I/O psychologists are involved in the research and the practice of occupational stress and design of individual and organizational interventions to manage and reduce the stress levels and increase productivity, performance, health and wellbeing.Occupational stress is concerned with physical and psychosocial working conditions (termed stressors) that can elicit negative responses (termed strains) from employees. Occupational stress can have implications for organizational performance because of the emotions job stress evokes. For example, a job stressor such as conflict with a supervisor can precipitate anger that in turn motivates counterproductive workplace behaviors. Job-related hindrance stressors are directly (and challenge stressors inversely) related to turnover and turnover intentions. I/O research has examined the relations among work stressors and workplace aggression, withdrawal, theft, and substance abuse, strategies that individuals use to cope with work stress and prevent occupational burnout, and the relation of work stress to depressive symptoms.
A number of models have been developed to explain the job stress process. Examples of models that have influenced research include the person-environment fit model and the demand-control model. Research has also examined the interaction among personality variables and stressors and their effects on employee strains. I/O psychology is also concerned with the physical health outcomes caused by occupational stress. For instance, researchers at the institute of work psychology (IWP) examined the mediating role of psychological strain in relation to musculoskeletal disorders.
Research has also examined occupational stress in specific occupations. For example, there has been research on job stress in police, teachers, general practitioners, and dentists. Another concern has been the relation of occupational stress to family life. Other research has examined gender differences in leadership style and job stress and strain in the context of male- and female-dominated industries, burnout in the human services and other occupations, and unemployment-related distress. I/O psychology is also concerned with the relation of occupational stress to career advancement.