Occupational stress: A study of the New Zealand Reserve Bank

Employees in many countries increasingly complain about high and rising levels of stress at work. As stress levels have increased, employers have faced rising medical bills, more accident insurance claims, increased absenteeism, and declining morale. Most corporate efforts to handle the problem have focused on the symptoms of stress, with, for example, therapy, counselling, gym memberships, and in-house exercise facilities. Professor Robert Karasecc recommends a different approach based on work re-design for greater job enrichment. He argues that stress is caused by heavy work demands in the job itself, which the unskilled employees with little control over how the work is done cannot adapt to or modify. Our study tests Karaseck’s theory using a sample of employees from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand. In general, we find that some stress symptoms decline as skill discretion and decision authority increase, even if work demands are light. We also find that some stress symptoms decline as work demands decrease, even if authority and skill levels are high. As a result, we argue that managers could reduce stress in the workplace by enriching jobs, as Karasek advises, but also by reducing work demands.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Kelley, K. & Harcourt, M. (2001). Occupational stress: A study of the New Zealand Reserve Bank. Research and Practice in Human Resource Management, 9(2), 109-118.
Singapore Human Resources Institute
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