CRITICAL STUDY OF THE EFFECT OF JOB STRESS ON NIGERIAN BANKERS
1.1 BACKGROUND STUDY
The workplace of the 21st century is a fast-paced, dynamic,
highly stimulating environment which brings a large number of benefits
and opportunities to those who work within it. The ever-changing demands
of the working world can increase levels of stress, especially for
those who are consistently working under pressure such as bank workers,
medical workers etc. Whilst pressure has its positive side in raising
performance, if such pressure becomes excessive it can lead to stress
which has negative consequences (Issa, et al. 2009; Al-khasawneh and
Futa, 2013; Santiago, 2003).
According to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary 6th
Edition, stress could among other things, refer to pressure, tension or
worries arising from problematic situations in an individual’s life.
Where the incidence of such stress is traceable to a job or work
situation, it is known as job stress (Narayanan et al 1999). As
Narayanan et al (1999) further observed that job stress could in fact be
identified with almost any aspect of a job or work situation such as
extremes of heat, noise and light, or too much or too little
responsibility etc. According to Irene (2005) job stress is a pattern of
reactions that occurs when workers are presented with work demands that
are not matched to their knowledge, skills or abilities, and which
challenge their ability to cope. It is evident from this Irene’s
definition that job stress is mostly associated with under-employment.
Stress at work is a relatively new phenomenon of modern
lifestyles. According to Beheshtifar and Nazarian (2013), it is an
unavoidable consequence of modern living. The nature of work has gone
through drastic changes over the last century and it is still changing
at whirlwind speed. They have touched almost all professions, starting
from an artist to a surgeon, or a commercial pilot to a sales executive.
With change comes stress, inevitably. In most cases, job stress is
attributable to negative situations such as a formal reprimand by one’s
superior for poor performance. Beheshtifar and Nazarian (2013) submit
that stress is much more common in employees at lower levels of
workplace hierarchies because they have less control over their work
situation. However, pleasant circumstances could also bring about job
stress, such as job promotion and transfer to another location. Job
stress has attracted considerable attention in recent times especially
within the context or organisational behaviour (Kazmi et al 2008; Shahu
and Gole 2008; Nilufar et. al. 2009).
Most research findings suggest that when an individual
comes under stress, his cognitive performance and decision-making may be
adversely affected. Kazmi et al (2008) investigated the effect of job
stress on job performance and found that there is a negative
relationship between job stress and job performance. Shahu and Gole
(2008) inquired if there was any relationship between job performance,
job satisfaction and job stress and found that higher stress levels are
related to lower performance. Sabir and Helge (2003) note that the major
changes that have been implemented in the financial sector have caused
major negative effects on workers’ working and personal lives. Santiago
(2003) examined the negative effects of internal stress on police
performance and found that the negative stress that often results from
organisational settings through poor management can be debilitating.
There is evidence to suggest that there are ways in which
an organisation can help to reduce instances of job stress, or better
manage the issue when it arises. In order to reduce or avoid job stress,
Fako (2010) points to the importance of role clarity, a reasonable
workload, the need for employees to maintain a healthy diet, and the
need to avoid regularly putting in extra hours at work. Effective people
management, good two-way communication between employers and employees,
suitable working environments and effective work organisation are just
some of the factors which can have an impact (Mbadou and Mbohwa, 2013).
However, there is the need to examine critically, the nature and effect
of job stress in Nigerian Banking Sector before suggesting ways by which
the management could deal with it and this is the main thing this study
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
For most people, work is a significant and meaningful
feature of life with the majority of them spending around 25% of their
adult lives working. While work can provide people with structure,
purpose, satisfaction, self-esteem and spending power, the workplace can
also be a setting of stress and worry.
According to Jungwee (2007), there is no single cause of
job stress. While stress can be triggered by sudden, unexpected
pressures, it is often the result of a combination of stressful factors
which accumulate over time. Some people can become so used to the
symptoms of excessive stress that it goes unnoticed to their detriment.
Most job stress is related to management of work, relationships at work,
organizational setup and whether you feel you have power and control in
your work. The experience of stress is different for every person
(Jungwee, 2007). Some people are affected more than others, so what is
stressful for one person may not be stressful for another. It can depend
on your personality type and on how you have learned to respond to
pressure (Fako, 2010).
Stress is not always negative or harmful and indeed, the
absence of stress is death (Arbabisarjou, et al., 2013). Luthans (1989)
asserts that we all need some degree of stress to function normally.
