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Norwich researchers say managing negative emotions plays crucial role in tackling stress at work

The academics' study found employees' emotional health and how well they interacted with colleagues helped their belief in their own effectiveness. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The academics' study found employees' emotional health and how well they interacted with colleagues helped their belief in their own effectiveness. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Brian Jackson

Researchers from Norfolk have helped develop a tool which could help managers identify and tackle stress in their teams.

Norwich Business School (NBS) at the University of East Anglia was among the institutions involved in trials to develop the test to measure people’s self-efficacy – how capable they feel they are of achieving a goal or outcome.

Unlike previous research into work-related stress, the test covers how effective people feel they are at combating negative emotions, at being empathetic and being assertive, as well as their efficacy in completing tasks – which the researchers felt was a crucial but under-explored aspect of people’s approach to work.

The NBS team worked with academics from the Department of Psychology at Sapienza University of Rome, Uninettuno Telematic International University and the Centre for Advances in Behavioural Science at Coventry University to develop the self-efficacy test.

They say results from two studies, involving 2,892 Italian employees, provided evidence of the “added value of a more comprehensive approach” to assessing self-efficacy at work.

The studies found that the better “task”, “emotional” and “empathetic” self-efficacy an employee believed they had – the abilities to effectively fulfil their goals, manage negative emotions in stressful situations, and understand their colleagues’ moods – the better their performance, behaviour, support for colleagues and mental attitudes towards their work were likely to be.

Its findings could also have implications in recruitment, appraisal processes, and career development and training.

Co-author of the study Dr Roberta Fida, lecturer in organisational behaviour at Norwich Business School, said: “The results of this research showed the importance of considering the relationship between the different self-efficacy beliefs and how they combine with each other. This helps us to understand how individuals organise their capabilities to fulfil their goals and manage themselves in challenging and demanding situations.

“By using the scale, management and human resources may gain an all-round understanding of their employees over the course of their career, and may assess and monitor individuals’ beliefs in relation to different self-regulatory capabilities.”

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