Coping strategies of Male and Female Employees in Private Industries


Prof. Dileep Kumar M.
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Stress is an unavoidable consequence of modern living. With the growth of industries, pressure in the urban areas, quantitative growth in population and various problems in day-to-day life are some of the reasons for increase in stress. Stress is a condition of strain that has a direct bearing on emotions, thought process and physical conditions of a person. Stress has both positive and negative consequences. Positive stress is called  'eustress' and negative stress is called 'distress'. Eustress is beneficial as it encourages going ahead against hindrances. Excessive amount of stress leads to distress. Helplessness, desperation, disappointment, etc. contribute to distress. Certain environmental, maturational and intra-psychic events can invite the stress responses. Each stage of this response has associated cognitive, affective and physiological components. Failure to perceive, interpret or cope with stress provoking stimuli may have serious patho-physiological consequences. By adapting stress management measures, it is possible to control the harmful consequences of stress. The term coping is used to indicate a person's efforts to prevent, reduce or eliminate stress or stressful events. These efforts may be adaptive or mal-adaptive.

Review of literature

Coping is a process of managing the external or internal demands that are perceived by the individual as taxing or exceeding his or her resources. The task of coping is to tolerate or adjust to adverse events and situations and to reduce the harmful environmental conditions. Coping helps the individual to maintain a positive self-image and maintain emotional balance, and to continue satisfying relationships with others (Lazarus and Folkman, 1984).

Leo Golberger and Shlomo Breznats (1972). Suggest that there are different concepts regarding the process of coping, which include
1.  Appraisal focus coping 
2.  Problem focus coping.
3.  Emotion focus coping.

The strategy include in the appraisal focus coping include:
1.  Logical analysis.
2.  Cognitive redefinition.
3.  Cognitive avoidance.

The problem-focused coping is based on three stages- that involves:
1. Seek information or advice.
2. Take problem-solving action.
3. Develop alternative reward.

The emotion focused coping include responses whose primary function is to manage the emotions aroused by the stress and maintain an equilibrium which include:
1. Effective regulation efforts to control emotion.
2. Emotional discharge crying, smoking.
3. Resigned acceptance deciding nothing can be changed the things.

Lazarus (1966) defined the term coping broadly to "Efforts to manage environmental and internal demands and conflicts among demands." This is an art exerted by individuals to manage the stress, which include thoughts, emotions, and feelings that lead him to action. Coping behaviour is a major component in the relationship between the experience of stress and adaptational outcomes such as poor psychological health and physical symptoms (Aldwin and Revenson, 1987; Billings and Moos, 1981; Collins and Singer, 1983; Folkman and Lazarus, Gruen and De Longis, 1986, Pearlin and Schooler, 1978).

It has been increasingly acknowledged that health outcomes are a product of effective coping rather than simply a consequence of the presence or absence of stress (Antonovsky, 1979; Henry and Stephans, 1977; Roskies and Lazarus, 1980). Coping efforts serve to either manage or alter the person-environment relationship that is serving as the source of stress or to regulate stressful emotions.

Pearlin and Schooler (1978) stated, "Coping is the behaviour that protect people from being psychologically harm by social experience." Ross Rendall and Altamaier (1964) define coping as the cognitive and behavioural efforts that a person makes to manage the demands of a stressor." The might occur when we seek information about what need to be done to change our own behaviour or problems of the environment. Coping is defined as "Constantly changing cognitive and behavioural efforts to mange specific external and internal demands that are appraised as taxing or exceeding the resources of the person."(Lazarus and Folkman, 1984).

Coping behaviour comprises a hugely diverse number of cognitive and/ or behavioural activities (Cohen, Humberg, and Adams, 1974). Mitchell, Crankite and Moos (1983) defined coping as the cognitions and behaviour that people use to modify adverse aspect of their environment as well as to minimise the potential threat arising from such aspects. Individuals who master the behavioural and cognitive techniques report less tension and fewer sleep disturbances and an improved ability to cope with workplace stressors (Parkes, 1990).

