1.1 Background of the study
Work was the major activities of man before the industrial revolution, that was the period marked with mechanization of work, presently computer is representing mechanization thereby turning the work into automation. The 21st century has witnessed a lot of advancement both in science and technology. This advancement has been growing rapidly since the end of the Second World War both in manufacturing, aviation, medicine, engineering, finance and administration, such advances has affected adversely in all aspects of life. This technological advancement includes the modern office automation which we use in our day to day activities in the business organizations (Ajayi, 2000).
However modern automation in all works of life does not exempt secretarial productivity. The required unchanged while the procedure continues to change as more and more sophisticated machines are introduced in the office.
The impacts brought about the invention of the new office machines are immeasurable many of those office automation out-ways the secretaries performance due to their effectiveness, speed and time saving. The introduction of most office automation might go as far as costing secretaries their jobs as a result of limited numbers being employed (Merony, 2001).
The fear of cost of craftsmanship as new product (automation) replaces the old ones becomes the issue at stake. Consequently, the issue of bearing extra cost in training and retraining secretaries to get accustomed with these inventions becomes a problem. There is apprehension in offices by secretaries as to what is t heir fate due to inventions and innovations in modern technologies. The computer has been invented to do many things that are hitherto done by the secretary. A chief executive can stay in his office or room to make flight and hotel reservations. He can manage information. He does not need any knowledge of keyboard to input his information. He can now use a pen to input his letter or document on the computer and with internet facility and with efficient server he can send his mail and receive reply. He can store, edit, retrieve and print his information.
However, the secretary’s roles and personal attributes still make him somebody to reckon with in the office and in the organization.
There are wide range of office machines and equipment which now enable secretaries to improve their performances. Such new machines take the form of electronic typewriters that have replaced the manual ones. Word processors with multi-purpose facilities, computers and other sophisticated office machines and equipment are now provided by employers. Some of the physical equipment used by secretaries includes computer communication equipment and electronic pocket organizers (Lucas, 2007). New technological equipment that has altered the procedures and technique for office functions include the computers, electronic mail/commerce, voice mail, and the internet. A secretary is an office-staff who combines the mastery secretarial skills of typewriting and shorthand with office routine functions. Automation is an innovation and a consequence of the industrial revolution. It is a collection of methods for controlling machinery and production processes by mechanical method, usually with electronic equipment. Spencer (2001) defined automation as the process of replacing human work with work done by machines or system designed to perform a specific combination of action automatically or repeatedly. Mayer (2007) defines a secretary as an executive assistant, who possesses a mastery of office skills, demonstrates the ability to assume responsibility with or without supervision, exercises initiatives and judgment and makes decision within the scope of assigned authority. It means that a qualified secretary should have a wide knowledge of business acumen, versatile knowledge in accounting, personnel, office practice, and communication and inside knowledge of the operation of all departments within the organization where he works, unlike a half-baked secretary who possesses only knowledge of shorthand, typewriting and basic office practices. The advent of the word processor has helped to make the secretarial career path cleaner. For a secretary to be employable in an automated office, Merony (2001) believed that such a secretary must be well versed in the following specific automated office equipment training:
i. The concept and theory of specific automated office equipment.
ii. Knowledge of the categories of equipment and their intended uses and differences.
iii. The skill to use resources or reference materials properly.
iv. Hands-on equipment training, etc.
The success of the newly introduced equipment depends on people, procedure and equipment (PPE). Automation can only be successful if a careful study is carried out to assure the need of the equipment and the financial resources available for the purpose. It is important to note however, that technology is not static; therefore it is essential that while planning to equip the office with modern technology, great care should be taken of the changing nature of technology. As such finance should not be invested into technology that is likely to become obsolete in a short time. It is believed that for new equipment to be installed in any organization, it has to win the good will of the staff, since they are the ones to use it. By getting the good will of the user staff, the introduction and procedures will be accepted and effective.
An automated office, undoubtedly, offers new roles and responsibilities for the secretary. Such new roles presuppose that additional training and qualifications are required from the secretaries. The relevance of automation in business was identified by Aromolaran (2003) as follows
i. Creating a distinct career path for the secretary.
ii. Automation creates a prominent place for the secretary on the organization chart.
iii. It creates routine and assigned roles for the secretary.
iv. With automation the secretary now spends less time in correcting, revising, proof-reading and reproducing documents.
1.2 Statement of the problem
The world is undergoing a rapid change due to the innovation of modern automation. The evolution continues and financial institutions in Nigeria, in order to cope with the modern age needs to know the effects of all these automated machines on staff output. What are the effects of these changes on the productivity of secretaries in the office, his or her ability to cope, his/her job security, her relevance to the office work for which she is employed and moreover, the training which is to prepare her to meet the challenges of her ever-changing work environment. For financial institutions to equip their office with modern automation they need enough capital to import these machines since they are not produced in Nigeria. Modern office automation as we know needs expertise as regards to repair and like air-conditioned room, isolated pace and wide space. It is against this background that this study seeks to investigate into the challenges of modern automation on the job performance of secretaries in financial institutions with specific reference to Guarantee Trust Bank, Ijebu-ode.