The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work considers stress and quality of life as emerging. One of the first issues they prioritize mainly as a psychosocial risk is the changing world of work. We went to investigate if ‟job contract” (traditional/atypical) increases levels of stress. The purpose of this study was to identify the possible relationships between individual and organizational aspects of work (self-efficay, engagement, autonomy and satisfaction) and levels of stress in two categories of individuals, traditional and atypical workers, in order to emphasize probable differences, and to increase the efficacy at work aims to re-balance, when necessary, a condition of psycho- physical well-being. The results showsignificant differences. In fact, our findings obtained show different values: self-efficacy relates negatively to stress, which in turn relates negativly to engagement. The study must be considered as a preliminary assessment for a study of broader intervention to increase quality of life.
Keywords: Work; psychology; healtwell being; organization
The insecurity situations arising from organizational dynamics (such as restructuring,
internationalization and, not least, new types of contract) - are emerging as important sources of stress
level: organizational, group and individual, often transforming the work place in an enviroment which
is hostile and above all extremely demanding from a psychological aspect (De Cuyper & De Witte,
2010). The great transformations in the last decade have affected life and work contexts, prompting
people to rethink life project, values and beliefs (Santisi, Patanè, & Ramaci, 2010). Indeed, sometimes
the abuse of flexibility has inevitably led to the configuration of a work place marked by predominantly
"precarious" working life and consequently also the personal life (Salmieri, 2009). Flexibility, such as
new contractual forms have helped to reshape the relationship between individual and work experience,
changing the significance and centrality of work. Traditional and permanent contracts are being
replaced more and more by boundless working experiences (Ramaci, Alario, & Santisi, 2014).
Research shows the inverse correlation between job flexibility and well-being (Howard, 1995;
Barling, Weber, & Kelloway, 1996; Gowing, Kraft, & Campbell Quick, 1998; Hesselink & Van
Vuuren, 1999; De Witte, 1999; Kinnunen, Mauno, Naetti, & Happonen, 1999; Mohr, 2000; Sverke &
Hellgren, 2002; Isaksson & Bellagh, 2002; Santisi & Ramaci, 2012). Flexibility has become a negative
experience, precariousness and organizational disease (Danna & Griffin, 1999). Data explain
particularly negative effects, especially in minority groups (eg., youth, women, adult and temporary
workers) (Silla, De Cuyper, Gracia, Peiro, & De Witte, 2009; Ferrari & Veglio, 2006) which
experience, more than other workers, great difficulties to manage their careers (Parasuraman, Purohit,
Godshalk, & Beutell, 1996; Ilies, Schwind, & Heller, 2007), satisfy their professional ambitions (Hill,
Hawkins, Ferris, & Weitzman, 2001) and increase their quality of life reducing psychological stress.
We start by describing the evidence that flexibility benefits a person and leads to healthier
outcomes. This includes satisfaction, positive emotions, and autonomy (Pellerone, Passanisi, &
Bellomo, 2015; Sheldon, Cummins, & Khamble,
we need to enlighten how we define atypical work, opposed to traditional, "job satisfaction", stress and
work engagement. We mean by "traditional" any kind of work relationship regulated by a permanent
contract, while by "atypical" all of those who belong to the following groups: temporary workers, in -
training employees, project workers and occasional labours, regulated by temporary contract of
employment (Connelly & Gallagher,2004). Stress has been implicated as a cause of several
psychosomatic disorders (Aronsson & Göransson, 1999; Craparo, Gori, Mazzola, Petruccelli,
Pellerone, & Rotondo, 2014). First introduced by (Selye, 1956), the term stress is now widely used to
describe a state of physical and psychological tension with special features in the modern daily life. A
general theoretic framework, based on a bio psycho-social model of stress, includes environmental
parameters and individual processes of perception and coping with stressors. The state of stress
depends on the interaction between an individual’s environment and his representation (Pellerone,
Craparo, & Tornabuoni, 2016). Stress may have a role in the quality of life and well being (Blandini,
Fecarotta, Buscemi, & Ramaci, 2015; Saks, 2006). The concept of "work engagement" has recently
emerged. This is understood as the ability of individuals to act in order to follow the interests of the
organization while feeling engaged and distressed (Platania, Santisi, Magnano, & Ramaci, 2014).
