chapter  17
20 Pages

Calibrating Productiity in the Workplace: Assessing Stress Judiciously

ByAnn M. O’Roark

Burnout, overload, recurring traumatic experiences, and insufficient “spice of life” (Selye, 1974) are stressor conditions known to detract from employee morale and workplace productivity (Spielberger & Vagg, 1999). However, in the explosion of professional and popular literature addressing occupational stress, little is said about the importance of striving for optimal-stressor conditions in the workplace. Consulting psychologists who advise organizational leaders are frequently expected to identify factors that generate excessive job stress and reduce employee productivity. A judicious response to this corporate expectation is to agree with the observations of executive realists who conclude that some stress is normal and can be beneficial to productivity. Using a calibration consultation (CC) approach, those stressors that are excessive and likely to inhibit productivity can be identified, and in follow-up discussions,

action interventions likely to reduce effects of stress overloads and professional burnout can be selected and implemented. In addition, employees need stimulation and challenges to make work interesting, to be productive, and to spark entrepreneurial initiative (Bass, 1997). In most occupations, high performers also need to be free from hassles and trauma while working (Spielberger, Westberry, Grier, & Greenfield, 1981).