Thursday, May 9, 2013

STRESS AND BURNOUT

The General Adaptation Syndrome has three key area's:
  1. Alarm - is the ‘fight-or-flight response’ that mobilizes the body and mind to defend against physical and psychological threat.
  2. Resistance 
  3. Exhaustion
Employees suffering negative stress related symptoms (Alarm/Resistance phases) generally demonstrate specific behaviors or patterns in lowered on the job performance - inattentiveness and carelessness are two prime examples.  As stress continues to build  and the cumulative effects get felt, an employee's ability to cope tends to get exhausted (Exhaustion phase - physical and mental shutdown) and they experience job burnout (a prolonged period of psychological withdrawal from work). Note however that positive stress (eustress in contrast to distress) exists also and while eustress can lead to increase effort and performance (challenges to the employee) ... too much of this too can eventually lead to exhaustion.

Environmental stress factors originate from economic, political or technological uncertainty and induce alarm reaction and cause the employee’s performance to decline.  Organisational stress factors increase in number and intensity in firms that are contemplating downsizing or outsourcing to revitalise a flagging business model (deteriorating competitive advantage).

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Type A personalities are generally considered very competitive and action oriented.  They show little patience and in extreme circumstances can become hostile.  Certain Type A's exhibit Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED) where their reactions are completely out of context to the situation.  Type B's by contrast are more "normal" and generally better able to handle stress and stressful situations.
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