Occupational Stress and Its Economic Cost in Hong Kong: The Role of Positive Emotions

Oi Ling Siu, Cary L Cooper, Lara Roll, Carol Lo

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Research on the costs of occupational stress attributed to certain job stressors is less explored in Chinese contexts. This study identified and validated common job stressors and estimated the economic cost in Hong Kong. The role of positive emotions in alleviating the economic costs of job stressors was also examined. Both qualitative and quantitative approaches were adopted. The findings obtained from five focus group discussions and a survey validated five common job stressors: job insecurity, quantitative workload, organisational constraints, interpersonal conflicts, and work/home interface. A total of 2,511 employees were surveyed with 2,032 valid questionnaires returned (925 males, 1,104 females, 3 unidentified, ages ranged from 18 to 70 years). The economic costs were estimated by combining the costs of absenteeism, presenteeism and medical expense. Absenteeism mainly caused by job stressors of work/home interface, job insecurity, and quantitative workload accounted for an annual economic cost of HK$550 million to HK$860 million. The annual economic cost due to presenteeism mainly caused by job stressors of job insecurity, interpersonal conflict, quantitative workload, and organisational constraints ranged from HK$1.373 billion to HK$2.146 billion. The cost of medical treatments associated with occupational stress was HK$2.889 billion to HK$4.083 billion. Thus, the total annual economic cost of occupational stress was approximately HK$4.81 billion to HK$7.09 billion. Positive emotions, a less explored individual factor in the cost of occupational stress studies, was found to be negatively correlated with presenteeism; and buffered the negative impact of job stressors on absenteeism. Theoretical contributions and practical implications of findings are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 19 Nov 2020


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