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Bowen, P, Edwards, P, Lingard, H and Cattell, K (2014) Workplace Stress, Stress Effects, and Coping Mechanisms in the Construction Industry. Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, 140(03).

  • Type: Journal Article
  • Keywords: Stress; Effects; Coping mechanisms; Construction management; Personnel management; Labor and personnel issues;
  • ISBN/ISSN: 0733-9364
  • URL: https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)CO.1943-7862.0000807
  • Abstract:
    Many construction professionals experience high levels of stress. Workplace stress leads to psychological, physiological, and sociological strain effects. Sufferers adopt different coping mechanisms in attempts to mitigate their condition. Using an online survey, opinions were sought from architects, civil engineers, quantity surveyors, and project and construction managers in South Africa. The contribution of the research reported in this paper lies in its examination of the work stress experienced by construction professionals in a developing country characterized by economic hardship and social problems, such as inequality and crime. Most respondents experience high levels of stress at work. Architects (more than engineers, quantity surveyors, and project and construction managers) and female (more than male) professionals feel stressed. Psychological effects of workplace stress include the feeling of not being appreciated by others for a job well-done, feeling dissatisfied with one’s own performance at work, and feeling tense at work. Physiological effects include disturbances to usual sleep patterns, difficulty in relaxing after hours, and difficulty in concentrating. Sociological effects include a strain on family life, social activities, and social relationships. A wide range of positive coping mechanisms (or countermeasures) is reported, including physical exercise in addition to intellectual and cultural activities. From a negative-coping perspective, consumption of alcohol is widespread, with more than one-third of respondents consuming 3–9 units/week. One in six respondents report smoking of up to 40 cigarettes/day, whereas use of narcotics (such as marijuana, cocaine, mandrax, ecstasy, heroin, and methamphetamine) at least once in the previous 12 months is reported by 1 in 20. A duty-of-care ethos suggests that appropriate and carefully targeted stress-management strategies should be implemented by organizations within the construction industry. Further research is recommended to explore the effectiveness of organizational and personal stress-management interventions.