- BACKGROUND OF THE 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. Whilst pressure has its positive side in raising performance, if such pressure becomes excessive, it can lead to stress which has negative consequences (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 (2000). According to Narayanan et al (2000) 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 definition that job stress is mostly associated with under employment.
Stress at work is a relatively new phenomenon of modern lifestyles. 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, occupational stress is attributable to negative situation such as formal reprimand by ones superior for poor performance. 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 organizational behaviour (Kazmi et al 2008, Shahu and Gole 2008, Nilufar et al 2009).
The Nigerian banking system as a whole has been under serious pressure from internal and external factors in the last few years. Following the National Poverty Eradication Program (NAPEP’s) new policy, the national coordinator of NAPEP Dr. Magnus Kpakol has charged commercial banks to intensify efforts in their support in poverty Eradication. This means more efforts on the side of the banks employees’. The involvement of commercial banks in the policy has led the management and staffs of the banking sector to work under a great deal of stress to see that the aim and objectives of this policy are achieved.
Bank management must necessarily react to changes if it must remain in business and avoid the pains of distress or outright failure. Management responses to cope with these changes are diverse. It ranges from re-engineering, rationalization of branches and business lines, increased working hours, staff education and retraining or sometimes retrenchment and complete re-organization. Bank workers who are victims of management reactions are equally susceptible to stress. This is perhaps true in that the operational framework of the bank require bank workers to resume early and close very late, the introduction of weekend banking (Saturday banking), while some of them are also required to update themselves academically within a set time, which makes must of category of worker to register for degree/diploma weekend programmes (Giga et al 2002).
The emphasis in the stress management literature has been on individual techniques and practices for reducing levels of stress in the workplace. The individual has been the focus of attention and the psychological dimensions of stress has been the primary focus of research. Cooper (2003) suggests however, that there is a need to counter-balance these social-psychological studies with sociological and critical management research concerned with the wider social and power relations of the workplace. This Empirical study is based in a developing country where contextual socio-political issues and structural-economic conditions impact upon operational practice and workplace stress. Limited telecommunication networks, skill levels and educational attainment of staff, governmental policies and world events, all combine to create a very different business environment to comparable banking organizations in more highly industrialized countries (Mahdi and Dawson, 2007).
It is therefore important that both bank worker and management should be well acquainted with the
important issue that affect not only workers effectiveness in the work place, but there life in general.
- STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Occupational stress is not a private matter for the employee to deal with alone and in isolation. Job stress produces negative effects for both the organization and the employee. For the organization, the results are disorganization in the work place, disruption in normal operations, lowered productivity and lower margins of profit. For the employee, the effects are three fold which includes; increased physical health problems, psychological distress and behavioral changes.
Bankers, especially in commercial banks are under a great deal of stress related to a variety of occupational stressors which may be in form of day-to-day worries, major events or prolonged problematic work situations or they may arise from certain ideas, thoughts and perceptions that evoke negative emotions like the idea that one may not reach the position that one aspires. These occupational stressors contribute to organizational inefficiency, high staff turnover, absenteeism due to sickness, decreased quality and quantity of work, increased costs of health care, and decreased job satisfaction. One of the organizational outcomes that are affected by occupational stress is job performance.
Competition for survival among banks for customers coupled with bank consolidation has led the banks to setting high target for their workers. Some of the targets are so high that they are unachievable by the work force. This puts intense pressure on the work force for fear of losing their jobs in this period of global unemployment, downsizing of companies and global economic meltdown; this brings psychological trauma, fear and mental agony on the workforce. Under this circumstances, mistake are made, staff become sick and often may die on the job.
- OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The specific objectives of this study are:
- To analyze the causes of stress that employees in the banking sector encounter.
- To evaluate the extent to which occupational stress affect job performance.
- To analyze the various strategies adopted by the banking sector to reduce occupational stress.
- To evaluate the impacts of stress on employee job performance.
- RESEARCH QUESTIONS
This study will focus on answering the following research questions;
- What are the causes of stress that employees in the banking sector encounter?
- To what extent does occupational stress affect job performance?
- What are the various strategies adopted by the banking sector to reduce occupational stress?
- What are the impacts of stress on employees’ job performance?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
- Ho: Pressures of responsibilities and pressure to work longer hours are not some of the causes of stress that employees in the banking sector encounter.
Hi: Pressures of responsibilities and pressure to work longer hours are some of the causes of stress that employees in the banking sector encounter.
- Ho: Occupational stress does not significantly affect job performance.
Hi: Occupational stress significantly affects job performance.
- Ho Redesigning job to increase challenge or reduce work load cannot be a strategy for reducing occupational stress.
Hi: Redesigning job to increase challenge or reduce work load can be a strategy for reducing occupational stress.
- Ho: Absenteeism, low morale and reduced out put are not negative impacts of stress on employee job performance.
Hi: Absenteeism, low morale and reduced out put are negative impacts of stress on employee job performance.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study is significant in a number of ways: