La 11ème conférence de l’European Academy of Occupational Health Psychology a lieu du 14 au 16 avril 2014 à Londres. Son thème est Looking at the past – planning for the future: Capitalizing on OHP multidisciplinarity. Hazem BEN AISSA y présentera What does workload really mean for executives: An exploratory analysis (en coll. avec Narjes Sassi), le 16 avril 2014:
As stress and burnout have become major concerns in organizations, considerable research has tried to identify factors – individual or organizational – that cause these psycho sociological risks. Among the organizational factors, workload seems to be the most important stressor that damages employee well-being and reduces performance (Cooper, 2009). While this stressor is fairly common, research points out some ambiguities about its components and definition (Jex, 1998, Spector, et al., 1988). Thus, the objective of this paper is to address this neglected area of workload research and further understanding of its components and specificities.
It appears from the literature that this issue has not yet been adequately clarified with regards to two major points: Firstly, the extent to which actual workload corresponds to what is formal and prescribed in the employment contract, and how this is perceived by employees. However, studies dissociate mostly between these three levels of workload and measures deal predominantly with either one or another of these components.
Secondly, measures to evaluate workload include three dimensions: working time, hardness (physical and mental) and relations with others. These dimensions are not always adequate to understand workload with specific occupations, e.g. Executives. This occupational category is submitted to a management skills model which encourages individual performance and enhanced competence development and competitiveness. In this context, the traditional workload measure may be inoperative as it doesn’t tackle performance pressure.
In regard to these issues, this paper aims to contribute to a better definition of perceived workload by Executives and to develop a more accurate measure. To reach these goals, and in accordance with Churchill’s paradigm (1979) the first step of this study involves exploratory research. Thus, 22 interviews were conducted with 22 executives working in companies that adopt a management skills model. The data was analysed using “contact summary sheets” (Miles & Huberman, 1994).
The results provided insights about the composition of workload among Executives. They reported that their workload was both increased and extended, leading to a more complex perceived workload. Significantly, complexity was shaped by the attempt to which Executives try to maintain their performance level while adapting to the organizational constraints. Consequently, four dimensions were found to grasp the meaning of this stressor; time pressure, work hardness, work partners requirements, and competence pressure.
These first results will be followed by an ongoing step of items generation that will be submitted for peer and expert validation.