Appreciation and Stress Level, Research Proposal Example

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Research Proposal

Abstract

This paper will discuss the importance of specific factors in relation to how an employee views his or her job and how they perform their jobs. It will discuss how employees expect to be treated, their salary, the importance of scheduling and the ways in which they deal with stress in and outside the workplace. It has been shown that these four factors are extremely important for employees of all companies and they make a tremendous difference on how the employee decides he or she is going to do his or her job. It is a common fact that if employees are able to work in an environment where they are treated respectfully, are paid a decent wage, are able to make a schedule that works well for them, and have the ability to deal with their own stress in a positive way, are more apt to perform their specific duties beyond the norm.

Appreciation and Stress Level in Relation to Job Performance

Many individuals in our society today hate going to their jobs. There are many reasons for this, but one of the most common is that they feel they are not appreciated enough. Many employees are looking for careers where they are respected and where they are able to deal with their stress in and out of the workplace with positive reinforcement from co-workers and managers. Many employees struggle to find the common balance between their jobs, their home lives, their extracurricular activities, and the things that matter most to them. However, when they are at work, many do the best they can to be productive unless there are causes for their unproductivity. Many of these causes relate to how they feel about their jobs or the organization in which they work for and if they do not like what they do, they will not put forth that extra mile. It is important for managers to understand their employees and understand the reasons in which they may not be using their full potential at work. These things are very difficult to come by in our society. Many careers do not offer such benefits to employees and this makes the employee dislike what they do, which in turn, makes their job performance decrease.

Literature Review

It is important to understand job performance and how it relates to workers based on their ideas of their jobs and the places in which they work. Many individuals will not put forth extra effort if they do not feel they are respected, competent, or even able to deal with the stress that comes along with being an adult. If employees do not have these things as well as a job that they are interested in and a job that actually gives them satisfaction, their job performance is not going to be the greatest. According to Stephane Cote (1999), “job satisfaction is traditionally defined as an attitude held by an employee regarding various aspects of work, and attitudes have both affective and cognitive components” (p.66). This is a very relevant topic to the study of business and psychology today as many businesses have a higher rate of turnover due to a lot of these factors. Many individuals are not going to stay with a company that does not provide them with respect, decent compensation, flexibility, and less stress. Without these, job performance will continue to decline and more individuals will continue to work ineffectively, both for themselves and the companies they work for. Each person has their own view in regards to job performance, what is acceptable, and what should and should not be done. Therefore, job performance and the amount of work completed are constantly changing. The important factor is that there should be some type of golden rule in relation to job performance and what is expected of employees. Predictors of job performance, however, are always going to be the same and employees are going to look for jobs where they feel they are going to be respected and can feel confident in the work they are doing, and where the stress level is at a lower scale. Honestly, aren’t these the kinds of jobs that all people want?

First, an employee must feel respected and competent in his or her line of work in order for his or her job performance to be efficient and effective. Letting employees perform their own role identities in the workplace helps them feel as if they are respected and competent in their own work and this provides greater job performance. According to Steven Farmer and Linn Van Dyne (2010), “role identities – self-definitions based on occupying particular roles – are practically important in the workplace because they influence work-related performance behaviors such as employee creativity, citizenship behaviors, and volunteering” (p. 503). Unfortunately, we live in a society where much more is expected of women than of men in the workplace due to their nurturing capabilities and their ability to communicate on different levels. However, this can be detrimental in the workplace as many women may feel as if they are just there because employers have to hire women. Whether women or men, each individual should have to work and improve on their skills. Unfortunately, this is not the case all the time. James Diefendorff, Douglas Brown, Allen Kamin and Robert Lord (2002) talk specifically about sex differences when it comes to Organizational Citizenship Behaviors (OCBs). They state:

Theory on prescriptive stereotypes suggests that because women are perceived to have higher levels of communal attributes and to be more friendly than men, they are expected to perform OCBs to a greater extent than men. In fact, research by Chen and Heilman demonstrates that women who do not perform OCBs receive fewer rewards than men who do not perform OCBs (p. 97).