Holroyd and Lazarus (1967), indicates that "Coping affects the health outcomes by influencing the frequency, intensity, and the neuro-endocrine stress responses. This may occur in three ways: By preventing stressful events from occurring or enabling the individual to avoid or resolve difficulties that do occur.

Following bio-feedback, successfully treated headache patients report dramatic changes in the ways they manage headache related stresses, such as more assertive behaviour, rational evaluation of headache related stresses, and avoidance of situations that had previously elicited headache (Andrasik and Holroyd, 1980).

Situational factors, personality characteristics, cultural practices and preferences and cognitive appraisal are just some of the many factors, which can influence the coping process, and the way it is conceptualised (Aldwin and Revenson, 1987). Moos and Billings (1982), indicates  "Problem- focused coping may involve modifying or eliminating the source of stress, dealing with the tangible consequence of the problem or actively changing the self so as to develop a more satisfactory situation."

Stress can lead to physical disorders and health problems like heart diseases, ulcers, arthritis, etc., and psychological problems like mood changes, inferiority complex, widespread resentment, job dissatisfaction, behavioural problems, production turnover and accidents. There are coping strategies that can be applied to help in reducing the existing stress. Since stress is a part of every one's life, learning to deal with it positively, provides great advantage. 



The population selected for this particular study is employees of two private sector industries in Trichur and Ernakulam districts of Kerala.


The sampling population of this research includes 200 employees of nationalised and non-nationalised bank in Trichur and Ernakulam district, of Kerala. Out of which, 100 employees from Trichur and remaining 100 from Ernakulam.  This research followed the systematic random sampling method representative population. The population belongs to an age group of 35-45 belongs to the middle level male and female mangers were selected for the study. 100 middle level male managers and 100 middle level female were subjected to study.

Tool of data collection

A multi dimensional analysis of job coping patterns of employees is the primary focus of this research. The questionnaire consists of four cub variables of coping strategies (Shilendra singh (1990). The variables selected for the study are: -
1.  Active problem solving
2.  Constructive deferred problem solving
3.  Directional work approach
4.  Information seeking


1. To analyze the coping strategies of male and female employees in private sector organisation.

1. Female employees have high coping behaviour compared to male employees in private sector organisation.

Operational definitions


The term coping is defined as any response to life strain that serves to prevent, avoid or control emotional distress.

Active Problem Solving

It is a coping strategy where the focal person considers several alternatives for handling problems and immediate notions are taken on the basis of past experience and present understanding of the situations. The coping process is pro-active by utilizing the time efficiency and by securing guidance from competent people.

Directional Work Approach

Directional work approach are those activities of talking to relevant person about the problem and setting priorities of work and making plans and following them and taking assignments on by one.

Constructive Deferred Problem Solving

The constructive deferred problem solving is coping strategy-involving stepping back from the decision-making situation and try to be objective. It also involves taking a brake from the work and get refreshed or attends to routine work so that difficulties and tasks can be attended to after relaxation.

Information Seeking

Information seeking involves mental and emotional preparation by seeking information from other sources before facing the problem or making a decision.

Analysis and Results

Table: 1

Mean, SD and t-values of coping scores of respondents with respect to gender

Sl No.













Total coping








** indicates significance at 0.01 level

The table (no.1) indicates that the female employees have high mean score (86.97) in relation to coping behaviour of employees compared to male employees (68.23) in private sector, in this particular research.

Table: 2

Mean, SD and t- values of coping scores of respondents with respect to different coping dimensions



















































The above table (no.2) indicate that among the selected coping dimensions Active Problem Solving has the highest mean value among female and male (37.57 and 34.83 respectively. This is followed by Directional Work Approach (23.57 & 20.77), Constructive Deferred Problem Solving  (9.94 & 9.25) and Information Seeking (3.87 & 3.38) respectively.

Major findings

1. There is significant difference in the coping behaviour female and male employees.
2. Coping behaviour is found higher among female employees compared to male employees
3. Among different Coping behaviour variables Active problem solving and Constructive deferred problem solving are the strategies both female and male employees adopting in this particular research.


