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Lecture 4: Job Stress and Burnout

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Western University
Sociology 3308F/G
Kim Shuey

Lecture 4 Job Stress Burnout in IT  Information technology = key industry in new economy  Stress and burnout considered normal  Table 8.1 in article: o 52% said work negatively affected stress levels o 23% said work led to anxiety o 19% said work affected sleep o 37% said work affects fatigue o 38% said work had negative effect on health  Pace of work and work overload o Long hours o Always on call o Difficult to make plans/relax o No way to escape demands of work o Worked very quickly  Why do it? o Individual pressures: norms and amount of work o Pressures within the company and industry  Work as a „pressure cooker‟ or „treadmill‟  Technology increases the demands that workers face – increases the pace o Difficult to balance demands of work and connection with others/needs of others  Need to remain competitive o 62% felt pressure to continually learn now skills o Pressure to learn new skills – the fear for employees losing their value o Increasingly stressful with age Research Traditions Studying Work and Psychological Well-Being  Job characteristics  Labour market studies o Looking at broader economic structures on mental health – unemployment rates, how the structure of jobs have changed, etc.  Other social roles  Social structure Labour Market Studies: Job Insecurities  Health Effects of Job Insecurity o Chronic uncertainty has negative effects on both physical and mental health o Jon Security Scale: Kuhnert et al. o Company concern with the individual  E.g. confidence in honesty and fairness of management o Job permanence  “I‟m not sure how long my job will last”  “I‟m afraid of losing my job” o Company growth and stability  Management planning to expand, make company successful o Long range perspective  Regarding their position as a career rather than job  Chance of losing job in near future Labour Market Studies: Unemployment  Unemployment: o Definition: individuals whoa re out of work and actively looking for work o Misses “discouraged workers” and “underemployment”  Discouraged workers: those who have been out of work for a period of time and/or think it is unavailable and therefore stop looking, go back to school, „retire‟, etc.  Underemployment: overqualified for the types of the jobs they are currently filling; working part time but wanting a full time job o Unemployment rate: currently 7.1% in Canada  Doesn‟t capture the individual experience and how long they have been out of work o Higher unemployment rates associated with higher rates of disease and distress o As unemployment grows, there are higher rates of admission into psychiatric hospitals, higher rates of mortality, higher rates of cardiovascular disease etc.  Difficult to pinpoint to unemployment  Bad for the unemployed  Uncertainty for the remaining  Workloads increase  Supervision increases o Unemployment and mental health  Change in identity – how they feel about themselves and how they think others feel about them  Financial strain  Stressful life event – acute and chronic stressor  Higher rates of physical and mental illness – increased drinking, increased levels of depression/anxiety, onset of physical illness, increased drug abuse Film: Not Just a Paycheck  Examples of stresses associated with job loss o Underemployed, different level of control o Personal relationships o Lack of control 
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