Things such as this are not fair and women are not going to want to work harder if fairness is not going to be a key factor in their work. According to Christopher Barnes, Jochen Reb, and Dionysius Ang, (2012), “given the value that many organizations place on learning, skill development, and adaptation, it is reasonable to expect that employees who show an improving trend of performance will be viewed as more valuable employees than those with a deteriorating trend and should be compensated accordingly” (p. 713). This is absolutely true. Compensation and rewards are very important to workers. Therefore, if they know that they can work hard and earn raises and rewards, they will do so. When saying employees must feel respected and competent in their work, this does not mean that everything has to focus on them. Teamwork is a big part of productivity, accomplishment, and positive feedback. According to Mark Griffin, Malcolm Patterson, and Michael West (2001), “effective team implementation can enhance the motivational properties of work and increase job satisfaction” (p. 537). A supervisor has the opportunity to put his or her employees in groups and help each individual find his or her leadership capabilities. This helps encourage and motivate employees to want to take control of certain aspects of their jobs and gives them confidence in what they are doing (Griffin et al., 2001, p. 537).

Compensation is important to all individuals and an employee must be earning enough money in his or her line of work in order for his or her job performance to be efficient and effective. Compensation is a very huge factor in whether employees perform their job duties efficiently and effectively. Barnes et al. (2012) state:

Compensation decisions are arguably among the most important decisions that organizations make. How much to pay their employees has important implications for both employees (e.g., their motivation, satisfaction, perceived fairness, and turnover intentions) and organizations (p.711)

If companies continue to pay employees what they are worth, this can provide motivation, direction, and reinforcement to employees and this will help in improving and maintaining future performance of all employees. However, if individuals feel as if they are doing the work for nothing, many are not going to enjoy their jobs and are not going to want to do the best that they can actually do. They will only put in minimal effort to complete the tasks. There will not be any going the extra mile for the company in which they work. The work in which they do will only be to complete tasks and keep the job that they have at the time. A study, completed by Luis R. and Gomez-Mejia (1992), “generally support the notion (untested before) that firm performance is a positive function of the degree to which compensation strategies reinforce or match corporate strategies” (p. 389). They state:

More specifically, an algorithmic compensation pattern (with its emphasis on formalized rules and procedures and a more mechanistic orientation) tends to make a greater contribution to firm performance among dominant and related product firms, and companies that grow internally (pp. 389-399).

In addition, employees must be able to deal with everyday stress of the job and in their personal lives in order to perform their jobs competently and effectively. Stress is one of the biggest factors of burnout in the workplace. This goes for any job, any career. If there is stress at the job and stress at home, many individuals have a lower job performance rate because they are dealing with too much stress where it is not needed. According to Pamela Jacobs, Michelle Tytherleigh, Christine Webb, and Cary Cooper (2007), “a direct linear negative relationship between stress and performance was found overall, with those reporting higher levels of stress reporting lower levels of productivity” (p.200). Stress affects the mood and the disposition of any individual. Helping alleviate stress at the workplace can be easy and can be beneficial. According to an article entitled “Emotional Intelligence Predicts Job Performance” (2010), “emotional intelligence is a field of study characterized by contradicting claims, models and methods” (p.17). This is important because a person has to be aware of his or her own emotional intelligence. Luis R. Gomez-Mejia (1992) states:

According to Leontiades (1980), ‘steady state’ firms (those that grow internally) are associated with a more intimate form of control by top management, intense socialization of junior managers, cross-fertilization, of employees across units, longer tenure, and a desire to provide a unitary corporate-wide perspective (385).

This not only helps alleviate stress as companies are working to better the whole company, but it also helps with compensation, making things easier for the employee to work diligently to accomplish tasks and perform his or her job effectively. Also, Jacobs et al. (2007) state that their study suggests the following:

Some aspects of work stress, such as access to resources and good communication, good work relationships, and satisfaction with pay and benefits, may play a more pivotal role in the stress-performance relationship when performance is measured by self-evaluation (p. 207).

Common stresses that are related to job performance are work stressors. “Work stressors are environmental factors at work that lead to individual strains – aversive and potentially harmful reactions of the individual” (Beehr, Jex, Stacy, & Murray, 2000, p. 391). The more work stressors there are, the less people are actually going to be able to do their jobs properly and effectively. According to Beehr et al. (2000), “stressors that are more job-specific (whether chronic or acute) may have the greatest impact on individual strains and performance, because they are most salient to employees in a particular job” (p. 392). This, in turn, creates more stress on the company as a whole, such as managers. Beehr et al. (2000) state that these types of stressors are commonly linked to absenteeism, turnover, and performance (p. 392). It is better to eliminate these types of stressors on employees so that the company retains employees who will put forth the effort and do their jobs properly.

