Sources of stress
IT based projects have to be highly functional, reliable and be completed in relatively short timescales, and so pressure
and responsibility imposed on the individuals working on these kinds of projects can be demanding. Too much workload or
quantitative overload will cause the individual to spend extra time at work, and to rush his or her work. Individuals
faced with too much work tend to jump erratically between separate tasks, thus making the situation worse. The symptoms
of quantitative overload are lowered self-esteem, low work motivation, escapist drinking (Margolis, 1974) and the
introduction of cigarette smoking (French and Caplan, 1972).
Qualitative overload, or work that is too difficult, has also been identified as another key stressor (French and Caplan,
1972). Advances are being introduced so rapidly in IT that often at the end of the training period it is time to re-train.
According to the Manpower Services Commission, “most systems are not being fully utilised because operators lacked effective
training”. This is due to commercial pressures faced by many organisations that reduce training to only a few days of on-site
tuition. Consequently operator skills are either ineffective or become quickly out of date. These factors lead to qualitative
overload, which can give the individual a sense of inadequacy and intimidation, especially using computer systems, that are
difficult to learn, use or understand. This perceived inability to deal confidently with new technology is a possible source
of stress. Apart from radical changes in the organisation’s running to overcome this problem, adaptive user interfaces can
help by adjusting the system to match the operator’s current skill level. As new technology is still in its infancy and the
computer industry is searching for correct methods to complete tasks efficiently, the emphasis on retraining and skill
experience might eventually disappear, so reduce the qualitative overload individuals have to currently face.