CAUSES AND EFFECTS OF STRESS ON SECRETARIES JOB PERFORMANCE IN AUCHI POLYTECHNIC, AUCHI

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CAUSES AND EFFECTS OF STRESS ON SECRETARIES JOB PERFORMANCE IN AUCHI POLYTECHNIC, AUCHI

Background to the Study

CHAPTER ONE

Introduction

 

Stress is one of the most fundamental problems spanning through human endeavour. Nweze (2005) stated that for two and half decades, stress phenomenon has become a topical issue in management development, seminars and workshops in Nigeria. He further stated that the popularity of stress stems from a number of obvious reasons.

First, nobody is immuned to stress. We can be caught up in a situation that causes or induces stress in the individual. Thus as a part of human living the young, old, rich, poor, professionals and lay men alike are potential victims of stress. Second, because  stress is  viewed as the disease of growth and development, there is  the search for the  stress virtue in modern life. Nweze  (2005) further stated that our traditional mechanisms  of handling the stresses and strains of living are fast breaking down. This is being precipitated by the factor of rapid urban development, increasing corporate regimentation of work life, breakdown of social supports, increasing personal and group conflicts, including security threats to life and property. Stress has become part and parcel of life in human societies. The frustrations, disappointments and pressures of daily life constitute  the genesis of stress. Stress has been conceptualised in many ways.

Sisk (1977) defined stress as a state of strain, tension or pressure and  it  is  a normal reaction resulting from interaction between the individual and the environment. Strain means to make great demand on something; tension is a mental or emotional strain that makes natural relaxed behaviour impossible; and pressure is a powerful demand on somebody’s time, attention or energy. Beehr and Newman (1978) perceived stress in an occupational setting to mean a condition wherein job- related factors interact  with  workers, to change their psychological and physiological conditions  such  that  the person’s mind and body are forced to deviate from normal functioning. The similarity in the foregoing definitions reveals that there must be an interaction  between  the environment and the individual before stress can occur.  The  interaction arises when man is trying to deal with the problems that his environment produced. It could be in his  place of work or marriage which makes it impossible for man to relax his nervous system.

Oboegbulem (1995) defined stress as a feeling which occurs when an individual’s working or living conditions or circumstances make demands beyond his capacity to handle such a situation physically or emotionally. When a person is faced with disturbing situations, a change in his normal behaviour is usually noticeable. Such an individual may be faced with emotional, cognitive and physiological disruption or malfunctioning which can disorganise and adversely affect his powers of reasoning.

Halgin and Whitbourne (2003) conceptualized stress as an unpleasant emotional reaction a person has when he or she perceives an event to  be threatening.  They stated that this emotional reaction may include heightened physiological  arousal  due  to increased reactivity of the sympathetic nervous system. The stressor is the event itself, which is also called a stressful life event. In the context of this work stress refers to a condition or situation in the body that makes people prone to anxiety, depression, anger, hostility, inadequacy and low frustration tolerance (Wai,2003). Hornby (2004) described anxiety as a state of feeling nervous or worried; depression as a state of feeling very sad and without hope; anger as a strong feeling you have when something has happened that you think is bad and unfair; hostility is an unfriendly or aggressive feeling or behaviour; inadequacy as a state of not being able to deal with a situation; and frustration as arising when something is preventing somebody from succeeding. Every  health  problem  that does not have a permanent cure can be managed like stress.

Management has been defined in various ways. In the view of Esiekpe (2003) management simply implies the skill in dealing with something or to  be  in  perfect  control of a situation. Stress management as defined by Cohen and Lazarus (1979) is problem-solving effort made by an individual faced with demands that  are  highly  relevant to his welfare but taxing his adaptive resources. Adaptive resources  involve coping methods that people exhibit in order to be habituated with stress.

Okafor and Okafor (1998) stated that stress management entails setting up roadblocks so that the progression to the illness or disease level does not occur. They concluded that if we could eliminate  or  block  all  potentially distressing  life situations, the journey towards illness or disease levels  would  never  begin.  However,  Greenberg and Dintiman (1992) opined that eliminating or blocking all potentially distressing life situations is not only impossible, but also undesirable, because life would be extremely  dull if we did not have changes which require adaptation or adjustment.

