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Implementing an Organisational Intervention for Work-related Stress : An Action Research Study.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • John E Hamilton
Publication date2016
Number of pages429
Awarding Institution
Place of PublicationLancaster
  • Lancaster University
Electronic ISBNs9780438570887
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This thesis describes an action research study assessing the effectiveness of an organisational intervention for work-related stress incorporating participatory principles. The study, set in the call centre business of a UK utilities company, aimed to contribute evidence of the effectiveness of the HSE Management Standards approach in managing work-related stress. The study developed and utilised a two-stage action research framework that guided the research and intervention design and informed the choice of the research methodology. This approach, comprising macro and micro intervention cycles, collected research data at three intervals over the 12-month timeline. The study deployed mixed methods using process evaluation principles with intervention (n=185) and control groups (n=205). The intervention comprised a stress risk assessment based on the Management Standards, delivered to the intervention group through management training. The results showed that the intervention did not reduce employee work-related stress or improve their psychological wellbeing. The process evaluation indicated that the intervention failed to translate an initial change in attitudes, values and knowledge into meaningful changes in psychosocial working conditions. Exposure to non-work stressors was found to be three times more influential on psychological wellbeing than work stressors, with social support from managers having a protective influence on both work-related stress and psychological wellbeing. The study identified the challenges of implementing an organisational intervention for stress in a dynamic, change-affected working environment with high employee turnover, where the inherent nature of the work inhibits the formation of social support networks. Despite the perceived stressful nature of this setting, the study identified that non-work stressors had a predominant influence on psychological wellbeing. The identification of the importance of social support from managers aligns with findings from previous studies, with this study differentiating between personal support and work support, and the importance of a manager's work knowledge, availability and visibility.

Bibliographic note

Thesis (Ph.D.)--Lancaster University (United Kingdom), 2016.