Sample Psychology Research Paper on Job Stress and Burnout

Job Stress and Burnout

Job stress and burnout lead to the mental, emotional, and physical strain that makes people ineffective. When such situations persist, job output is affected and the organization fails to achieve its target. Personally, I was once employed as a manager in a certain organization. Management entailed various activities that made me occupied the whole day while at work. The main problem arose from a lack of clarity on my job description. The senior management team had not made it clear to me my full scope of work to help me plan well. Therefore, each time something could go wrong, my supervisors could reprimand me for not doing my work. In essence, my job description changed each moment something could go wrong on things that related to my work. As I continued working in that organization, I never knew the next reaction of my seniors to the one or two things I failed to do. Eventually, job stress and burnout set in because of too much work.

  1. Factors that contributed to high levels of stress and burnout

Uncertainty on task demands made it difficult to focus on specific job duties to achieve results. I was not aware of where the daily tasks I undertook would lead me. Job stress comes when an employee is not aware of the changes that may occur in daily tasks. Planning and scheduling of activities were the major problems because of the uncertainty of the daily changes. Because of that, I developed psychological disorders like anxiety and emotional imbalance. I seemed to be busy; however, I did not have a specific target on what to achieve because of the demands of the uncertain task. On a given day, I would dedicate my time to a particular activity, only for the seniors to come up with other tasks, leading to a number of incomplete projects. That is how I developed job stress and burnout.

Uncertainty of my job description led to my stress because I could not have a plan of the activities and the outcome. As noted by Bianchi, Schonfeld, & Laurent (2014), uncertainty leads to stress because an employee spends much time trying to figure out what should be done at each moment. The shifting goals and expectations from the seniors led to anxiety and stress. Eventually, I had to adjust myself to do all things possible in order to avoid the backlash that could arise from not meeting the expectations of the management. I later realized I was experiencing burnout out of the many activities and planning for the assignments. Irrespective of the changing work environment and the related increased activities, the top management never discussed with me the commensurate remuneration. Personally, I felt being used to achieve more without proper compensation for my work. I developed stress from the pressure to perform and deliver a positive outcome. The overworking also led to burnout because I felt I had no time for myself, just recollect and think. I was always anxious and depressed about what may happen to me if I did not meet the expectations of my seniors.

Exposure to inconsistent and difficult expectations is also enhanced by high levels of stress and burnout. A role conflict led to multiple expectations from me, some of which I was not aware of. Therefore, I felt overburdened by roles that were vague in nature and could only be said after something went wrong. As much as I had a role to play within the organization, the management had more expectations, some of which my jurisdiction did not cover. The ambiguous nature of the roles led to confusion on what I could achieve within given timelines because of the uncertainties of the orders from the top management (Länsisalmi, Peiró, & Kivimäki, 2000). Fear and anxiety sets in when one embarks on a job without a definite expectation from the seniors.

Lack of support from the management made the situation difficult because the roles were way beyond my capabilities. According to Tepper (2000), when an employee gets a role or responsibility that does not match with the knowledge and abilities; they challenge way above their coping abilities. The situation becomes worse when little support comes from the management and colleagues to accomplish the tasks. Most of the time, I never had control of the tasks assigned and more clarifications would only come after a problem is detected. In effect, I developed psychological disorders that made me ineffective in my work.

  1. What might the organization have done to help reduce stress levels? Identify leadership behaviors as well as organizational policies.

The organization could have worked on a policy that makes leaders provide clear expectations for all employees on specific roles undertaken. Every time the organization recruits, each employee should understand the roles and expectations with a confirmation of the ability to take up the tasks. Without such, the employees may work with uncertainties that lead to reprimanding and increased stress levels. Most employees overwork in a bid to impress the leaders when roles and expectations are clear (Bryan, & Vinchur, 2012). Eventually, stress and burnout set in to reduce productivity as health deteriorates.

The leadership should set reasonable expectations and support the employees to accomplish them. Employees feel the pressure when the expectations are too high and unrealistic in given conditions. The leaders should ensure that set expectations that help meet organizational goals. Supervision also helps identify employees that seem to have difficulties coping with the high expectations. Assessment of the workload also helps identify instances of stress and coming with various, kinds of support that help encourage employees to achieve more.

  1. How might an I/O psychologist assess the need for change and facilitate that change in your example?

Industrial-organizational (IO) psychologists are effective in assessing and managing employee stress and burnout levels. They can assess the environmental and social factors that may contribute to the occupational stress of the employees within an organization (Whetton, & Cameron, 2005). With their expertise, they do a better job than the organizational leaders.

Opening communication channels between leadership and employees is a prerequisite towards employee satisfaction. The I/O psychologists could assess the communication flow within the organization in order to come up with appropriate programs that allow leaders to interact with employees. Proper communication will provide an opportunity for the employees to air their concerns on workload and expectations to the authorities. Sulsky, & Smith (2005) argues that the I/O psychologists might help achieve this through training the business executives on how to have effective communication with employees. Communication helps the management to design work schedules that avoid stress and burnout.

I/O psychologists can also help design workspace ergonomics that reduce stress and burnout. Stress develops from the combined effect of the mental and physical state of an employee. Therefore, the social and physical aspects of the working area can help develop interpersonal job relations that reduce stress. On this note, the I/O psychologists are capable of redesigning the workspace, equipment, and layout that helps modern employees work effectively. They come up with a layout that allows employees to exercise and stay fit throughout the day in order to escape stress and burnout. Organizations can make good use of I/O psychologists in order to assess, design, and implement policies that reduce stress and burnout. With this, organizations will be more productive, profitable, and competitive in the market.


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Reexamination with special focus on atypical depression”. International Journal of Stress Management 21(4): 307–324.

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