people
do not leave work stress in the office.
Figure 2.1.1 below illustrates the findings from a study by Bakker, Demerouti, and Dollard (2008). Bakker et al. (2008) reported that men in particular bring their stress home to their wives, who in turn develop emotional exhaustion.
Reflection: From the diagram provided, list the stresses that men bring back to their wives. How does this relate to your own family?
However, spillover
is not always negative.
Spillover can be positive too because research has also found that
the traditionally feminine qualities such as “nurturing” which a new mother or father learns when he/she becomes a parent, spills over positively into one’s role as a nurturing manager (Rothbard, 2001).
Explain the integration-segmentation continuum of work-family boundary management.
• The work-family integration-segmentation model holds that
people manage the boundary between their work and life along a continuum of strategies with
work-life integration at one end of the continuum and
work-life segmentation on the other end of the continuum.
Work-life integrators
like job arrangements such as telecommuting so as to be able to multi-task simultaneously across life roles.
E.g., a salesperson may prefer to write her sales proposal at home so that she can multi-task by also supervising her son’s homework and making sure the roast chicken in the oven is not burnt.
Work-life integrators maintain a low contrast in their role identities and permeable role boundaries.
Work-life segmentators
prefer traditional work arrangements where all work is done in the office and he/she can focus on the children when at home.
Work-life segmentators maintain a high contrast in role identities and impermeable role boundaries.

See Figure 2.1.2 below.
Figure 2.1.2:
Work-Life Role Segmentation versus
Work-Life Role Integration
(Ashforth, Kreiner, & Fugate, 2000)
Stress occurs when people are made to accept work preferences that
go against
their preferences to integrate or to segment (Rothbard, Phillips, & Dumas, 2005).
Discuss why computerisation and automation cause stress.
Initiatives to computerise and automate the workplace threaten to take away the jobs of many workers.
Workers are stressed because they
fear job loss.
Conservation of resources theory explains that people who experience threat of resource loss also become stressed.
Those who do not lose their jobs feel stressed because they can no longer do their jobs in the best way they know how, and therefore risk a
loss of self-esteem.
They may not feel competent at doing their jobs the automated way.
Self-esteem is considered a resource by COR theorists.
Reflection: Does this issue affect you in some way too?

Discuss why electronic performance monitoring causes stress.
Computer networks now allow management to monitor in every detail the work quantity and quality of workers.
This creates stress in three ways:
workers who are being monitored are
discouraged from socialising
at work, thereby depriving themselves of the social support important for helping them reduce stress;
workers feel that they
lose control
of how they want to do their jobs; and
in order to quantify work for monitoring purposes, jobs are redesigned to be simpler, and such
job simplification
can lead to boredom.
Reflection: Do you also experience the same or similar issues?

Discuss why organisational change and transition cause stress.
Socio-Emotional Ambiguity:
The anticipation of change and change itself is stressful because it creates
uncertainty and disruption.
In cases where change is a result of company mergers, people may not know what is expected of them in the new company culture.
Person-Role Conflict:
Task Ambiguity:
Other possible reasons or points?
Discuss why downsizing and job loss cause stress.
This is stressful for two groups of employees.
Those who lose their jobs experience
actual resource losses
, i.e., loss in salary, in socio-economic status, etc.
Those who survive the downsizing and keep their jobs are also stressed because they see what has happened to their friends and fear that they
may be the next ones to lose their jobs.
In addition, they may feel a
sense of injustice
on behalf of their friends, especially if the downsizing process has been mismanaged and issues of fairness and justice have not been properly addressed.
Reflection: Have you experienced or know of people who experienced downsizing in your (their) company? What was it like? Discuss.

Use existing theoretical frameworks to explain real-life stress phenomena
Using your own personal experiences at the workplace, identify and discuss the types of stressors at your workplace:
Demands-Control Theory:
What are your experiences at the workplace? Where do your challenges fit into the model above? Discuss.
Role Episode Theory
Provide some examples of your own personal experiences at the workplace:

Task ambiguity
: Occurs when there is not enough information (or the information is confusing) about how a person should carry out the tasks required by his role
Socio-Emotional Ambiguity:
Occurs when a person is unsure how the people in his social circle will react to him for what he has done.
Person-Role Conflict:
Person-role conflict
= role expectations conflict with person’s values
Inter-role conflict
= Person’s different roles clash
Inter-sender role conflict
= 2 or more senders send contradictory messages to focal person
Intra-sender role conflict
= Role sender communicating conflicting messages to focal person
Conservation of Resources Theory
are material possessions such as money, food and housing.
are resources such as time, money, knowledge and energy that are important in the acquisition of other kinds of resources.

refer to desirable states such as happily married, comfortably retired and workplace seniority.
Personal characteristics
describe a person and are, e.g., self-esteem, level of education, quantity of experience and career orientation.
Read and summarize:
Rothbard, N. P., Phillips, K. W., & Dumas, T. L. (2005). Managing multiple roles: Work-family policies and individuals' desires for segmentation. Organisation Science, 16, 243-258.
Past Exam Questions
Explain Role Episode Theory and use it to generate three explanations why having two bosses can be stressful. (July 2011)
Define any four of the eight key constructs of Role Episode Theory and propose one real-world example (July 2012)
Use the Role Episode Model to explain why women feel stressed when children’s exams approach. (Jan 2010)
Every interaction episode communicates information from a role sender (e.g., boss) to the focal person (e.g., staff).
Each interaction episode holds information concerning role expectations (i.e., what one is expected to behave)
Each interaction with a person in this role set is an
interaction episode.
Focal person
= Person who receives role behaivour as defined by a role sender. Enacts the behaviour according to the focal person’s perception of it.
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