For Cooper (1986), stress management strategies comprise measures  taken  to  cope with trying periods, so that a state of psychological and physiological equilibrium is re-established and subsequently maintained. The truth of the matter is that in stress management, no one technique or strategy would be deemed to be successful for all individuals in all situations. Stress management is conceptualised in this work as the process of managing demands that are appraised as tasking or exceeding the resource of  the person (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984a).

 

 

Plotnik and Mollenauer (1986) stated that stress management  strategies  are referred to as the methods we employ to deal with stressful or disturbing situations. They categorised these methods into effective and ineffective strategies. Such ineffective strategies are overeating, drug abuse, aggression which may make us feel better shortly, while effective strategies are thought substitution and relaxation.  Akubue  (2000) identified other management strategies like exercise, discussion,  relaxation,  meditation and holiday. Also in stress management, individuals use coping strategies and resources that help them to adapt to environmental demands. These strategies play a key role in determining the nature and extent of the stress impact.

Coping is defined as the process of managing demands (external or internal) that are appraised as taxing or exceeding the resources of the person (Folkman, 1984a). There are two types of strategies that have been assessed by almost all coping measures developed in the past few decades (Parker & Endler, 1996). These are problem-focused  and emotion-focused coping.

In problem-focused coping, the individual reduces stress by acting to change whatever makes the situation stressful. The person might make alternative plans or find a new and better way to correct the situation. By contrast, in emotion-focused coping, a person does not change anything about the situation. Thinking positively is one emotion- focused coping method people use to make themselves feel better under stressful conditions. Avoidance is another emotion-focused  strategy  which  Halgin  and Whitbourne (2003) stated that this method is similar to the defence mechanism  of denial, in which the individual refuses to acknowledge that a problem or difficulty exists. In the context of this study, the terms “coping’’ and “stress management strategies’’ are used as synonymous. Stress management strategies in this work is conceptualized as all the methods we employ to deal with stressful or disturbing situations. Some past researchers have established that stress management strategies can be influenced by some variables.

Some factors that may influence stress management strategies are age and gender. Segal, Hook, and Crolidge (2001) investigated the coping strategies adopted by a sample  of community-dwelling older adults with college undergraduates and found out that younger adults received higher scores on the dysfunctional coping strategies of  focusing on the venting emotions, mentally disengaging, and using alcohol and  drugs.  Older  adults, by contrast were more likely to use impulse control and turn to their religion as coping strategies. These findings are in keeping with those of other researchers (Diehl, Coyle, & Labourie-vief, 1996) which indicated that older adults use more  problem  focused coping and other strategies that allow them to channel their negative feeling into

 

 

productive activities. In the context of this study age will be classified  according  to Samuel (2006) who put it like this young adults 21-40 years,  middle adulthood 41-46 years, and older adults 65 years old and above.

Gender plays a role in handling of stress. Sukhadeepak (2006) stated that women are more adept at handling stress because of coping mechanisms. Men seem to be more stress prone since they are more likely to get into other things that add to stress such as alcoholism, smoking and so on. He added that while women are better equipped to deal with emotional issues, men find it difficult to express anxiety and sorrow. The  management strategies will be beneficial to administrative staff of tertiary institutions in FCT. The administrative staff in tertiary institution are those people that  are termed  as  non academic staff. They are the management staff that treat and move  files  in  the offices. The day to day institution’s administration is entrusted in their hands. The entire business of the school is dependent upon the decision of the  administrative  staff.  They  are as, such faced with top administrative decisions, plans and policies alongside their personal burden. This of course is quite burdensome and  stressful  since they are busy at all times. This makes the study of preferred stress management strategies adopted by administrative staff necessary. In the course of performing the above functions by the administrative staff of the tertiary institutions stress ensures. The administrative staff of tertiary institutions are Faculty Officers, Registrars, Deputy Registrar, Principal Assistant Registrar, Director of Institutes, Director of Sports, Chief Librarian, Bursars, Secretaries, clerks etc. Tertiary institution is the third tier of education. This is the education after secondary school. It is also described as higher institution of learning. The study will be conducted in Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.

The capital city is made up of six Area Councils viz:  Abuja  Municipal,  Kuje, Abaji, Gwagwalada, Kwali,and Bwari Area Councils. It is bounded in the  north  by Kaduna state, in the east and west by Nasarawa and Niger states, respectively. Kogi state lies in the south of Abuja. The choice of the  city for the investigation was borne out  of  the present events of demolition of structures that people are dwelling, which administrative staff are among. As a fast growing city accommodation, feeding, and transportation are on the high side. The institution itself is still at the temporary site and these can create a stressful situation in their lives. Moreover, to my best knowledge the present investigation has been conducted in tertiary institutions in FCT, Abuja. The pivot  of this study will be based on two models of stress.

