THE EFFECT OF STRESS ON EMPLOYEES WORK PERFORMANCE IN AN ORGANIZATION
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The work place of the 21st century is a fast placed, 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 doctors etc. Whilst pressure has its positive side in raising performance, if such pressure becomes excessive, it can lead to stress which has negative consequence (1ssa, 2009; Alkhasawneh 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. According to Irene (2005) “job stress is a pattern of reactions that occur when workers are presented with work demands that are not matched to their knowledge, skills or abilities, 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. 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 of organizational behaviour (Kazmi, 2008) Shahu and Gole, 2008; Nilafar, 2009).
Most research findings suggest that when an individual comes under stress, his cognitive performance and decision-making may be adversely affected. Kazmi (2008) investigated the effect of 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 out that higher stress levels are related to lower performance. Sabir and Helge (2003) noted 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 organizational settings through poor management can be debilitating.
There is evidence to suggest that there are ways in which an organization can help to curb instances of job stress, or better manage the issues 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 employees, suitable working environments and effective work organization are just some of the factors which can have an impact, (Mbadu and Mbohwa, 2013). The researcher viewed stress as a dangerous phenomenon that leads to deterioration of peoples’ total functioning; thus this topic, in turn raised the awareness to management of an organization on the phenomenon.
To the researcher, his main concern being the trends that he noticed in an organization during his counseling as a researcher, where most employees were encouraged to treat symptoms of stress without getting to the core of the stressor.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Job stress is considered to be a rising concern in many organizations. 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.