Nearly 30% of Europeans and 40% of Americans report working in jobs that are very stressful. “Stress permeates organizations and, when uncontrolled, may result in negative health and performance consequences,” said Michael R. Smith of the Department of Psychology at Southern Illinois University, and lead author of a new study examining which factors mediate stress in service related jobs. “Increased levels of stress have been linked to a compromised immune system, reduced cardiovascular functioning, high blood pressure, disturbed hormone excretion, and increased risk of accidents. Similarly, stress also has a signiﬁcant, negative relationship with job satisfaction and organizational commitment, while sharing a significant, positive relationship with counterproductive work behaviors, withdrawal behaviors, turnover intentions, and depression.”
Two factors that were of particular interest to Smith were emotional energy (EE) and customer service orientation (CSO). Smith looked at how these factors impacted job stress for both front of house (FOH: servers, hosts, wait staff) and back of house (BOH: kitchen personnel) restaurant employees. He found that FOH employees were better protected from stress than BOH due to EE, but not CSO. The FOH employees, who usually worked fewer hours and had resources and support outside of the workplace, did not rely on the customer interaction to mitigate stress, but rather their stress was reduced as a result of the autonomy, mastery and effective emotional regulation. “Although we did not ﬁnd support for a moderating effect of CSO on the stress–performance relationship for FOH workers, we did ﬁnd that CSO potentially mediated the stress–performance relationship,” said Smith. “This study found that when stress in the workplace is minimized, this is likely to facilitate greater levels of CSO, and thereby greater performance among FOH workers.” Smith added, “Helping employees develop meaningful interpersonal relationships with leaders, coworkers, and customers can be an alternative method to reduce the negative effects of work-related stress on performance. Cultivating a shared sense of interpersonal connectedness among workers may be a lower-cost method to improve employee trust, cooperation, positive affect, and performance.”
Smith, M. R., Rasmussen, J. L., Mills, M. J., Wefald, A. J., & Downey, R. G. (2011, November 28). Stress and Performance: Do Service Orientation and Emotional Energy Moderate the Relationship?. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0026064
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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