Thus, in his opinion, mild levels of stress may not be completely bad
for employees as a means of enhancing their job performance. However,
empirical studies carried out on the incidence of stress among Nigerian
workers by Olugbile (1982); Asika and Ade-Serrano (1985) and Akinnusi
(1995) have shown that consistently high levels of stress in conjunction
with other socio-political and economic factors has contributed to the
declining performance and productivity of the Nigerian workers (Nwaroh
1991). Apart from the grave national economic consequences of such
declining performance and productivity, job stress also poses serious
health problems (Cox, et. al. 1996).
The current turbulent
Nigerian business environment requires workers and organizations to
reexamine their practices. Banking is an inherently stressful profession
with long working hours, serious competition, ethical dilemmas,
regulatory bottlenecks and difficult customers. Sharma, et al. (2010)
opine that people in human service profession, such as banking, are
often required to spend considerable time in intense involvement with
other people and when customers’ problems are not solved immediately,
the situation may become more ambiguous and frustrating. An empirical
study of the existence of stress in the Nigerian Banking Industry by
Akingunola and Adigun (2010) confirms the existence of stress causing
factors in the Nigerian banking sub-sector with higher level of stress
found among the executive than the non-executive. The issue of job
stress among Nigerian bank workers could be better addressed if the
factors responsible for such stress were properly identified and
evaluated. The question of how job stress affects workers’ performance
is a relevant one given the nature of today’s banking environment and
the challenges faced by Nigerian workers.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
Individuals are well adapted to cope with short-term
exposure to pressure - in fact this can often be positive - but there
will be greater difficulty in coping with prolonged intensive pressure. A
key point to recognise is that individuals will react differently to
pressure in different situations and at different stages in their
working lives. Based on the foregoing, it is worthwhile to conduct a
research of this nature to reveal specific facts about job stress in
Nigerian working environment.
The specific objectives of the study can be stated as follows:
1. To investigate the effect of job stress on employees’ performance in Union Bank, Uyo.
2. To examine the nature of job stress faced by Nigerian Bankers.
3. To identify the factors that is responsible for job stress for Nigerian bankers.
4. To ascertain the strategies for dealing with job stress among Nigerian bankers.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The research questions that would guide this study are stated below:
1. What is the effect of job stress on employees’ performance in Union bank, Uyo?
2. What is the nature of job stress faced by Nigerian Bankers?
3. What are the factors that are responsible for job stress for Nigerian bankers?
4. What are the strategies for dealing with job stress among Nigerian bankers?
In order to enable the
researcher ascertain the relationship between the variables involved in
this study, he has to postulate the following hypothesis:
Ho: Job stress does not affect Nigerian bankers.
HA: Job stress does affect Nigerian bankers.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The desire of every employer is optimum productivity. This
can only be achieved when the employees work at their best. But one
major factor that has been identified in the literature to affect the
performance of employees is job stress. Therefore, the employers and/or
management cannot ignore the influence of job stress in attaining the
organizational set goals.
The focus of this study is to understand how job stress
affects workers’ in terms of productivity and also to identify the
factors that are responsible for job stress. With that knowledge it may
be possible to adjust/modify these factors in order to improve the
performance of the employees as well as that of the organization.
The application of the findings of this study is mainly for
the design and implementation of the most effective strategies for
dealing with job stress in Nigerian Banking Sector. However, it is hoped
that the key ideas can be transported to any workplace wishing to
increase or enhance workers’ productivity.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study is an attempt to provide employers and employees
with a framework of measures which will identify and prevent problems
of job stress and help to manage them when they do arise. Although
stress is associated with a number of factors, the scope of this study
will be limited to only work-related stress. Furthermore, the impact of
job stress on the productivity of employees would be investigated
empirically. This will help to put to rest the controversy surrounding
the likely effect of job stress on workers’ performance.
Job stress is a common phenomenon in every occupation, the focus of this
research shall be on the Nigerian Banking Sector with special interest
on Union Bank Plc. Uyo. The selection of this sector was purposeful
because of the work challenges that workers in the sector face on a
daily basis especially in recent times with workforce cutbacks which
could have resulted in greater pressures on remaining workforces with
increased work overloads or stress (Akingunola and Adigun, 2010).
The research is intended to be elaborate in order to gather
diversified opinions on the subject matter and to allow for precision
in the identification of job related stress causing factor for every