Stress in the Workplace
Are some people more affected by it than others are?
Some people are better than others are at being able to tell whether their body is running at a faster or slower pace. For example, some people are better than others are at noticing how fast their heart is beating. These types of differences among people are referred to as individual differences in autonomic feedback. Researchers at Ohio State University and Erasmus University recently investigated whether such differences are important for people who work in stressful work environments.
Surveys were sent to salespeople at 23 Dutch manufacturing, servicing, or wholesaling companies. A total of 194 surveys were returned and used in the study.
The findings confirmed the expectations of the researchers. Individual differences in autonomic feedback did matter for people who worked in stressful workplaces. Those who were more able to notice autonomic feedback experienced more burnout, demonstrated poorer performance on certain types of job performance, and expressed more negative job attitudes than did those who were less able to notice autonomic feedback. Furthermore, the more that the workplace was stressful, the more that individual differences in autonomic feedback mattered.
In other words, for a variety of reasons, people who work in stressful environments seem to be better off if they are not very good at noticing autonomic feedback.
Source: Klein, D. J., & Verbeke, W. (1999). Autonomic feedback in stressful environments: How do individual differences in autonomic feedback relate to burnout, job performance, and job attitudes in salespeople? Journal of Applied Psychology, 84, 911-924.