STRESS AND ITS EFFECTS ON EMPLOYEES PRODUCTIVITY – A CASE STUDY OF GHANA PORTS AND HARBORS AUTHORITY, TAKORADI
TABLE OF CONTENTS
TABLE OF CONTENTS vi
LIST OF TABLES ix
LIST OF FIGURES x
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background to the Study 1
1.2 Statement of the Problem 4
1.3 Objectives of the Study 5
1.4 Research Questions 5
1.5 Significance of the Study 5
1.6 Scope of the Study 6
1.7 Limitations of the study 6
1.8 Organization of the Study 7
CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW
2.0 Introduction 8
2.1 Origin, Terminology and definition of Stress 8
2.2 Nature of Stress 9
2.3 Stress Process or Response Stages 12
2.4 Types of Stress 12
2.4.1 Chronic Stress 13
2.4.2 Acute Stress 13
2.4.3 Traumatic Stress 13
2.4.4 Episodic Acute Stress 14
2.5 Causes or Sources of Stress at Work 14
2.5.1 Factors intrinsic to the job 14
2.5.2 Role in the organization 16
2.5.3 Relationship at Work 18
2.5.4 Career Development 18
2.5.5 Organisation Structure and Conflict 19
2.6 Symptoms and Effects of Stress on employees Productivity 20
2.6.1 Psychological Symptoms and Effects 20
2.6.2 Behavioural Symptoms and Effects 20
2.6.3 Physiological Symptoms and Effects 20
2.7 The impact of Stress on the organisation 21
2.8 The impact of Stress on Productivity 26
2.9 Managing Stress 29
2.10 Summary 31
CHAPTER THREE METHODOLOGY
3.0 Introduction 32
3.1 Research Design 32
3.2 Population of the Study 33
3.3 Sample and Sample Technique 33
3.4 Sources of Data 33
3.4.1 Primary Data 34
3.4.2 Secondary Data 34
3.5 Research Instrument 34
3.6 Data Analysis 35
CHAPTER FOUR: ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION OF RESULTS
4.0 Introduction 36
4.1 Background of Respondents 36
4.2 Determining Stress levels and effect of Stress on Productivity 38
CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY OF FINDINGS, CONCLUSION
5.0 Introduction 56
5.1 Findings 56
5.2 Conclusion 58
5.3 Recommendations 59 REFERENCES 61
LIST OF TABLES
4.1 Determining whether GPHA, Takoradi cares 38
4.2 Exploration of whether respondents like working for GPHS, Takoradi 39
4.3 Determining whether employees have control over their jobs 40
4.4 Exploring work pressure 41
4.5 Exploring role clarity 41
4.6 Contradiction in job expectations 42
4.7 Assessing whether employees are asked to do more than their ability permits 43
4.8 Skills utilization to employee’s satisfaction 44
4.9 Exploring whether employees participate in decision making 45
4.10 An enquiry into whether employees get into conflict with each other 45
4.11 Exploring locus of control 46
4.12 Enquiry into whether employees are competition driven 47
4.13 Enquiry into whether employees are relaxed at work 48
4.14 When you have a problem at work what do you do 49
4.15 What employees do when they feel tense at work 50
4.16 Do you feel a sense of helplessness at work 51
4.17 Stay Away 52
4.18 Inclination to leave the job 53
4.19 Does your supervisor attend to your work problems 53
4.20 Do you have concentration problems when performing your duties 54
4.21 How was your performance feedback for the past four months 55
LIST OF FIGURES
4.1 Gender of Respondents 36
4.2 Age Distribution of Respondents 37
4.3 Academic Qualification of Respondents 37
4.4 Satisfaction with the work environment 39
4.5 Come late for work 52
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
In today’s world, stress has become a worldwide phenomenon, which occurs in various forms in every workplace. In today’s work life, employees are generally working for longer hours, as the rising levels of responsibilities require them to exert themselves even more strenuously to meet rising expectations about work performance. Omolara (2008) described occupational stress as the adverse psychological and physical reactions that occur in an individual as a result of their being unable to cope with the demands being made on them.
