Employee Stress and Performance

Employee Stress is negatively correlated to their work performance. In short, more the level of stress, lower is the performance.

It was conventionally perceived that reasonable levels of stress would boost the employees and improve their work performance. But this perception no longer holds true. Today it is believed that even a little bit of stress will inhibit employees’ work performance. This is due to:

  1. Even relatively slight stress distracts an employee. People facing stress concentrate more on the repulsive feelings and emotions rather than on the work/job at hand and consequently their work performance suffers. Stress affects people’s intellectual, emotional, and interpersonal functioning.

  2. Extended or repeated exposure even to minor levels of stress may have detrimental effects on health and this might lower employee’s work performance.

  3. It has been researched that as stimulation increases, work performance initially increases, but after a point of time begins declining. The exact location of this variation point (at which the function’s direction or trend reverses) appear to depend on the complication of the work/task/job being performed. The more the work complication, the less the stimulation levels at which a decline in performance occurs.

  4. Employees under stress loose their creativity and innovativeness. Their thinking ability is narrowed.

But there are certain exceptions to the rule that stress interferes with work performance. For instance, some people are at their best in times of calamity/crises. They meet the expectations and show remarkable performance at times of great stress. This may stem out from the fact that they have great expertise in the tasks being performed, making their variation/inflection as very high.

People who have exceptional skills and competencies at a task may cognitively evaluate a possibly stressful scenario as a challenge and not as a threat.

Thus, while concluding we can say that whether stress can spoil or increase performance is dependent on factors such as work complication, the skills and expertise of the employee in performing a task, personal traits of individuals/employees involved, etc.

Organizations which encourage an open and honest communication develop an environment in which employees are less likely to be stressed out, enabling the employees to best utilize their abilities and skills and, thus, stimulating the employees work performance.

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