Career Development

Career Development: The Impact of Stress on Work Productivity

Identifying Stress Symptoms and Their Impact on Work Productivity

Individuals react to stress differently, but each person begins with the same physiological response. Stress responses place a lot of demand on the body and mind.

Extreme stress response can be deadly, as the result may take the form of chronic disease; such as heart disease and cancer (Garrain and Bly, 1997).

Stress is commonplace in both our work and home lives; an understanding of the symptoms can be helpful. Selye identified three stages of stress and without intervention, an individual will pass through each.

The first stage is Alarm.

In this stage, the heart rate increases, breathing rate increases, digestion slows and blood pressure goes up. These changes are a result of the release of adrenaline.

The immune system is also suppressed when other hormones are released and clotting agents begin to increase in the blood. These are not noticeable symptoms, however; if they persist the outcome may be deadly.

It is not uncommon for workers to experience heart attacks while at their jobs.

Persons who work in high-stress jobs must utilize effective coping mechanisms, to ensure their survival. Registrars, police personnel, and doctors are just examples of professionals with high-stress jobs. If these individuals suffer from any of the effects of this stage of stress, the number of policemen and doctors will definitely decrease.

As with any organization, the well-being of your employee affects productivity.

So if more registry personnel, doctors, and policemen become ill, the registry will be non-productive and student complaints will increase. In the case of the doctors, more patients will not receive prompt treatment. More patients may die and the fear stigma that is attached to hospitals will definitely hamper patients from receiving treatment at medical facilities.

Resistance is the second stage of stress as identified by Selyes.

In this stage, ‘counter’ hormones decrease the heart rate and the body remains on alert. Long-term effects of resistance include backaches, headaches, high blood pressure, and ulcers.

These symptoms will adversely affect productivity.

We can refer to the registry scenario, for example, the registrar may suffer from increasing manifestations of headaches during student examination and registration period. Her focus is drawn to the discomfort and there is an inability to operate effectively.

In addition, because of the situation, she might desire to go on leave or take sick days. Again, the job suffers. There have been suggestions that cancer may be linked to prolonged stress (Garrain and Bly, 1997).

After prolonged stress the body losses the initial resilience it had.

This stage is known as the Exhaustion stage. Eventually, the body’s defenses are worn down, due to the cycle of alarm and resistance.

At this stage, the immune system is fully depressed and diseases like cancer, alcoholism, and heart disease take over.

Burnout, however, is common in this stage.

When an employee experiences psychological and physical exhaustion of the ability to cope with stress; he or she may experience a productivity level of zero.

Stress-related illnesses cost more to treat than do other work-related illnesses.

The costs for health insurance of benefit programs would most likely be high. If an organization were greatly affected by the effects of stress, then the results would be evident. Fewer employees present at work, less human resources will be deployed to resolve issues, are just examples of what happens.

Most importantly, the morale and relationship between co-workers would be ‘sour’ and ‘breed’ conflict and a lack of professionalism. Companies must utilize and implement stress management programs to maintain productivity and employee satisfaction.

  1. Sdorow, L. M., (1993). Psychology (2nd Edition), Brown & Benchmark Publishers
  2. Garrain, M., Bly, M. Human Relations: Productive Approaches for the Workplace. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1997.



About the writer:
Poetess Denise N. Fyffe is a published author of over 30 books, for more than ten years and enjoys Training, Publishing and Counseling. She is a freelance writer for online publications such as Revealing the Christian Life, Jamaica Rose, Entertainment Trail, My Trending Stories among others.

Check out her book The Expert Teacher’s Guide on How to Motivate

This handbook highlights the most efficient teaching techniques to motivate students. The Expert Teacher’s Guide on How to Motivate Students initially examines who is an expert teacher and how to become one. Then it will delve into how to get students to learn any subject by implementing effective motivation strategies.

Available at all online book retailers and




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