Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the proposed mixed methods research is to explore and evaluate the effectiveness of the strategies adopted by the financial services organizations in the US to deal with occupational stress. In particular, the qualitative component of this research will focus on exploring the factors contributing to occupational stress within financial services organizations, the strategies that these organizations have implemented to deal with the issue of organizational stress, and the way their employees are coping with organizational stress. On the other hand, the quantitative component of this research will focus on investigating the effectiveness of approaches used by these organizations to reduce occupational stress. In order to achieve this objective, three case studies of financial services organizations in the US will be explored. Prior to embarking on the research, the researcher will contact three financial services organizations and request for permission to use these organizations as case studies in the research. The participants in this research will comprise of human resources (HR) personnel and employees in the selected case organizations. The participants will be selected using convenience sampling, which is a sampling approach wherein participants are selected based on their accessibility. For each selected case organization, three HR personnel and 15 employees will be qualitatively surveyed. Data for the qualitative component of this research will be collected using semi-structured interviews administered to the sample HR personnel and employees drawn from the case organizations. The interviews with the HR personnel will focus on understanding the organizational factors contributing to occupational stress as well as the strategies adopted by their organizations to decrease the occupational stress. Additionally, data triangulation will be performed by reviewing formal organizational policies to determine the measures adopted by the organization to lower the occupational stress. The interviews with employees will focus on exploring personal and work-related factors that contribute to occupational stress. Moreover, these interviews will focus on gathering information regarding how employees in financial service organizations cope wit occupational stress. Data for the quantitative aspect of this research will be collected via conducting self-administered questionnaires with employees from the selected case studies. The instrument that will be used to measure occupational stress is the Pressure Management Indicator (PMI), which refers to the self-report questionnaire comprising of 120 items (Loh, Than, & Quek, 2011). This scale is comprehensive, reliable, and valid. It captures various outcomes associated with occupational stress including exhaustion, physical symptoms, worry, resilience, depression and anxiety, organizational commitment, organizational security, organizational satisfaction, and job satisfaction (Loh, Than, & Quek, 2011). Additionally, the scale captures numerous stressors including daily hassles, home demands, personal responsibility, managerial responsibility, career development, relationships, and workload pressure. Moreover, the scale captures some moderator variables including the coping strategies such as social support, work-life balance, and problem focus (Loh, Than, & Quek, 2011). The outcome scales for various organizations will be compared with respect to various methods implemented by the organizations in order to determine the most effective in the context of financial services organizations. The rationale for this research stems from the increase in the prevalence of occupational stress in organizations, which results in deleterious effects for organizations such as employee burnout, detachment, lower productivity, reduced organizational commitment, detachment, and cynicism among others. Thus, there is a need to further understand how to reduce occupational stress. Although there are vast guidelines that organizations can adopt to deal with the problem of occupational stress, they have not been evaluated in specific organizational contexts such as financial services organizations. That is why the knowledge acquired from this research study will be helpful for financial services organizations with respect to developing the most effective methods for reducing occupational stress.
Occupational stress is attributed to incompatibility between individual competencies and organizational demands (Arnetz, Lucas, & Arnetz, 2011). The negativve impacts associated with occupational stress for the individual employee and the organization have been outlined in the literature, which include absenteeism, lack of motivation, and lack of creativity (Babatunde, 2013). Other outcomes associated with occupational stress include health effects such as depression and cardiovascular disease, and reduced wellbeing. The above mentioned outcomes have a substantial effect on the organizational performance (Mazzola, Schonfeld, & Spector, 2011). Some general work-related factors have been reported to contribute to occupational stress such as role ambiguity, role conflict, role overload, organizational rules, procedures and regulations, and interactions with subordinates, coworkers, and managers (Salami, 2010). In the literature, some guidelines have been proposed that organizations can adopt to reduce occupational stress as well as methods that employees can use. These approaches are broadly divided into three categories, which include measures targeting to change the organizational characteristics, measures targeting to change the role characteristics, and measures that seek to change the task characteristics (Teo, Pick, Newton, Yeung, & Chang, 2013). Some of the methods targeting the individual include relaxation and meditation techniques, cognitive behavioral methods, time management and goal setting, and employee assistance programs. The following research questions will guide this research:
- What are the contributors to occupational stress in the financial services sector?
- What strategies have financial services organizations adopted to help reduce occupational stress?
- How do employees in the service sector organizations cope with occupational stress
- Do the strategies adopted by financial services organizations in reducing occupational stress have varying effectiveness?
H1: Different interventions for addressing occupational stress have varying effectiveness.
H2: Various interventions for occupational stress are equally effective.