The causes of stress can be:

  1. Individual causes
  2. Group causes
  3. Organization causes
  4. Environment causes

1. Individual causes of stress:

They can be:

a. Body-oriented:

They affect the body. They are experienced in terms of certain physical symptoms or in terms of care of body. Symptoms can be:

  • Difficulties in sleeping
  • Feeling of lethargy or tense
  • General physical malaise
  • Drinking too much
  • Not staying fit
  • Less care of grooming or appearance
  • Not relaxing

b. Emotion-oriented:

They affect emotional life. They are experienced both in terms of feelings and through the things that weigh on minds. Symptoms can be:

  • Extended periods of sadness, depression
  • Feelings of loneliness or not understood
  • Feeling unusually irritable or angry
  • Frustration

c. Relationship-oriented:

The quality of relationship is crucial to sense of well-being. The feeling of good and supportive relationship reduces stress. The relationship can be with the organization, with the work and with oneself. Symptoms of stress creating relationships are:

  • Conflict between personal goal and organizational goals
  • Bad feeling about what organization is doing
  • Feel unsupported by the organization and its staff
  • Feel uninvolved in job
  • Not balancing work-life relationships

d. Event-oriented:

Events in one’s life may create stress. They can be death, divorce, illness, retirement, job change etc.

e. Personality-oriented:

Individual differences of personality may create stress. Examples are:

  • Working long hours under pressure
  • Taking work at home
  • Setting ambitious standards which are unachievable
  • Frustration at work situation
  • Lack of personal control over work environment/job

2. Group Causes of Stress

Stress can be associated with groups. Sources of group stress can be:

a) Lack of social cohesiveness:

Togetherness is important for employees at low levels. Stress happens when a group member is denied the opportunity for group cohesiveness. It can be due to changes in task design, supervisory actions or actions of other group members.

b) Lack of social support:

Group support facilitates sharing of problems and joys among members. Lack of such social support leads to stress.

c) Conflicts:

Conflicts is closely related to stress. It consists of all types of opposition or antagonistic interaction.

3. Organizational Causes of Stress

Stress can be associated with organization itself. The sources of organizational stress can be:

a) Administrative policies

  • Staff cuts and layoffs; downsizing
  • Competitive pressure in the job environment
  • Work shifts; overwork/underwork
  • Pay plans to remunerate employees
  • New technology

b) Organization design (Task Demand)

They are related to job.

  • Centralization/specialization
  • Poor promotion opportunities
  • Work overload; time pressure
  • Poor job climate

c) Organizational processes

  • One way communication
  • Lack of delegation and decentralization
  • Lack of participation in decision making
  • Defective performance appraisal system

d) Working condition (Physical demand)

  • Noise, heat, cold, poor lighting
  • Polluted water, air, stinking toilets
  • Crowded work area
  • Physical or mental strain
  • Health hazards in the job
  • Poor quality of work life

4. Environmental Causes of Stress:

Pressures from the environment also cause stress. The sources can be:

a) Technological changes:

They make employee obsolete.

b) Social changes:

            The pace and rate of social change is accelerating. Individuals may not be able to cope with such change in terms of life styles.

c) Family:

Family has big impact on personality development. Family situations create stress. Dislocation of family due to transfer in jobs also lead to stress.

d) Relocation due to life’s changes:

  • Economic conditions in the country, e.g. Price raises, unemployment.
  • Political uncertainties
  • Community conditions