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Managing stressful situations
02 February 2018
Researchers have developed a new tool which could benefit organisations and their staff by assessing employees’ beliefs about how they manage challenging and stressful situations at work.
Research involving academics at the University of East Anglia’s (UEA) Norwich Business School, the Department of Psychology at Sapienza University of Rome, Uninettuno Telematic International University, and the Centre for Advances in Behavioural Science at Coventry University has resulted in a new tool which could help workers manage their stress in the workplace.
It found that self-efficacy - the belief in one's capabilities to achieve a goal or an outcome - is a key variable for understanding how people manage themselves and their behaviour at work, given its influence on motivation, well-being, and personal achievement and fulfilment.
Employees must not only accomplish tasks but also manage their negative emotions as well as interpersonal relationships. Despite this, self-efficacy has mainly been assessed in relation to job tasks, not emotions and interpersonal aspects.
Results from two studies, involving a total of 2892 Italian employees, provide evidence of the added value of a more comprehensive approach to the assessment of self-efficacy at work. They also suggest the new scale has practical implications for management and staff, for example in recruitment and appraisal processes, as well career development and training.
The findings, published in Journal of Vocational Behavior, show that:
- The more employees perceive themselves as able to manage their tasks and effectively fulfil their goals (task self-efficacy), the better they perform and the less they are likely to misbehave at work;
- The more employees perceive themselves as able to manage their negative emotions in stressful and conflict situations (negative emotional self-efficacy), the less they report physical symptoms and the less they experience negative emotions in relation to their job;
- The more employees perceive themselves as able to understand their colleagues’ moods and states (empathic self-efficacy), the more they are likely to go the extra mile in their working lives and help their colleagues.
The results also showed that when employees have high task self-efficacy but they do not perceive themselves as able to manage negative emotions in stressful and conflictual situations, understand others’ needs and mood, or speak up for their rights and ideas, they undoubtedly perform well in their job but they ‘pay the price’ in terms of well-being.