Though work stressors are common, these are not the only stressors that predict how a person will perform his or her work. John M. Ivancevich (1986) states:

Lazarus proposed that it is these hassles and uplifts that ultimately should have significance for health and other outcomes. While there is increasing interest in the impact of hassles and uplifts on health outcomes, relatively little attention has been devoted toward their impact, if any, on organizational outcome. (p. 39)

According to Ivancevich (1986) “hassles are defined as experiences or conditions of daily living that are appraised as salient and harmful or threatening to a person’s well-being” (p.40). Hassles can be things as small as losing a set of keys in the morning to other things that are much bigger in context such as health problems and other key problems in a person’s life. Hassles change the way a person lives life and does his or her work, inside and outside of the home. According to Ivancevich (1986), “when a person is feeling under pressure, an event that is typically ignored (e.g. wasting time) or considered to be positive (e.g. completing a task) may take a negative tone. Thus, a general overall perception may influence specific responses regarding hassles. From such a perspective, the details of which hassles are cited by the person are less important” (p. 41). But, not just one hassle is going to set a person off for his or her entire lives. It is the presence of many hassles in a given day, month or year that may be significant in the way in which a person deals with his or her stress. Ivancevich (1986) states the following:

Since probably no person leads a hassle-free life at home or at work, the impact of hassles on health, performance, and absenteeism, if any, must depend on facts such as a routinely high frequency of hassles, the increased intensity of hassles during a given period, a crisis situation, or the presence of a major hassle of compelling significance (p. 40).

Stress also causes moods to change in people. According to Thomas A. Wright, Russell Cropanzano and David G. Meyer (2004), “in support of a state or situational perspective, prior research has proposed that transitory moods or states may be more important than stable traits in understanding absenteeism, pro-social behavior and job satisfaction” (p. 366). There are ways in which individuals, such as managers can alleviate the stress of the job. “For instance, Brief (1998) proposed that one way to increase employee job satisfaction is by injecting humor into the workplace. Thus, the introduction of humor is seen as positively affecting employee mood(s) which, in turn, could lead to increased satisfaction with aspects of one’s job” (Wright et al., 2004, p. 366). If a company improves the job satisfaction, it is likely that it also improve the job performance. Another source, Stephane Cote (2010) states the following in relation to moods and how performance can be affected:

Staw and Barsade (1993) examined the relation between an individual’s general disposition to experience pleasant affective states and managerial performance. The findings supported the ‘happier-and-smarter hypothesis; specifically, positive affectivity was associated with good decision making, high peer rankings of performance, strong quality of participation, strong leadership, and high overall ratings of managerial potential (p. 66).

When employees are not able to have flexible schedules to deal with everyday life, their stress levels rise and their job performance decreases. An employee must be able to have a flexible schedule that works for him or her and the company in order to perform their job satisfactorily. Many individuals want flexible schedules due to other jobs, or family, or friends, and so forth. This is one of the main things that prospective employees look for when they are applying for jobs. If they have some sort of flexibility, where they are able to take care of the other important things in their lives, they are going to be much happier at their job and will perform better knowing that they are able to take care of other things and do their jobs at the same time. If employees feel as if they are valued enough that they can have flexible schedules, they are more apt to enjoy their working environments and their productivity will increase. They will be able to focus on their jobs as well as the other things within their lives. This is something that most jobs do not offer and it takes a lot out of employees. It makes them feel as if their needs are not valued or respected; therefore, they feel as if they should not have to put 100% into their jobs.

Proposed Hypotheses          

Employees’ job performance depends on the level of appreciation and the level of stress within their workplace community. It is expected that if employees are able to acquire respect, appreciation, and a lower level of stress, these employees will be better satisfied with their jobs and will have a higher degree of job performance that goes the extra mile and creates a positive, effective, and efficient workplace for all.

Research Question

Are employees more apt to perform their job duties if they are appreciated and respected and able to deal with stress in and out of the workplace in a positive manner?