This section incorporates a short discussion, on the major two coping behaviour, widely recognised in the research finding.

The finding of present research is in line with the hypothesis stated above. The hypothesis stated that Stress would be higher among female employees compared to male employees in private sector industries. The findings of the present research accept the research hypothesis, as it observed significant difference between the male and female employees in the level of coping. The findings clearly indicate that coping is higher among non- female employees compared to male employees. The analysis of coping among male and female employees indicates that in both sectors the Active problem solving and Constructive Deferred Problem Solving is the major coping strategies the male and female middle level managers are adopted as their strategies to cope up with the problem.

The discussion here is in line with the significant variable selected for the study. This indicates that male and female middle level managers consider several alternatives for handling problems. The decision-making is based on the past experiences and present understanding of the problems. The available opportunities are well studied and solution is based on information from all the sources. The style of coping strategy is problem-focussed coping. Moos and Billings (1982), "Problem- focused coping may involve modifying or eliminating the source of stress, dealing with the tangible consequence of the problem or actively changing the self so as to develop a more satisfactory situation." The finding well establishes that fact that the female members have high appreciation to look problems at multi facet angle and select best solution based on rational emotive decision. It shows higher coping initiatives of female employees compared to male employees. The female employees have proactive attitude utilizing the time efficiency by securing guidance from competent people. The male employees in the private sector are less open to information seeking behaviour though they accept this strategy as best in the contingency situation. This indicates the difference in the level of inhibition among male and female employees in private sector, in seeking information from others in the problem solving process.

The second coping strategy well recognised by the male and female employees in private sector is Directional work approach. This indicates that male and female employees are interested in talking to relevant person about the problem and setting priorities of work and making plans and following them and taking assignments on by one. Getting right direction from better source indicates a culture seeking behaviour where members aspire to get a collaboration culture. There are senior level people in the organisation who have adequate experience in handling such kind of problems in their past. These experiences are unique to senior level members and such sources can be explored to get proper solution to resolve the crisis. This also related to human attitude to dependency. Higher the dependency behaviour higher the directional work approach in the coping mechanism. This finding indicates further that the female managers are keener to get directional help from different sources compared to male members, in private sector organisation. This shows female members keenness and high initiative to resolve the issues more rationally by getting right information and support in their functional level.  Acceptance of the lack of knowledge and skill is more acknowledged by the female members in their problem solving initiative, without wasting time and energy, compared to female members in this research. Once again the study recognise the problem solving coping strategies of male and female members in their attempt to resolve the issues.


Low-level coping may leads to

1. High-tension anxiety frustration and irritation like minor ailments.
2. High Blood pressure, stomach disorders, heart diseases etc.
3. Behavioural problems
4. Person-position mismatch at functional level.
5. Career options and advancement are limited.
6. High level absenteeism, job dissatisfaction and labour turn over,
7. Increased frequency of drinking and smoking.
8. Lower productivity
9. Poor decision making and leadership.
10. Low motivation to work


To help members in coping mechanism, more effort on the part of policy makers, practitioners, and organizational management envisaged. The author, there by making a few effort to suggest some effective measures, that can improve coping strategies of employees that lead to better adjustment within the organisation. They can be detailed as follows:

1. Encourage better interpersonal relationship and social relationship at work
2. More openness at work where there is cross functional sharing
3. High collaboration and confrontation culture at work
4. Encourage self managed teams
5. Induce more trust and confidence on the members
6. More supervisory support from the top management
7. Free flow of information across the hierarchical level.
8. Encourage the work value dependency
9. Encourage proactive behaviour than reactive behaviour
10. Encourage the cross-functional and interdepartmental work arrangements
11. Redesign jobs which are taxing to employees abilities and capacities
12. Encourage multi skilling, variety and job rotation
13. Awareness, commitment and involvement by all levels of staff
14. Employees are encouraged to voice their concerns
15. Professional assistance on work projects
16. Support networks for employees in times of changes
17. Undertake stress audit at all levels in the organization
18. Extent the counseling practices at employee family/professional level
19. Encourage experimentation work culture and support to failures
20. Training on stress management