These are transactional and health realisation/ innate health models. Lazarus and Folkman (1984) interpretation of stress focuses on the transaction between people and their external environment (known as transactional model). The model conceptualizes stress as a result of how a stressor is appraised and how a person appraises his or her resources to cope with the stressor. Stressors are the environmental events or forces that cause stress response. These could be economic instability, unfurnished offices, campus militancy and so on. Health realization/innate health model of stress management is founded on the idea that stress does not necessarily follow the presence of a potential stressor. Instead of focusing on the individual appraisal of so  called  stressors  in relation to his or her own coping skills (as the transactional model does), the health realization model focuses on the nature of thought, stating that it is ultimately a person’s thought process that determine the response to potentially stressful external circumstance.

Statement of the Problem

Stress could be considered as one of the irritating administrative problems that continue to pose threat to the goal attainment of administrative staff  of  tertiary institutions. Stress phenomenon has become an  important  area of research  in medicine and psychology, and in management, development, seminars  and  workshops in Nigeria and elsewhere. It has become a trendy topic for head lines cover stories. Internationally, United Kingdom, stress is believed to trigger 70% of visits to doctors and 85% of serious illnesses. (http: //www. businessballs.com/stressmanagement.htm). if there has been an appreciable level of stress that exists among high technologically developed west, one would imagine what would be the case for this country (Nigeria) where everything we embark on is a stressor.

Studies in Nigeria, Ofoegbu & Nwadiani (2006) recorded  the  prevalence  of stressful working conditions in tertiary institutions. According to them  those things  are life threatening, harmful and challenging situations which are stressful to people’s existence and well-being which the administrative staff  are  among.  Research findings also indicated that work related stress is obtained in every work and can be as harmful as smoking. For-example, a survey of 21,000 women in Britain found that those with most demanding jobs, little control over their work environment and lack of support from their co-workers and superiors were more likely to suffer from  stress  than  those  contented with their jobs (Madisori, 2000). Several studies also have been carried out on the administrators stress management strategies ( Dardick,1990; Terril,1993; Hartzell,1994; Michell,1996; Marnic,1997;Regules,1997;Goodsoon,2000 ) found out humour, exercise, discussion, and prayer as management strategies.

There is a clear indication from literature that stress related disorders are quickly becoming the most prevalent reason for workers disability. For example research in United States found at least 40% reductions in employee turn over  due to  on-the-job  stress (World Federation For Mental Health, 2000). In Japan,  59%  of  workers  were found to feel markedly ‘fatigued” from work. Infact, “Karoshi’’ a word for stress in Japanese is said to claim about 10,000. Japanese stress problem is their refusal to  seek  help because of their culture in work obsession as a virtue and weariness as sign of weakness (Segal, 2000). A substantial amount of research over the past decades has implicated stress to be an important factor in susceptibility to diseases. For example, studies on heart and respiratory diseases (Cohen & Herbert, 1996),  common cold  (Costa & VandeBos, 1996) some forms of diabetes and gastro intestinal disorders as being influenced by stress-related responses (Cohen, Frank, Doyle, Skonner, Rabbin, & Gwaltney, 1998).

This is of particular concern as the leading cause of sickness  and can be reduced  by the adoption of practices that will help alleviate stress for administrative  staff  of tertiary institutions. People attempt to manage their stress conditions and their strategies differ from person to person and situation to situation. What we may not know is how administrative staff of tertiary institutions in FCT, Abuja adopts theirs hence, the study.

 

Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this study is to identify the preferred stress management strategies adopted by the administrative staff of tertiary institutions in FCT. Specifically, the study seeks to find out the:

  1. sources of stress to the administrative staff;
  2. preferred job-related stress management strategies adopted  by  administrative staff;
  3. preferred personal characteristics stress management strategies adopted by administrative staff;
  4. preferred interpersonal stress management strategies adopted by administrative staff;
  5. preferred general stress management strategies adopted by administrative staff;
  6. differences in the sources of stress between male and female administrators;
  7. differences in the sources of stress between experienced (10yrs & below in service) and very experienced (above 10yrs in service) administrative staff;
  8. differences in the sources of stress between young adults (21-40yrs) and middle adulthood to older adults (41yrs & above) administrative staff;
  9. differences in preferred job-related stress management strategies adopted by male and female administrative staff;

