STRESS MANAGEMENT AND EMPLOYEE PERFORMANCE (A CASE STUDY OF UBA BANK PORT HARCOURT)

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 BACKGROUND TO 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 everchanging 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 organisationalbehaviour (Kazmi et al 2008; Shahu and Gole 2008; Nilufar et. al. 2009).

According to Robbins and sanghi (2006) “A dynamic condition in which an individual is confronted with an opportunity, constraints, or demand related to what he or she desires and for which the outcome is perceived to be both uncertain and important.” stress is an increasing problem in organizations and often cause adverse effects on performance. According to Kahn and Quinn (1970) “stress is the outcome of facet of the assigned work role that caused harmful effect for individual. Occupational stress is considered as harmful factor of the work environment.” It also has unpleasant effects on health of an individual as David (1998) contributed “it can also be labeled as the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs www.ajbms.org Asian Journal of Business and Management Sciences ISSN: 2047-2528 Vol. 1 No. 7 [38-47] ©Society for Business Research Promotion | 39 of the workers. Job stress can lead to poor health and even injury.” According to ILO (1986)“It is recognized world-wide as a major challenge to individual mental and physical health, and organizational health.” Although stress includes both good and bad aspects but it is not necessarily bad. Robbins and sanghi (2006) also contributed “stress is typically discussed in a negative context, it also has a positive value. It is an opportunity when offers a potential gain.” Rubina et at., (2008) contributed the same “Stress is not always negative or harmful and indeed, the absence of stress is death.” But it still has destructive impact on employee performance. 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.

According to Usman and ismail (2010)“One of the affected outcomes of stress is on job performance.”so it needs to be studied. The purpose of study is (a) To explore the stress related problems of bankers. (b) To examine the relationship of stress and performance. (c) To suggest the measures for stress tolerance and to enhance work performance.

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 is addressing.

1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The stress at workplaces is hovering from many years. But management did not take it up seriously and considered the solution as soft stuff. (Ira S. Wolfe) Stress happens when one realizes the strain on them. Even sometimes the requirements of a situation are wider than their recognition that they can handle, if these requirements are huge and continue for a longer period of time without any break, mental, physical or behaviour problems may arise, (Health &Safety Executive UK). Job stress was defined as that work uniqueness which pose as threats to an employee. In other terminology job stress occurs as a result of a poor person-environment fit. Job uniqueness which causes stress was conceptualized to consist of five magnitudes. One of the magnitudes, physical environment, was not integrated in the present study because it was considered unsuitable in entrepreneurial or managerial work environment (McLean 1974; Osipow and Spokane 1983) For the current study, strain was conceptualized to consist of four psychiatric states of affairs (Ilfeld 1976):

Depression: Frequently feeling lonely, fed up, dejected, or low in energy; loss of sexual desire; and
Having thoughts of possibly terminating one’s life; Anxiety: Frequency of upset or sour stomach, feeling dim or dizzy, hand trembling, avoiding things, and feeling afraid or fearful;
Cognitive Disturbance: Frequently experiencing difficulty in remembering things or concentrating; mind going blank;
Anger: Regularly losing temper; feeling simply annoyed, irritated, or critical of others; getting angry over less important things.

Three relationships are known to be significant psychosocial determinants of the mental as well as physical health of working people.

The relationship between the employee and his or her job.
Between the employee and other people at work- collegues; supervisor; subordinates etc. (c) Between the employee and the organization. The most current attention is paying attention to how deficiencies in these areas are harmful; job stress concepts also show how work can be beneficial to health. Satisfying and health promoting work includes interesting and challenging duties, genuine responsibility, opportunity for achievement by the individual, recognition for such achievement, and scope for individual advancement and growth. (Victoria, 2006).
For most people, work is a significant and meaningful feature of life with the majority of them spending around 25% – 35% 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 source 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 subsector 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
There are many factors which effect employee‟s job performance one significant factor is stress, It is an emerging concept in developing countries like Nigeria in this century.

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 effect on Nigerian workers especially the bank workers who by the nature of their jobs have to manage and cope with stress daily.

The specific objectives of the study are as follows:

To investigate the effect of job stress on employees’ performance in Nigerian banking sector.
To examine the nature of job stress faced by UBA Port Harcourt bankers.
To identify the factors that is responsible for job stress for UBA Port Harcourt bankers.
To ascertain the strategies for dealing with job stress among UBA Port Harcourt bankers.
Make recommendations on appropriate ways to proactively and effectively manage stress in the workplace.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The research questions that would guide this study are stated below:

What is the effect of job stress on employees’ performance in Nigerian banking sector?
What is the nature of job stress faced by UBA Port Harcourt bankers?
What are the factors that are responsible for job stress for UBA Port Harcourt bankers?

What are the strategies for dealing with job stress among UBA Port Harcourt bankers?

1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
In order to enable the researcher ascertain the relationship between the variables involved in this study, he has to postulate the following hypothesis:

HYPOTHESIS ONE
Ho: Job stress does not affect UBA Port Harcourt bankers.

HA: Job stress does affect UBA Port Harcourt bankers.

HYPOTHESIS TWO
Ho: Job stress does not have a significant negative impact on the productivity of UBA Port Harcourt bankers.

HA: Job stress does not have a significant negative impact on the productivity of UBA Port Harcourt bankers.

1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The desire of every employer is optimum productivity. This can only be achieved when the employees work and add value to the organization at their best. But one major factor that has been identified in the literature and practice that significantly affect the performance of employees is job related 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 Nigerian bank 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 UBA Plc. Lagos Nigeria. 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 individual respondent.

1:8 Overview of UBA plc.

UBA plc, commonly known as UBA, is a Nigerian multinational commercial bank, owned byUBA Group. It is licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria, the national banking regulator.

UBA is presently one of the five largest banks in Nigeria in terms of assets, loans, deposits and branch network. UBA has been operating in Africa since 1949, referred to then as the British and French Bank Limited (BFB).It took over the assets and liabilities of BFB and was incorporated as a limited liability company on 23 February 1961 under the Compliance Ordinance (Cap 37) 1922.

In 2005, it completed one of the biggest mergers in the history of Nigeria’s capital markets with the business combination with Standard Trust Bank (STB) Plc. From then, it continued to expand to Ghana, Benin Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Chad, Cameroon, Kenya, Gabon, Tanzania, Zambia, Uganda, Liberia, Sierra-Leone, Mozambique, Senegal, Congo DR, Congo Brazzaville and Mali. Followed by its pioneer Initial Public Offer in the Nigerian banking industry in 1970, UBA got listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, where it is publicly traded under the symbol “UBA” and it is the first Nigerian-headquartered bank to launch Global Depository Receipts, which are unlisted.

In 2006, the bank pioneered the interconnection of its then 428 African branches making it the largest online real time branch network in Africa. Africans are able to withdraw or deposit money in any of these branches regardless of where their accounts are domiciled. Since then, the bank has remained in the forefront of technology innovation in the African banking space, launching the first artificial intelligence Virtual Banking Robot in the African market early 2018.
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