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Reducing job stress using the control-demand model of work stress

Study guide

Imagine a CEO and an assembly line worker both working in the same organization. For both of them, their work is stressful; The difference is that the CEO leaves his job every day feeling satisfied, but the assembly line worker feels very anxious and tired. Why are the feelings of these two people different? One way to answer is to consider the demand-control model of work stress; The model says that when people have hard and exhausting jobs, they experience less job stress if they have control over their work.

This model is one of the most studied job stress models. This model is not new, but it is still suitable for work stress. In this article, we will talk about this model and how to apply its principles in your job and team.

Introducing the control model – job stress demand

In 1979, Robert Karasek introduced the demand-control model of work stress and published his findings in the journal Science Science Quarterly.

In his article, he defines two important factors that affect the amount of stress in individuals: job demands and freedom of decision.

  • Job demands are stressful drivers in the workplace; Stimuli such as short deadlines, long-term and unattainable goals, permanent interruptions and conflicting pressures.
  • Freedom of decision (or independence) refers to the degree to which individuals are able to control their work.

Karasek found in his research that people with high job demands but low freedom of decision / independence feel more tired at the end of the day, have trouble waking up in the morning, and have more depression and anxiety. According to him, if workers in such jobs are given more freedom to make decisions, they will experience less stress.

Karask theory

The following figure shows Karaske’s theory.

According to this model, when your job demand is high, but your freedom of decision is low or you have no job freedom, your job is “full”. Conversely, when the high level of demand is somewhat equal to the high level of your decision-making freedom, your job is “busy”; But you have less stress and more job satisfaction.

Jobs to the left of the model (jobs with low demand and high or low decision-making freedom) are either “low-income” or “low-stress”.

Researchers have studied the use of this model and its positive effects on mental and physical health. For example, in a study, researchers examined the impact of this model on the nursing profession. Comparing two groups of nurses with the same workload, they found that the group with more control over their work had lower blood pressure and levels of cortisol (a hormone released in response to stress) than the group with less independence.

However, other researchers have found that for young employees, work-related problems and time pressure are important causes of work stress compared to a lack of independence; But in middle-aged employees, rigid schedules and a lack of problem-solving ability play a more important role in predicting work stress.

How to use the model to reduce your work stress

Although this model has weaknesses, it emphasizes the relationship between work stress and independence.

You can apply the concepts of this model by creating more independence in your work, especially in situations where there is a high demand for work, to have less stress and more job satisfaction.

1. Practical reduction of stress

As a first step, make a list of the tasks and situations that are causing you stress. To do this, it may be best to have a stress log and identify the stressors for a week and write them down.

In the next step, think about how you can increase your independence in these tasks and situations. For example, if collecting reports is stressful for you because your colleagues are not cooperating on time, you can give them less time or draft copies to review and sign.

Talk to your boss if your stress is due to bottlenecks or pressures from your workplace plans. You may conclude that your follow-up will also reduce the stress of co-workers and clients.

۲. Defining borders and monitoring them

Clear boundaries help you understand and care about your needs. This is necessary despite having stressful work plans and dealing with people and time-consuming tasks. Monitor your boundaries carefully as you set them. If you find that these boundaries are constantly being ignored, try other ways to express your needs decisively. In this case, the article “How to say no to the other person without upsetting him” will help you.

It is also important to learn how to deal with irrational requests. Small things that are out of your normal responsibilities can be stressful; Especially if they are permanent. Learn to say no to irrational requests.

3. Build good and valuable relationships

You will experience much less stress when you feel there are people in the workplace who support you and support your co-workers. Encouraging a conversation with someone you trust can have a huge impact on reducing your stress levels during difficult times.

For this reason, building good working relationships is important. Strive to be friendly with your co-workers and offer them help whenever you can.

4. Minimize interruptions

Your stress level will increase despite the interruptions that occur during work. So, do your best to manage these interruptions; Especially if you need to focus on a specific task. There are small things that can help you minimize these interruptions; Lock in your office, turn off your cell phone, and turn off email alerts.

Note: Stress can lead to serious physical problems and in severe cases, it can even lead to death. Although the positive effects of the techniques presented on stress reduction have been proven here, they are for your guidance only. Therefore, if you are worried about becoming ill due to stress or stress has caused you significant or persistent discomfort, consult a specialist.

Use the model to reduce your team stress

If you manage the tasks of people who have stressful work roles, you can use the Karasak model to increase the independence of your team members. In the right place, you can give your team members more freedom to make their own decisions. For example, when you leave a task to someone, take a step back and let that person decide for themselves how to do it.

You can also help increase team independence by teaching team members the concept of source of control. Those who have an inner belief in their own success (that is, a source of inner control) feel less stressed and have a greater ability to adapt to changing circumstances.

Finally, allow your team members to work on a flexible schedule or have the opportunity to work from home or telecommuting. Those who can choose the time and place of their work feel more independent than those who have to work certain hours.

Keep in mind that not all employees will grow and prosper with more independence. For example, it is difficult for some people to work without supervision or guidance.

Use your discretion to determine which team members need the most freedom. The article “Helping People Accept Responsibility” shows you how to encourage and motivate your team members to be independent, accountable, and accountable.


Reducing job stress using the control-demand model of work stress

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