Occupational Stress Among Middle-Aged Professionals in India

Excerpts from a study: 40% of the middle-aged professionals reported experiencing minimal levels of occupational stress

Syed Sajid Husain Kazmi, Jyotsana Shukla, Rakesh Kumar Tripathi and S.Z.H. Zaidi | November 2, 2023

#mental illness   #Occupational stress   #psychology  
(Image courtesy: ciphr.com via https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Man_Suffering_from_Stress_at_Work.jpg)
(Image courtesy: ciphr.com via https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Man_Suffering_from_Stress_at_Work.jpg)

[On the occasion of the International Stress Awareness Week, Oct 30- Nov 3, here is an excerpt from a research paper published in ‘Annals of Neurosciences’, which focuses on an important segment of society – middle-aged professionals – and their major concern – occupational stress.]

For the full paper, readers are invited to go to: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/09727531231184299

Kazmi SSH, Shukla J, Tripathi RK, Zaidi SZH. Occupational Stress Among Middle-Aged Professionals in India. Annals of Neurosciences. 2023;0(0). doi:10.1177/09727531231184299

Professional world nowadays is very competitive, and surviving the cutthroat competition while sustaining work-related stress and pressure is an important task for employees. Professionals are required to meet daily and monthly objectives and may encounter work-related stressors.

The study aims to explore occupational stress among middle-aged professionals in the age range of 45–60 years from the marketing, banking, and teaching sectors.

A total sample of 180 consented middle-aged professionals in the age range of 45–60 years from the banking, teaching, and marketing sectors were included in the study using a purposive and snowball sampling technique. Professionals having serious medical or psychiatric conditions and undergoing treatment for the same were excluded. The Occupational Stress Index was administered to assess different types of occupational stressors. The statistical analysis was done using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences version 20 software. A descriptive analysis and a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) were used to get meaningful results.

Results revealed that 40% of the middle-aged professionals reported experiencing minimal levels of occupational stress, followed by 32.2% experiencing moderate levels and 27.8% experiencing high levels of occupational stress. Additionally, it was found that a significantly higher percentage (91.6%) of banking professionals reported low levels of occupational stress compared to their counterparts. Eighty percent of marketing professionals reported experiencing high levels of occupational stress, whereas a majority (73.3%) of teaching professionals reported moderate levels of occupational stress.

Occupational stress with different severity levels is found to be common among middle-aged professionals, which is a risk factor to develop mental health problems and affects well-being. Large-scale primary and secondary interventions are required to manage stress and facilitate professional growth and development in India.

* * *

Occupational stress is a widespread phenomenon that affects individuals in various industries and age cohorts. In line with the current scenario of stress pertaining to roles, responsibilities, and organizational structure, this study attempts to provide a glimpse of occupational stress and its associated domains (role overload, role ambiguity, role conflict, group and political pressure, person responsibility, under participation, powerlessness, poor peer relations, intrinsic impoverishment, low status, strenuous working conditions, and unprofitability) in middle-aged professionals in India. The study was conducted to examine the level of occupational stress and associated stressors among professionals employed in the banking, marketing, and teaching sectors. Professionals in these fields are required to execute their duties under considerable pressure to achieve favorable and beneficial results, which could potentially trigger or prolong work-related stress.

Extant literature has reported that professionals working in various sectors experience higher levels of occupational stress due to various factors. The present study revealed that 27.8% of middle-aged professionals scored higher in occupational stress, while 32.2% experienced a moderate level, and 40% experienced a lower level of occupational stress. Therefore, the first hypothesis, which stated that middle-aged professionals would score high in occupational stress, is accepted. A study done by Gupta (2022) concluded that the level of occupational stress has significantly increased which brought drastic changes in the professional as well as personal life of employees.

People who were employed in India were found to be experiencing the highest levels of occupational stress. Consistent with the existing literature on occupational stress among professionals, the outcome of the present study revealed that 73.3% of teaching professionals and 83.3% of marketing professionals experienced moderate–severe levels of occupational stress, while the majority of the banking professionals (93.3%) experienced a lower level of occupational stress. Therefore, the second hypothesis stated that occupational stress levels would differ among banking professionals, teaching professionals, and marketing professionals, is accepted.

The findings of the present study also revealed that the marketing professionals scored high in role overload (76.6%), role conflict (86.7%), powerlessness (60%), poor peer relations (90%), low status (66.7%), strenuous working conditions (93.3%), and unprofitability (83.3%), whereas they scored moderate in role ambiguity (53.3%), group and political pressure (53.3%), person responsibility (50%), under participation (53.3%), and intrinsic impoverishment (56.7%). Similarly, it has been reported that “lack of clarity and growth,” “work-life imbalance,” “work overload,” “lack of autonomy,” “unachievable targets,” “poor communication system,” and “poor interpersonal relations” are contributing factors to occupational stress in marketing and banking employees.

In the banking sector, 90% of the professionals scored high in intrinsic impoverishment and a moderate level in person responsibility (63.3%), powerlessness (86.7%), poor peer relations (63.3%), and strenuous working conditions (53.3%). Low scores were obtained in other dimensions of occupational stress (role overload (73.3%), role ambiguity (70%), role conflict (90%), group and political pressure (70%), underparticipation (46.7%), low status (70%), and unprofitability (76.7%). The results validate the findings of previous studies.
It was found that the teaching professionals scored high in role ambiguity (90%), group and political pressure (80%), and underparticipation (90%). Moderate levels of scores were obtained in role overload (73.3%), role conflict (60%), intrinsic impoverishment (70%), strenuous working conditions (56.7%), and unprofitability (66.7%). The findings are in sync with Indian literature, which highlights factors of stress as “role overload,” “increased working hours,” “pressure from management,” “interpersonal problems,” and “lack of control over the job.” It was also found that teaching professionals scored low in domains like person responsibility (70%), powerlessness (73.3%), Poor peer relations (53.3%), and Low status (96.7%), which is also supported by extant literature. Hence, the stated hypothesis that occupational stress levels will differ among banking professionals, teaching professionals, and marketing professionals is accepted.

The results of the study further revealed that occupational stress showed a significant difference in mean scores among middle-aged marketing, banking, and teaching professionals. Post-hoc analysis using Tukey’s test for multiple comparisons of mean scores suggested that marketing professionals reported a higher level of stress and its associated stressors as compared to banking and teaching professionals. The findings of the study are consistent with the outcome of a study conducted by McDonald and Korabic (1991), which explored sources of stress and ways of coping among male and female managers. Gender-based implications of the study highlighted that women were more likely than men to report that prejudice, discrimination, tight work, and unnecessary interference in work were dominant predictors of stress. Hence, the stated hypothesis that there will be a significant difference in occupational stress among marketing, banking, and teaching professionals is accepted.

Relying on the traditional organizational setup in India, work-related stress is one of the liminal entities to be taken care of by management and business leaders. The constant negligence of such work-related stressors imposes irreparable repercussions on the mental health and overall well-being of the employees. This study was conducted to investigate the contributing factors for occupational stress among middle-aged professionals from the marketing, banking, and teaching sectors in India. The results of the study indicated that occupational stress was higher among marketing professionals in the domains of role overload, role conflict, powerlessness, poor peer relations, low status, strenuous working conditions, and unprofitability in comparison to banking and teaching professionals.

This study provided a varied perspective on occupational stress by delineating the contributing factors. Addressing these occupational stressors using an individualized and focused intervention plan would promote employee engagement and improve overall occupational health and well-being at the workplace.

[The excerpt reproduced with the permission of Sage Publishers.]
The article was published under the CC-BY-NC licence and all copyright remains with author(s).



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