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Stress and Burnout: A Review of Literature

The costs to an organization are found in premature deaths of employees, higher rates of accidents, performance inefficiencies, increased disability payments, higher rates of turnover and absenteeism, and low levels of job satisfaction (Workplace stress, 1991). Among the variables that contribute to stress on the job are workload and role conflict. Workload can relate to the quantity of work or the quality of the activity to be completed. Both underload and overload can create stress. Overload can cause an individual to work long hours, resulting in fatigue, increased accidents, and a negative attitude toward the job or coworkers. Conversely, if an individual is under loaded, then boredom can set in. Bored workers often avoid work by staying home more frequently and by searching for alternative employment (Ivancevich, 1998).

Role conflict is of equal significance as a source of stress. The ways in which an individual behaves in a given job depends on many factors. A combination of the expectations and demands an employee will place upon himself or herself and those of co-workers results in a set of forces called role pressures. When a situation arises in which two or more role pressures are at odds, role conflict emerges. Role conflict is said to exist whenever compliance with one set of pressures makes compliance with another set difficult, objectionable, or impossible.

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