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Title: Stress in turbulent timesAuthors: Ashley Weinberg and Cary CooperPublisher: Palgrave MacmillanPrice: £20.00ISBN: 9780230235601
On picking up this book, I didn’t notice the play-on-words on the front cover: it depicts a pin-striped male doing up an aeroplane seatbelt in anticipation of a bumpy ride.
Useful background is provided with regard to the “turbulent times”: those of the 2008-onwards financial / credit crisis. UK references tended to concentrate on Guardian and BBC sources, which slightly detracted from the attention on the US responsibility / blame for the financial circumstances which prompted the crisis, and in turn, this book. I couldn’t help thinking that it would be useful to have a non-Robert Peston influence in BBC coverage, for example.
As the book moves on, it provides a useful introduction to occupational psychology and an understanding of such things as emotion, physical aspects, thoughts and feelings, where triggers are present, and in this case, where the working environment is likely to be the common trigger. For many of us, recent scenarios enable us to understanding better what might otherwise be purely theoretical concepts.
I had, however, hoped from some real clarity on how to “Get Stress awareness, training, management and risk assessment out there in your organisation – because it matters”. Unfortunately the book was short on the practicalities of managing stress in the workplace.
The authors are clearly experts in their fields. However, the book itself was a letdown in so many ways. The Americanised spelling grated with me. Furthermore, in general, the quality of the text with regard to proof-reading was poor. This detracts from appreciation of an otherwise authoritative text.
Does it have all the answers to be used in a business context? No. If you are looking for quick answers and solutions, this book is not for you – you need to get guidance from the HSE about assessing stress in the workplace.
However, it does give a useful (if academic) background understanding to some of the triggers and thought mechanisms that, if they don’t cause the stress, appear to encourage it when thoughts are internalised and personalised.
If you are interested in an academic discussion about stress and employment in general, then elements of this book will identify general risks and provide a good beginners’ guide. I can see it being a useful text either as core or additional reading in a Masters-level course, but only in the next few years. Give it another boom-and-bust period, and this will be a historical reference text.
Katrina Johnston is group HR manager of Gamma Group