According to Swanepoel et al (1998) work related stress has been a topic that has received increasing attention, in the area of occupational health, over the last three decades. These authors were of the opinion that the world, especially the world of work and business, has become increasingly subject to fast changing forces like increased competition, the pressure of quality, innovation and an increase in the pace of doing business. The demands on employees grew equally dramatically and this created stress within employees. Apart from stress that arose from the work situation, other sources of stress could relate to personal factors such as relationships with others and use of free time.
Stress can therefore be described as the adverse psychological and physical reactions that occur in an individual as a result of his or her inability to cope with the demands being made on him or her (Moorhead and Griffen, 1998). That is tension from extra-ordinary demands on an individual.
It is noted that, stress is not necessarily bad; it is an opportunity when it offers potential gain. But whatever its nature, it usually begins when individuals are placed in a work environment
that is incompatible with their work style and or temperament. It becomes aggravated when individuals find out that they have or can exercise little control over it.
“Many organizations in the world are witnessing an alarming increase of the negative effects of stress on employee’s productivity. Typical examples are organizations in America, the United Kingdom, the Caribbean, East and Central Africa, West Africa and in other parts of the world. The American Academy of family Physicians reported that, about two-thirds of the visits to family physicians are the results of stress-related symptoms” (Henry and Evans 2008).
Michac (1997) specified causes of stress as follows: poor time management, unclear job descriptions, feelings of inadequacy and insecurity, inability to get things done, lack of communication, bad personal relationships, quality and complexity of tasks. In the same breadth, Dean (2002) viewed stress-related illnesses as the leading cause for low productivity levels in the workplace. Immense pressure at work has led to stress, which made it the number one factor causing illness. Michac (1997) outlined reasons for low productivity as follows; poor training in the company, machine break downs, non-established performance standards, lack of planning and motivation, change, poor atmosphere and environment, inadequate communication at many levels, non-identification with company goals.
In Ghana, several nationwide surveys have indicated that, about 58% of the workforce in organizations suffers from stress – related problems (The Weekly Mirror 2006). This means that stress can be a killer of many organizations in Ghana of which The Ports and Harbours Authority, Takoradi is no exception.
The Takoradi Ports and Harbours Authority was established in 1939 by the Colonial masters of the then Gold Coast. Its main purpose was to provide a convenient avenue for the export
of the country’s main primary export commodities; cocoa, bauxite, manganese and Timber, as it was sited closer to regions where the bulk of these commodities were extracted. The harbour is managed by the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA). The authority is responsible for the administration of the port which involves the structural maintenance of the port, provision of stevedoring equipment and services to various shipping lines that call at the port, while providing shelter and security for goods arriving at the port either for import or export. That had been the traditional role of the GPHA within which job routines were carved out for employees and which quickly became comfort zones for employees as they settled in, until developments in trade and industry, shipping and international transport assumed a new and complex dynamics.
Over the past 20 years, the complexity of port administration has dramatically increased and a number of development account for this. On one front, the Post-Independence industrialization of Ghana meant an increased volume of freight calling at the harbour; the numerous multi-lateral international trade agreements and conventions successive governments signed also increased trade; the increased use of automation in shipping and forwarding which meant a computerization of its systems; a more knowledgeable, influential and demanding client base and the increasing number of stakeholder organizations such as Customs, the Shippers Council and the Environmental Protection Agency whose activities affect the GPHA meant a complex stakeholder management.
On another front, are the international affiliations of the authority, such that any changes in international convention and standards also demanded a change in the management strategies of the GPHA.
Another issue is the government’s drive to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) which introduced the free zones, some of which were meant to be sited within the harbour. There was also the issue of a strong competition among Ghana, Nigeria, Benin and La Cote D’Ivoire, each of them fighting to attract the landlocked countries to use their port; and the consequent government declaration of Ghana as the gateway to West Africa.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Most organizations with the aim of attaining higher productivity end up saddling employees with overload of work in order to meet deadline and this might have psychological and physical effects on the employees which may result in something contrary to what these organizations want to achieve. Although organizations are paying more attention than in the past to the consequences of the trauma their employees go through when they place extra-ordinary demands on them, there is still more room for improvement. Again to generate enough revenue to be self-sustaining and to be able to fund the acquisition of modern equipment meant efficient service provision and optimal employment of resources.