 

 

  1. differences in preferred job-related stress management strategies adopted by experienced (10 years and below in service) and very experienced  (above  10 years in service administrative staff;
  2. differences in preferred job-related preferred stress  management  strategies adopted by young adults (21-4 years) and middle adulthood to older adults (41 years and above) administrative staff;
  3. differences in preferred personal stress management strategies adopted by male and female by administrative staff;
  4. differences in preferred personal characteristics stress management strategies adopted by experienced (10yr and below in service) and very experienced (above 10yrs in service) administrative staff;
  5. differences in preferred personal characteristics stress management strategies adopted by young adult (21-40yrs) and middle adult old to older adult (41 yrs and above) administrative staff;
  6. differences in preferred interpersonal stress management strategies adopted by male and female administrative staff;
  7. differences in preferred interpersonal stress management strategies adopted by experienced (10 yrs and below in service) and very experienced (above 10 yrs in service) administrative staff;
  8. differences in preferred interpersonal stress management strategies adopted by young adult (41 yrs and above) administrative staff;
  9. differences in preferred general stress management strategies  adopted  by male and female administrative staff;
  10. differences in preferred general stress management strategies adopted by experienced (10 yrs and below in service) and very experienced(above 10yrs in service) administrative staff;
  11. differences in preferred general stress management strategies adopted by young adults (21-40 yrs) and middle adult hood to older adult (41 yrs and above) administrative

 

Research Questions

The following research questions are posed to guide the study:

  1. What are the sources of stress to the administrative staff?
  2. What are the preferred job-related stress management strategies adopted by the administrative staff?

 

 

  1. What are the preferred personal characteristics stress management strategies adopted by the administrative staff?
  2. What are the preferred interpersonal stress management strategies adopted by the administrative staff?
  3. What are the preferred general stress management strategies adopted by the administrative staff?
  4. What are the different in the sources of stress between  male  and  female administrative staff?
  5. What are the differences in the sources of stress between experienced (10yrs and below in service) and very experience (above 10 yrs in service) administrative staff?
  6. What are the differences in the sources of stress between  young adults  (21-40  yrs) and middle adulthood to older adults (41 yrs and above) administrative staff?
  7. What are the differences in the preferred job-related stress management strategies between males and female administrative staff?
  8. What are the differences in the preferred job-related stress management strategies adopted by experienced (10yrs and below in service) and very experienced (above 10 yrs in service) administrative staff?
  9. What are the differences in the preferred job-related stress management strategies adopted by young adults (21 – 40 yrs) and middle adulthood to older adults (41  yrs and above) administrative staff?
  10. What are the differences in the preferred personal stress management strategies adopted by male and female administrative staff?
  11. What are the differences in the preferred personal characteristics stress management strategies adopted by experienced (10yrs and below in service) and very experienced (above 10 yrs in service) and very experienced (above 10yrs in  service)  administrative staff?
  12. What are the differences in the preferred personal characteristics stress management strategies adopted by young adults (21-40yrs) and middle adulthood  to  older  adult (41 yrs and above) administrative staff?
  13. What are the differences in the preferred interpersonal characteristics stress management strategies adopted by male and female administrative staff?
  14. What are the difference in the preferred interpersonal stress management adopted by experience (10yrs in service) and very experienced (above 10 yrs in service) administrative staff?

 

 

  1. What are the differences in the preferred interpersonal stress management strategies adopted by young adults (21-40 yrs) and middle adulthood to older adults (41yrs and above) administrative staff?
  2. What are the differences in the preferred general stress management  strategies  adopted by male and female administrative staff?
  3. What are the differences in the preferred general stress  management  strategies adopted by experienced (10yrs and below in service) and very experienced (above 10 yrs in service) administrative staff?
  4. What are the differences in the preferred general stress  management  strategies adopted by young adults (21-40 yrs) and middle adulthood to older adults (41 yrs and above) administrative staff?