Methodology

The sample used for this particular research will be administrative assistants within multiple companies throughout the state. The sample will be chosen due to the fact that administrative assistants are not bosses, do not get paid the best (in some cases), are stuck on a specific schedule the majority of the time, and deal with a large amount of stress throughout the day no matter what field they are in. 175 women between the ages of 20 and 45 in the Administrative field will be studied throughout this research procedure. These women range from entry level administrative assistants to higher level administrative assistants within their fields and are of many racial and ethnic backgrounds. Data will be collected throughout the study using questionnaires and specific interviews with each individual Administrative Assistant who participates in the study. First, a questionnaire will be sent out to more than 500 Administrative Assistants in the state. Only 175 will actually reply to the first questionnaire. This will determine the participants for the study. Afterwards, another questionnaire will be sent out to each of the participants. This questionnaire will be a little more detailed in questioning so that the study can specifically show the important factors of job performance for these individuals. The statistics that will be used to analyze the data are those within the background research compared to the statistics that are developed throughout this study. It is important to compare earlier research with future research and statistics to find a common denominator to see what can be done in order to produce better job performance. The statistics from this study will be drawn from the responses of each Administrative Assistant based on their ideas of their job performance in comparison with the factors above including the way in which they are treated, compensation, scheduling, and stress level. The questionnaires will be based on the likert scale and will give the researcher an idea of the importance of appreciation and levels of stress based on job performance.

As seen through research, many employees are more apt to perform their job duties and do an exceptional job at completing their duties if they are respected, earn enough money, have schedules that work with their daily lives, and if they can manage the stress in and outside of the workplace. Managers and supervisors have to be competent in their dealings with their employees as each employee expects different things when accepting a position and doing their actual work. These managers have to learn how to work with their employees in order to create a system that allows for them to enjoy doing their jobs and helps them become better employees for the companies in which they work.

Future Directions and Implications

Stress is always going to be a part of our lives. There is no doubt about that. However, there has only been so much research done on stress and how it affects the ways in which individuals go about their days. More research should be done on how companies or managers, in particular, can decrease the amount of work stress in order to provide their employees with a welcoming, united place to work. This would guarantee that employees are enjoying their jobs and doing their best at performing their jobs. As more research comes out, companies can mandate their managers to take courses in reference to work related stress and how to decrease and hopefully eliminate it altogether. In addition, managers should know their employees, be able to see when they are too stressed (either in reference to work or in other aspects of their lives), and offer encouraging or uplifting words in order to help them through their times of struggle. It is important for managers to know their employees and to interact with them on a daily basis. This helps the manager understand their employees and helps the employee feel comfortable coming to them with problems and other issues that could arise, either in the workplace or outside the workplace.

References

Barnes, C. M., Reb, J., & Ang, D. (2012). More than just the mean: Moving to a dynamic view of performance-based compensation. Journal of Applied Psychology, 97(3), 711-718. doi: 10.1037/a0026927

Beehr, T. A., Jex, S. M., Stacy, B. A., & Murray, M. A. (2000). Work stressors and coworker support as predictors of individual strain and job performance. Wiley-Blackwell, 21(4), 391-405.

Cote, S. (1999). Affect and performance in organizational settings. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 8(2), 65-68. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20182561

Diefendorff, J. M., Brown, D. J., Kamin, A. M., & Lord, R. G. (2002). Examining the roles of job involvement and work centrality in predicting organizational citizenship behaviors and job performance. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 23(1), 93-108.

Emotional intelligence predicts job performance. (2010, October 27). Science Daily. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101027153041.htm

Farmer, S. M., & Van Dyne, L. (2010). The idealized self and the situated self as predictors of employee work behaviors. Journal of Applied Psychology, 95(3), 503-516. doi: 10.1037/a0019149

Gomez-Mejia, L. R. (1992). Structure and process of diversification, compensation strategy, and firm performance. Strategic Management Journal, 13(5), 381-397.

Griffin, M. A., Patterson, M. G., & West, M. A. (2001). Job satisfaction and teamwork: The role of supervisor support. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 22(5), 537-550.

Ivancevich, J. M. (1986). Life events and hassles as predictors of health symptoms, job performance, and absenteeism. Wiley-Blackwell, 7(1), 39-51.

Jacobs, P. A., Tytherleigh, M. Y., Webb, C., & Cooper, C. L. (2007). Predictors of work performance among higher education employees: An examination using the asset model of stress. International Journal of Stress Management, 14(2), 199-210. doi: 10.1037/1072-5245.14.2.199

Wright, T. A., Cropanzano, R., & Meyer, D. G. (2004). State and trait correlates of job performance: A tale of two perspectives. Journal of Business and Psychology, 18(3), 365-383.

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