Quite recently, the conflict in La Cote D’Ivoire which saw its borders closed to the rest of the world caused most of the freight meant for its land-locked neighbours redirected to Ghana increasing the freight load at the harbours by three-fold. This changed the GPHA, Takoradi from a passive service provider to a very proactive customer focused organization doing all it can, not only to provide services but to help attract investment to the country and help retain those already using the port.
For this reason there has been the need for a continuous change in management strategies and administration, and the demands on employees to perform have been increasing. This has brought a lot of pressure on the employees, who are expected to deliver a world class service
without the corresponding increase resources and training, yet those who fail to deliver are threatened with dismissal and other forms of punishment. With jobs very difficult to come by these days in Ghana, many employees are crumbling under this pressure. Cases of employee stress are therefore on the ascendancy.
It is in this view that this study is being conducted to identify the effects stress has on the productivity of employees of Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, Takoradi.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The objectives of the study are to:
i. Ascertain the causes of stress in GPHA, Takoradi.
ii. Find out whether stress has any effect on the productivity of employees in GPHA, Takoradi.
iii. Find out how employees at GPHA, Takoradi handle stress.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following questions guided the study:
i. What are the causes of stress in GPHA, Takoradi?
ii. Does stress have any effect on the productivity of employees in GPHA, Takoradi?
iii. How do employees at GPHA, Takoradi handle stress?
iv. What stress management strategies have been employed by GPHA to help employees to manage stress?
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The purpose of the study was to find out the effects or impacts of stress on employees’ productivity. The researcher believes that this study was very important and would go a long way to notifying all organizations, most especially those in the service sector on the need to ensure the effective management of stress for their employees. The study will also add to existing store of knowledge. Thus, the findings will add to studies that have been done, so that people in other part of the country can also appreciate the problem. It will also provide suggestions on how to reduce the effects of stress on output. Again, it will be a source for further research and of relevance to stakeholders.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study focused on Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, Takoradi as one of the major ports of entry in Ghana so as to get an in depth and comprehensive understanding of what is happening at GPHA and make the research meaningful.
Drawbacks are an inevitable part of almost every venture individuals carry out and overcoming them prepares or fortifies one for other tasks ahead. Even though these challenges to some extent hampered the progress of the study, they also helped in putting researchers on their toes to work tirelessly around the clock in making the success of this study a reality.
In as much as lots of commitment and zeal was employed in conducting an intensive and thorough study, certain impediments were encountered
This study was necessarily limited in scope due to series of resource limitations as well as practical research limitations and notable ones were:
• Time constraint, in the sense that time allocated for conducting this study was very short to allow for adequate data collection and this short time had to be divided between the main academic work which included preparation for face to face and examinations.
• The reluctance of respondents to answer the questionnaire during the data collection process which was critical in providing the needed inputs for the research work. This has been the problem in Ghana, where information flow could be tainted with excessive bureaucracy and suspicion and sometimes fears of victimization by superior officers. Some respondents did not cooperate with the researcher during the data collection period.
• Financial constraint was also a problem the researcher faced in undertaking the study. This is because the case study area was in Western Region while the researcher was in Eastern Region.
1.8 ORGANISATION OF THE STUDY
The study was organized into five chapters. Chapter one introduced the study by giving the background information on the research problem, objectives, research questions and scope of the study. Chapter two dealt with the review of relevant literature on the research problems and concepts with specific reference to how it applies in organizations. Chapter three discussed the research methodology adopted for the study and relevant justifications. Chapter four presented the findings on the effects of stress on productivity in Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, Takoradi. Chapter five also presented the conclusions drawn from the research findings and recommendations to enhance organizational effectiveness through management of stress.