 

Hypotheses

The following null hypotheses were postulated to be tested at .05 level of significance

  1. There is not statistically significant difference in the sources of stress between  male and female administrative staff ;
  2. There is no statistically significant difference in sources of stress between experienced (10 yrs and below in service) and very experienced (above 10 yrs in service) administrative staff;
  3. There is no statistically significant difference in the sources of stress between young adults (21-40) and middle adulthood to older adults (41 years and above) administrative staff;
  4. There is no statistically significant difference in the preferred job-related stress management strategies adopted by male and female administrative staff ;
  5. There is no statistically significant difference in the preferred job-related stress management strategies adopted by experienced (10 years and below in services) and very experienced (above 10 years in service) administrative staff;
  6. There is no statistically significant difference in the preferred job-related stress management strategies adopted by young adults (21-40  yrs)  and  middle adulthood to older adults (41 yrs and above) administrative staff;
  7. There is no statistically significant difference in the preferred personal stress management strategies adopted by male and female administrators;
  8. There is no statistically significant difference in the preferred personal characteristics stress management strategies adopted by experienced (10 yrs and

 

 

below in service) and very experienced (above 10 yrs in service) administrative staff;

  1. There is no statistically significant difference in the preferred personal characteristics stress management strategies adopted by young adults (21-40 yrs) and middle adulthood to older adult (41 yrs and above) administrative staff;
  2. There is no statistically significant difference in the preferred interpersonal characteristics stress management strategies adopted by male and female administrative staff;
  3. There is no statistically significant difference in the preferred interpersonal characteristics stress management strategies adopted by experienced (10 yrs and below in service) and very experienced (above 10 yrs and  below  service)  and very experienced (above 10 yrs in service) administrative staff;
  4. There is no statistically significant difference in the preferred interpersonal characteristics stress management strategies adopted by young adults (21-40 yrs) and middle adulthood to older adults (41yrs and above) administrative staff;
  5. There is no statistically significant difference in the preferred general stress management strategies adopted by male and female administrative staff;
  6. There is no statistically significant difference in the preferred general stress management strategies adopted by experienced (10 yrs and below in service) and very experienced (above 10 yrs in service) administrative staff, and
  7. There is no statistically significant difference in the preferred general stress management strategies adopted by the young adults (21-40yrs) and middle adulthood to older adults (41 yrs and above) administrative staff.

 

Significance of the Study

The study will be considered significant in many ways. For example,  the  study will provide information on the sources of stress to administrative staff of tertiary institutions in the FCT. The information will be useful  to  the  Ministries  of Education who may use the information to address the areas where stress emanates as this will help improve administrative staff productivity. Cascio (1989) stated that in any organization aimed at production of goods and services, an effective management of people becomes pertinent to circumvent some costly lapses that are bound to accrue to  the  institution sequel to stress.

The study will provide information on the preferred stress management strategies adopted by the senior administrative staff. The information will be useful to the Ministry  of Health in alliance with the Department of Health and Physical Education as the information will help them plan worthwhile health promotion programmes which administrative staff might use to their own advantage. Improved health status will help administrative staff in the execution of their job, while a deteriorated health status will detract from their productive rate and lead to loss of work days due to ill-health.

The study will also generate information on the different preferred stress management strategies adopted by gender. This will reveal the attitudes that do not agree with stress management strategies employed by different sex.  The  health educator  will use the result to counsel whichever sex that is affected by any undesirable stress management strategies.

The study will provide information on the different preferred stress management strategies adopted by young and old administrative staff. This information will reveal the strategies that are effective and ineffective practised on one group. The revelation may be useful to voluntary organizations in organising programmes that  will focus  on different age group on stress management strategies.

Scope of the Study

The study will be delimited to all administrative staff in the two  tertiary  institutions in Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, viz University of Abuja and Federal College of Education, Abuja. It will also investigate the preferred stress management strategies adopted by the administrative staff of tertiary institutions .The administrative staff are Faculty officers, Registrars, Deputy Registrar, Principal Assistant Registrar, Director of institutes, Director of Sports, Chief Librarians, secretaries, Clerks. The study will also cover such areas as concept and types of stress, sources of stress and stress management strategies. Preferred Personal characteristics stress management strategies, preferred job-related stress management strategies, preferred interpersonal stress management strategies, and preferred general stress management strategies will also be investigated. The study will take on two theories: transactional model and  innate model.  In the context of this study, transactional model views stress as an imbalance between demands and resources, while  innate model focuses on the  nature of thought,  stating that it is ultimately a person’s thought processes that determine the response to potentially stressful circumstances.

CAUSES AND EFFECTS OF STRESS ON SECRETARIES JOB PERFORMANCE IN AUCHI POLYTECHNIC, AUCHI

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