“Engagement” has been defined as a positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind that is characterized
by vigor, dedication, and absorption (Schaufeli, Salanova, & González-Romá, 2002). Not only work
engagement is a positive experience in itself, but it also seems related to good health, positive work
outcomes, perceptions of self-efficacy and work performance (Schaufeli & Bakker, 2004), lower work
stress (Britt, Castro, & Adler, 2005) and well-being (Saks, 2006; Bellini, Ramaci, & Bonaiuto, 2015).
The concept of work satisfaction has occupied a prominent place in work psychology. Locke (1976)
reports that over 3.300 articles have been compiled on this topic. Researches show that work
satisfaction is also related to work attitudes: work satisfaction affects worker's productivity (Perie &
Baker 1997), absenteeism, turnover (Brunetti, 2001), and hence organizational effectiveness work. It
may have serious consequences for the well-being (Bardasi & Francesconi, 2004), of the individual in
terms of physical and mental health, and satisfaction with life. Job dissatisfaction leads to stress and
ultimately to burnout if allowed to continue unabated (Argentero, Dal Corso, & Vidotto, 2006).
Recently, the attention of the researchrs has related to the positive aspects and subjective feelings
concerning the perception of the quality of life, personal satisfaction, self-esteem, distress, sense of
belonging, self-efficacy and quality of social relationships (Diener, 1984; Santisi & Ramaci, 2012), that
can contribute to improving health conditions and reducing psychological levels of stress.
“Insecurity” in the workplace is associated to contractual arrangements and to flexibility, based on a
relation between "flexibility and insecurity". The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work
considers stress and quality of life as emerging. It is the issue they prioritize when speaking about a
psycho-social risk is the changing world of work. The word "precarious" is often used to connote both
mobility by making up the employment relationship and the feeling of insecurity for their own work
situation. In the literature, on the other hand, has been introduced only recently, the distinction between
"objective" and "subjective" working safety (De Witte & Näswall, 2003): the first, more concrete and
objective type, regards the mobile / flexible forms of employment contract; the other, more intangible
and subjective refers to the perceptions and experiences which the employees feel in the workplace
(Lozza, Graffigna, & Bosio, 2009). The work is undoubtedly a fundamental aspect in the life of each
individual, however, it can also be exhausting and debilitating, and it can lead to feelings of stress and
possible psychophysical duress. Researchers define a negative psychological condition of the worker
which has a situation of mental and physical exhaustion (Guglielmi, Paplomatas, Simbula, & Depolo,
2007; Schaufeli & Enzmann, 1998; Schaufeli, Leiter, Maslach, & Jackson, 1996; Schaufeli & Salanova,
2007). Nonetheless the work can also make people feel satisfied, full of energy, and thus developing
feelings of engagement. Finally, when it comes to organizational well-being it cannot be in line with
what is the sense of satisfaction and happiness that people feel toward one's own life. Therefore, there
are strong ties between the construct of well-being and concepts of happiness, satisfaction, health and
quality of life (Platania, Santisi, Magnano, & Ramaci, 2014). Researchers have, however, concentrated
mostly on the conditions that relate to the discomfort with the consequent disorders, rather than on
factors that may instead be encouraged to stimulate individuals (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007; Bakker,
Demerouti, & Schaufeli, 2003; Bakker, Demerouti, & Verbeke, 2004).
