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Ravalier PhD Theis.pdf (1.28 MB)

Managing workplace stress: an appreciative approach

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posted on 2023-08-30, 13:49 authored by Jermaine Ravalier
The presented thesis discusses an investigation conducted into the improvement of employee experiences of stress in the workplace. It is estimated that 11.4 million working days were lost in 2008-2009 due to stress-related outcomes, and that stress was described as the top cause of long-term sickness absence in 70% of all public-sector organisations in 2010-2011 (CIPD, 2011a). Indeed major studies have associated chronic stress with individual outcomes such as increased cardiovascular disease, depression and burnout. The work, conducted within one department of a borough council organisation in the East of England, had two main objectives: the discovery of 'daily hassles' that comprise organisational stressors for staff and the intervention design aimed at improvement of stress. A novel mixed-methods approach combining quantitative surveys with Appreciative Inquiry (AI) was utilised, with five phases of inquiry conducted. The surveys (Stages 1 and 5) were utilised to assess the experience of work-related stress and Burnout. Stages 2, 3 and 4 were employee completion of daily logs, semi-structured interviews and focus groups. The ultimate aim of the qualitative work was to design a number of interventions for the improvement of stress. A local stress theory, designed via the mixing of convergent qualitative and quantitative outcomes, found that professional efficacy, relationships and creativity buffered the impact of three major stressors: (too many) demands, (lack of) managerial support and (poorly communicated) organisational change. These translated into concrete examples of procedural 'hassles' and a number of organisational interventions were designed with staff and subsequently implemented into the organisation. It is concluded that the methodology used was fruitful without being largely resource-demanding for either employees/participants or the organisation. Also while the mixing of AI methodologies with quantitative surveys can appear contradictory, it is demonstrated that the pragmatic approach taken led to strong research and practitioner-based outcomes. Lastly the work has demonstrated both originality and new knowledge in a variety of areas, as well as opening a number of future research questions and avenues.



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