Workplace Stress

February 23, 2006

1. The Potential Sources of Workplace Stress :

There are quite few causes of stress. These causes can be categories under three main headings: personal, impersonal (inter-subordinate) and, organisational factors (Vecchio, 2005). In the mentioned case study, it is not possible to relate to the personal or impersonal causes of stress since personalities, relationship between staff was mentioned. Therefore, I will be concentrating only on the organisational factors as follows:

a. The major cause for stress, in this case study, is aggressive sales target in a ambiguous market. I assume, as in the vast majority of real estate brokerage firms, commission represent an important part of the agent’s income. (lucrative 1% -1.5%) Some, not achieving target might have a direct negative impact on his/her income. Ironically, I would blame this cause of stress strongly on role ambiguity. Not only do role ambiguity “refers to the absence of how to perform one’s job” as Vecchio described it but also knowing what goals are and how achieve them (Vecchio, 2005).

b. In their struggle to achieve their management set aggressive targets (hard to reach goals), agents will have to work harder seeing more prospective buyers, distributing more literature, … etc. This might lead to stress and maybe burnout. This potential cause of stress has accelerated characteristics as well. “While life itself has much ambiguity, and we cannot predict many outcomes or personal events, role ambiguity has many of the same emotional results as role conflict. Ambiguity leads to increased emotional tension and to decreased satisfaction with one’s job. It also contributes significantly to a sense of futility and to a loss of self-confidence” (Albert, 2004).

c. Another, Less obvious cause of stress is the manager’s valuation of some real estates/market. For some houses to take that long to sell, i suspect the the houses are over-valued. causing the agents to put-up with frustrating calls from sellers and risk the reputation of the firm.

2. The Key Factors to Manager This Stress:

One of the key factors to manage this stress situation is to balance the stress causes mentioned about as follows :

a. Reduce the ratio of commission to salary by reducing commission on sales. This will not necessarily reduce performance. By balancing the commission/stress factors, a manager might be able to reach an optimal stress level consequently higher performance.

b. Provide the means for achieving targets. For example, entering new markets like industrial commercial real estate instead of just residential.

c. Reduce the individual workload buy grouping into teams of 2 or 3 agents per team. One agent can stay in the office to take calls and follow up while another shows purchasers the real estate. It would also be helpful to rotate member within the team every once in a while.

d. Make sure to correctly valuate real estate or to have a return “You can try other Agency” policy. Yet the manager might want to review his/her legal standing/contracts prior to doing so. This will not only spare his staff the trouble of putting up with angry customers but also improve the reputation of the agency.

Dhari AlRoomi


Albert, Louis (1994) : A Report on Inter-Organisational Communications [Internet],
[ ] (Accessed 2/20/204)

Vecchio, R : Organizational Behavior (2005), P47, Thomson South-Western: UK


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