Purpose of the study
Starting from these premises the present study considers level of stress as a key variable to explain
relationship with job satisfaction, work engagement and self efficacy in order to improve the quality of
life. The study builds on and extends the previous research considering the role of the organizational
context and in particular stress disorders of workers while they are in workspace. It distinguishes two
categories of individuals, traditional and atypical workers, in order to emphasize possible differences
and increase conditions of psycho-well-being. Data are analyzed with multivariate methods that
enabled to statistically control organizational variables. The participants were personally informed
about the nature and purpose of the study. All the analyses were carried out using SPSS software
package. Therefore, the following hypotheses are proposed:
Hypothesis 1: Stress relates negatively to self-efficacy
Hypothesis 2: Stress relates negatively to Organizational engagement
Hypothesis 3: Levels of stress correlate with experiences of satisfaction at work
In the analysis were considered the following factors: - Gender. It is known that the working
conditions of men and women is considerably different, and therefore have different experiences and
emotions; - The type of contract which the worker is engaged to: typical (or permanent contract) or
atypical (other kind of contract).
A total of 40 participants, chosen through a random selection process, completed an anonymous
self-report questionnaires. The participants were Italian employees (45.0 males, 55.0 females), aged
ranging from 28 to 59 years (M=41.68; SD=7.39). Schooling: high school (72.5%) and graduate
(27.5%). Twenty-two subjects belonged to the traditional contract and eighteen were atypical workers.
On average the workers have a good experience (14 years at work; SD=8.00) but with a large range
from few month of work up to 35 years. In general 21.1% of workers have 5 or less years of experience.
They work on average for 7 hours per day (SD=1.81). The respondents are mostly employees (60%)
only 7.5% are in managerial position. The others are blue collars (12.5%) and consultants (20%) (see
For the research we used the following measures:
a) MSP - The Psychological Stress Measure (Lemyre & Tessier, 1988, ad. it. Di Nuovo, Rispoli, &
Genta, 2000), an instrument designed to measure stress by evaluating subjective feelings of stress
without referring to "stress" or "stressors." It is designed using 49 items drawn from descriptors
generated by focus groups on stress. Respondent checks the answer that best indicates the degree to
which each statement has applied to him/her recently. The choice of answer is made on a scale (like
Likert) and result in a range from 1 (null) to 4 (much). A final comprehensive score was generated by a
dedicated software. Coefficient alpha reliabilities for scales was .95.
b) UWES - Utrecht Work Engagement Scale of Schaufeli and Bakker (Seppälä, Mauno, Feldt,
Hakanen, Kinnunen, Tolvanen, & Schaufeli, 2008, ad..it. Balducci, Fraccaroli, & Schaufeli, 2010). It is
an instrument designed to measure the engagement such as psychological condition associated with
the job, positive and satisfactory. Work engagement Scale is an instrument consisting of 17 items, to
seven points, as ever (=0) for each day (= 6)., which measure the three basic dimensions of work
commitment : vigor, dedication and absorption. Scores were obtained by averaging the responses of the
participants, the highest average scores reflect higher levels of engagement. Coefficient alpha
reliabilities for scale was .94.
c) The Personal Efficacy Scale (EPOP) and Collective Efficacy Scale (ECOP) at work (Caprara,
2001). Two scales, each one consist of six items that measure the perception as individual (EPOP) and
as team (ECOP) to successfully master the critical demands from work situations. The subjects are
asked to indicate their level of agreement on a scale of 7 positions (1= strongly disagree, 7 = strongly agree).Coefficient alpha reliabilities for scales was .75 and .89.
d) Job satisfaction subscale (as referred to in the OSI) - Occupational Stress Indicator (Cooper,
Sloan, & Williams, ad. it. Sirigatti & Stefanile, 2002) is a test to detect a broad spectrum of
psychosocial stress in the organization. The section refers what do they think, how they feel towards
their work: measuring job satisfaction and welfare at work. Each item (22) was rated on a 6-point
response scale, from strongly satisfaction (= 0) to strong dissatisfaction (= 6). Coefficient alpha
reliabilities for scale was .96.
e) Socio-demographic and school achievement of employees were obtained as well. In the last
part of the questionnaire, participants provided information on the usual socio-demographic
characteristics, such as gender (a dummy variable, 1=male and 2= female); age; work contract,
organizational tenure (six categories, from one year to over sixteen years). For practical purpose the
global score will be considered in the result section and discussion. Differences between workers are
analysed using Students’ t tests, Manova (Multivariate Analysis of Variance) and Spearman
Descriptive statistics of Psychological Stress Measure (MSP), work satisfaction (OSI), work
engagement (UWES) are presented in Table
Before analyzing the correlations between the levels of perceived stress and the evaluations of other
organizational characteristics: engagement on the one hand, and satisfaction and efficacy to the other,
let us take a quick look at what emerges. The subgroup of atypical workers shows lower MSP scores in
all case, even if differences do not affect MSP significant response except for cluster
Psychophysiological sensations (p=0,046 t=-1,274) and Pain and physical problems (p=0.049 t=-
1,028). Gender shows statistical differences for cluster
job area (Industry, Education, Services and Health-care).
