Re: Tech writing and stress

Subject: Re: Tech writing and stress
From: Rose Wilcox <RWILC -at- FAST -dot- DOT -dot- STATE -dot- AZ -dot- US>
Date: Thu, 7 Dec 1995 11:04:00 PST

John Gear wrote the following excellent analysis:

>I think this overlooks most of the research about stress in the workplace.
>If I recall correctly, the most widely accepted model of workplace stress
>suggests that some of the major stressors are

> Too little autonomy (not enough choice about how to do the job)
> Too little role clarity
> Your role not considered important in the organization (too little
> Little or no influence over the final product
> No sense of completion (you don't get to participate in the whole
> you just put the nut on as the thing goes by)

Now, this is convincing me. I was the one who wrote the original post John
Gear responded to, and none of the other responses were cogent compared to
his. I have quit jobs that had the above stressors and I pursue and keep
jobs that provide autonomy, respect, and control over my own work.

Before I read this, I responded to the thread (which was previously called
"Is techwriting increasing?" or something like that) by saying no one had
convinced me that police officers have less stress than tech writers and
then I read ....

>Many people have a model of stress built mainly on TV images. TV shows
>to suggest that anyone who works in an office is, by definition, in a
>low-stress job.

You got me there. I admit scenes from NYPD Blue flashed through my head as
I wrote my most recent post on this thread.... :-)

>And, surprisingly, physical risk is not as high a stressor for many people.
>Many people actually crave the adrenlin rush that such jobs offer and would
>be stressed in a job that never provide that rush now and then. (Not to
>that cops, teachers, and fighter pilots are not stressed--but that the
>research suggests they are most stressed by the same factors as everyone
>else; their stress goes away when the organization responds to ameliorate
>these problems.)

Now this is a convincing argument! However, I still wonder about Post
Traumatic Stress Syndrome and its affects on occupations who are in physical

[snip anecdote of air traffic controllers to prove some like the stress of
making crucial decisions]

>My experience in working and looking into organizations tells me that, for
>many reasons, tech writer can be a very high stress job. Doesn't
>necessarily have to be, but it sure can be. We shouldn't overlook that on
t>his list--if anything we should look at trying to tie compensation to some
>of the *real* stressors in the workplace. Judging by the kinds of
>complaints we see here, many companies have set tech writers up for *lots*
>of stress.

Now, that I can see. I apologize for my "chill pill" remark. When I am in
a company that sets me up for stress like that, I don't stick around. I've
forgotten that not all tech writers are "roving tech writers" like me. Some
like to stay at the same company even though they must endure a corporate
culture that prohibits them from achieving their full potential. I would
tend to say, "buff up that resume and look around". There are plenty of
jobs out there. But, of course, not all folks thrive on the stress of the
job search, either!

Thanks for the interesting analysis, John.

Rose A. Wilcox (the "A" stands for "apology")
rwilc -at- fast -dot- dot -dot- state -dot- az -dot- us (until end of Feb, although the month "April" has
been bandied about by my client)
ncrowe -at- primenet -dot- com (home address for future reference)

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