Emotional Job Demands: The Exhaustive Effect on Technology Workers

The technology sector has grown exponentially in recent decades. Silicon Valley used to be the base for most technology companies. But the advent of the internet and the rampant use of social media have broadened that spectrum to include any location with Wi-Fi and a computer device. Individuals who work in the technology field face many job stressors, including traditional job demands. However, they also face emotional job demands that arise from competition, production, and other aspects related to the field. When resources exist to address these demands, individuals should be able to avoid job-related emotional exhaustion, or so one would think. However, according to a new study led by Bart Van de Ven of the Department of Personnel Management, Work and Organization Psychology at Ghent University in Belgium, that is not always the case.

Van de Ven wanted to see how emotional job demands and emotional resources on the job affected emotional exhaustion in technology employees. He assessed 711 workers for levels of work-related emotional stress and emotional resources at their disposal. Particularly, he looked at the availability of supervisors, colleagues, and team sessions as an outlet for emotional stress. He also examined the support-seeking attitudes of the participants and evaluated how all of these factors contributed to or protected them from emotional exhaustion.

The results revealed that the availability of emotional resources did not necessarily decrease emotional exhaustion in those with high levels of emotional job demands. Specifically, those who did not seek help for their emotional stress were not affected by low levels of emotional resources. However, those who were high in support-seeking had increases in emotional exhaustion when resources for releasing their emotional stress were not readily accessible. Van de Ven also found that the employees with high emotional job demands and low support-seeking did see slight decreases in exhaustion when they had resources for their stress. “To prevent emotional exhaustion among technology employees, the availability of emotional job resources is of great importance,” Van de Ven said. Increasing motivation for support seeking, and encouraging a climate of empathy within the company could help many at risk for exhaustion. Van de Ven believes another way to accomplish this is to give employees an opportunity to share their feelings with other colleagues and supervisors during work meetings designed to address emotional demands.

Van de Ven, B, van den Tooren, M., and Vlerick, P. (2012). Emotional job resources and emotional support seeking as moderators of the relation between emotional job demands and emotional exhaustion: A two-wave panel study. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0030656

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  • zach

    January 23rd, 2013 at 3:48 AM

    Funny how I had never given too much thought to those specific kinds of job stressors that would effect these employees that I would not have necessarily considered in the past until I read this. But having read it I can see how they would not only have to deal with the day to day stress of just having a job like the rest of us, but then also being expected to perform at such a high level all the time in an effort to outsmart the competition. I know that most of the time they would be compensated very well for meeting these demands but then you have to step back and wonder at what cost they are having to sacrifice so much as a result. Not sure even if I had the intelligence that it took to make it in this field that this would be something that I would necessarily wish to pursue without a whole lot of other emotional help.

  • leslie

    January 24th, 2013 at 12:32 AM

    availability of supervisors and colleagues?those are hardly the outlets I would be looking at to reduce my emotional stress!in fact,supervisors means more stress and most colleagues only mean competition and thus even more stress.

    something like a hobby or a quick walk in the park is what helps me.and yes,I am in the IT sector.

  • Joshua

    January 24th, 2013 at 9:53 AM

    it is imperative that employers start to see and acknowledge this. Not only should they take care of the employees’ physical well being but also mental and emotional well being. Because at the end of the day, doing so is going to result in better productivity from the employees and also loyalty towards the organization. A great opportunity if employers and organizations handle this carefully.

  • becky

    January 24th, 2013 at 11:40 AM

    for me the presence of colleague-friends really helps. exhaustion and anxiety seem to take over me when i’m working alone but in a team none of it comes in my way. some people are good individually but not good team players but for me its quite opposite.

  • henry

    January 25th, 2013 at 1:40 PM

    it’s stressful yes but it’s not impossible either.everybody needs an outlet. the key is to finding what best serves you as an outlet. also it should be a positive one and not something that helps you cope in a negative manner. hope everybody out there flustered with their job has at least one such outlet they can turn to.

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