(p=0.030 t=- 483) and for interpersonal relationships (SR) results show statistically differences for
gender. SS and SP for
differences for the variable traditional or atypical contract. The results of the multivariate analysis of
variance, using work autonomy and work contract as correlated independent variables and stress level
as the dependent variable, yielded significant differences between workers on the omnibus multivariate
test. In all cases autonomy increased on- the - job, stress decreased [MANOVA (F (6, 25) = 5.21 p =
0.001]. Follow-up univariate F-
clusters stress II [F(6,25) = 3.339, p =0.024], III [F(6,25) = 3.304, p =0.025], IV [F(6,25) = 4.976, p
=0.004] and V [F(6,25) =3.069, p =0.033].
The correlation analysis between the measures used for the study are presented in Table
The results show positive linear correlation, statistically significant, between engagement, stress
and the Personal Efficacy Scale at work (EPOP). In fact, our findings obtained show different values:
personal self-efficacy relates negatively to stress, which in turn relates negatively to engagement
(VI=Vigor and DE=Dedication).More specifically: Lost control-irritability, Depressive Anxiety and
Pain and Physical problems are correlate with significant level (.05) with VI; effort and confusion level
highly significant (.01). The last one relates negatively to DE (.05). Data indicates also a negative
correlation with highly significant level between EPOP and Lost control, irritability and Effort and
confusion (.01); same direction but not highly significant (.05) Psychophysiological sensation,
Depressive Anxiety, Pain and physical problems. No significant correlation is found between MSP vs
Satisfaction global score and The Collective Efficacy Scale (ECOP) at work. Last, the perception of
stress levels (cluster Depressive Anxiety and Pain and physical problems) is positively correlated with
gender (.05); and negatively with type of contract only for cluster IV (.05). In general, the study
confirmed the main hypotheses I, II, which stated that there is direct correlation between Stress and
self-efficacy and negatively to Organizational engagement. In summary, our third hypothesis is not
confirmed for the level of stress correlate and experiences of satisfaction at work.
Traditionally, positive emotions, satisfaction, efficacy and autonomy have been seen as the
cornerstones of psychological health. The research aimed to explore the influence of "work contract"
on the increment of the frequency of levels of stress in temporary workers. In all cases the obtained
results show significant differences in order to the measurement of job satisfaction, work engagement,
psychological stress and the self and team perception, to successfully master the critical demands from
work situations. In fact, our findings show different values: self-efficacy relates negatively to stress,
which in turn relates negatively to work commitment. The results also indicate that
is conditioned by job contract (although statistical significance is not high), and support the conclusion
that there are stronger job characteristics than other background variables, which have influence on
satisfaction and on stress levels; and in this sense, autonomy seems to be generalized through these
features. The present study must be considered as a preliminary assessment for a study of broader
intervention to increase quality of life at work. Research findings provide insight into the nature,
correlates, and consequences of psychological flexibility and applied research provides details on
promising interventions. Throughout, we consider a good practice a periodical repetition of the
research in order to alleviate amount of stress and to increase the efficacy at work aims to re-balance,
when necessary, a condition of psycho- physical well-being.
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Ramaci, T., Iacolino, C., & Pellerone, M. (2016). Stress-related diseases: significant influence on the quality of life at workplaces. In Z. Bekirogullari, M. Y. Minas, & R. X. Thambusamy (Eds.), Cognitive - Social, and Behavioural Sciences - icCSBs 2016, May, vol 8. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 29-38). Future Academy. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2016.05.4