ISSUES CONTRIBUTING TO STRESS


Job Expectations

There are a number of job expectations that can contribute dramatically to our levels of stress. The types of clients we serve, and the size of our caseload have already been noted. As they relate to job expectations, a few additional terms are worth noting here.
 
Role Ambiguity- In some cases one’s job duties and responsibilities are not entirely clear. Confusion about the different aspects of one’s job is called role ambiguity. If expectations are not clearly stated, supervisors can be expecting one thing while peers and colleagues are expecting something entirely different. This kind of role ambiguity can be very stressful. It is important to work towards clarifying one’s job roles as much as possible. Job role clarity can provide individuals with important structure. It can also provide people with a sense of what tasks they can say yes to and which ones they need to decline. This is very difficult to do when roles are not clearly defined.

Role Incongruity- Although somewhat like role ambiguity, role incongruity takes on a slightly different meaning. Role incongruity is the difference between what one believes needs to be done in a certain job and what one actually does. It is frequently an offshoot of role ambiguity. Without clearly defined job expectations, people may end up performing duties that run contrary to their beliefs and understanding about what they ought to be doing. Again, this can dramatically increase levels of stress. It is important to address role incongruity in the workplace.

Role Conflict- Professionals frequently have to make decisions about what needs to be done on the job. Paperwork expectations sometimes fly in the face of direct client needs. Making difficult decisions about what needs to be done and when, deciding when one task takes priority over another is known as role conflict. While this is a part of any job, recognizing these dilemmas and finding ways to address them are important skills to develop. Increased stress can develop otherwise.

Task Overload- A final concern as it relates to job expectations is the idea of task overload. It is not at all uncommon for practitioners in different work settings to reach a point where they are completely overloaded with responsibilities. As responsibilities increase it can become increasingly difficult to complete anything. This can compromise the level of care that we provide for our clientele. It is important to develop ways to cope with task overload. Unless we find ways to recognize when the tasks have gotten too great, we will not be able to address this important aspect of work.