All About Job Strain and Job Strain Management

Job strain can result from stress caused by high demands and low control at work; there are steps you can take to manage that stress. Cultura RM/Jason Butcher/ Getty Images


Job strain is caused by two main factors:

  • High demands and pressures at work
  • Low latitude, decision-making power, or control in meeting those demands

Job strain is distinct from job stress, but the two are related. While job stress generally refers to the demands at work that we experience as stressful, job strain refers to the negative physical and psychological toll that job stress takes on us when our jobs involve high demands and we have little decision-making power.

These are two of the main risk factors for job burnout and have been found to be particularly stress-inducing in other situations in life as well. Job strain has been linked with several adverse health conditions in both women and men. Restructuring a job to create more decision-making control has been shown to reduce job strain without changing the level of work completed.

If you're not in the position to alter your job in this way, the following resources can help you with job strain:

Karasek, R. A. Job Demands, Job Decision Latitude, and Mental Strain: Implications for Job Redesign. Administrative Science Quarterly, Jun79, 24(2).

Specter, P.; Chen, P.; and O'Connell, B. (April 2000). A longitudinal study of relations between job stressors and job strains while controlling for prior negative affectivity and strains. Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol 85(2), Apr, 2000. pp. 211-218.

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