Organisational stress is common in the wake of globalisation, liberalisation and modernisation process across industries. Making provision of better climate and culture is the support members expected from the top management in the changing organisational scenarios. Better-adjusted and mentally alert employees are the asset to any organisation. They are required to face the challenges in the turbulent business environment. Instead of confusion, more trust and confidence to be inculcated to the employees at all levels. The organisations should give more importance to the industrial counselling and culture instilling process. These finding are based on a short research and it doesn't incorporate the socio demographic and bio-socio variable for the analysis. Among which there is high importance to the biosocial variables like minor and major ailments. The researchers who are interested to do further research can establish the relationship between stress, ailments and coping strategies. The author expects to draw attention from policy makers and men of eminence in the related fields and resume further research.

References and Bibliography

1 Anderson, C. R. (1976). "Coping behaviors as intervening mechanisms in the inverted U-Stress performance relationship." Journal of applied Psychology, 61,30-34.

2 Allanofillay & House, R.J. (1969). "Managerial process and Organisational Behaviour." Glen View, Scott, p315.

3 Antonovsky, A. (1979) "Health, stress, and coping." San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

4 Billings, A.G. and Moos, R.S. (1984). "Coping Stress and social resources among adult with unipolar depression". Journal of Personality and Psychology, Vol.46, pp.87-891.

5 Carver (1972). "Assessing Coping Strategies: A theoretically based approach." Journal of Personality and Social psychology, Vol.56, pp: 267-283.

6 Cohen, F. 1979). "Personality, stress, and the development of physical illness." In G.C. Stone, F.Cohen, & N.E. Adler (eds.), Health psychology: A Handbook. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

7 Cohen, F., & Lazarus, R.S. (1973). "Active coping processes, coping dispositions, and recovery from surgery." Psychosomatic Medicine, 35, 375-389.

8 Cohen, F., & Lazarus, R.S. 1979). "Coping with the stresses of illness." In G.C. Stone, F.Cohen, & N.E. Alder (eds.), Health Psychology. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

9 Folkman, S., & Lazarus, R.S. (1980) "An analysis of coping in a middle-aged community   sample." Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 21,219-239.

10 Haan, N. (1977) "Coping and defending: Processes of self-environment organization." New    York: Academic.

11 Lazarus, R.S. (1966) "Psychological stress and the coping process." New York, McGraw Hill.

12 Lazarus, R.S. (1967). "Cognitive and behavioural patterns underlying threat and coping." In Appley, M.H. and Trumbull, R. Eds, Psychological stress, New York, Appleton.

13 Lazarus, R.S.& Folkman, S. (1985). "Stress, Appraisal and Coping." Springer publication, New York.

14 Oakland, S. and Ostell, A. (1990). "Measuring coping: A review and critique." Journal of Human relations , Vol.49, No.2, pp.133-138.

15 Pearlin, L.I., & Schooler, C. (1978) "The structure of coping." Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 19,2-21.

16 Pestonjee D.M. (1992). "Stress and Coping the Indian Experience." Sage Publications, New Delhi.

17 Portello, J.Y. and Long, B.C. (2000). "Appraisals and Coping with work place interpersonal Stress: A model for women managers." Journal of Counselling Psychology, Vol.48, No.2, pp.144-56.

18 Roskies, E., & Lazarus, R.S. (1981) "Coping theory and the teaching of coping skills." In P.  Davidson (ed.), Behavioral Medicine: Changing health life styles. New York: Brunner/Mazel.

19 Ross Rendall and Altamaier. (1984) "Intervention in Occupational Stress." Sage Publications, London.

20 Shailendra Singh. (1990). "Organisational Stress and Executive Behaviour." Sreeram Centre for Industrial Relation and Human Resources, New Delhi.

Prof. Dileep Kumar M.
E- mail:

Source: E-mail January 23, 2006


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