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1.1 Background of Study
Stress is a psychological and physical response to events that upset our personal balance. It is the body’s physical, mental and chemical reactions to circumstances that frighten, excite, confuse, endanger or irritate it. Stress is also the reaction that people have to excessive pressures or other types of demands placed upon them and it arises when they cannot cope (Umeasiegbu, 1988; Anderson 2005; Belmonte, 2007).
For most people, life is a succession of stressful experiences, and that stress is part of life from childhood (Asuni, Schoenberg, and Swift, 1994). Individuals today live in stressful conditions brought by the changing circumstances of life due to technological innovations, socio-cultural, economical and political conditions and unfulfilment of desires and needs. Stress is therefore an adaptive response to situations that is perceived as challenging or threatening to the individual’s well-being (Asuni, et al 1994; McShane and Von Glinow, 2005). For any stressful condition confronting an individual, there are two possible outcomes. Either the stress is coped with successfully (Mastery), or it is dealt with unsuccessfully. Mastering a major stress experience increases the individual’s sense of adequacy and confidence, at the same time prepares him better for the challenges ahead, while, if he fails, the opposite can be expected (Umeasiegbu, 1988, 2002).
Generally, stress producing conditions are called stressors (Adeyanju, 1986), and in all human activities, there must be certain degree of activation or arousal which stimulates an individual into action. However, this activation or arousal varies in magnitude, intensity and duration but the actual fact is what may be stressful to one person may not be so to another.This is because people differ in the ways of coping with it (Singer, 1980, Back, Bogdonoff, and Baron 1990). According to Biscomb (2008), stress has both psychological and physiological dimensions. Psychologically people perceive a situation and interpret it as challenging or threatening. This cognitive appraisal leads to a set of physiological responses, such as high blood pressure, sweaty hands, dry mouth, trembling, headache and faster heart beat.
Individuals encounter different stressors in their daily lives. Belmonte (2007) pointed out that daily causes of stress are environmental, interpersonal, work-related and socio-cultural. Environmental stressors include an unsafe neighbourhood, pollution, noise, and uncomfortable living conditions. Interpersonal stressors can be problems with friends, romantic partners, marital disagreements, dysfunctional relationships and the like, while work stressors include job dissatisfaction, an exhausting workload, insufficient pay, office politics, career uncertainty and the like. The examples of sociocultural stressors can be poverty, financial pressures, unemployment, isolation and so on, while internal stressors include personality issues like low self-esteem, excessive or unexpressed anger, and impatience.
The specific signs and symptoms of stress vary widely from person to person (Anderson, 2005). Some people primarily experience physical symptoms such as low back pain, stomach problems, headache, muscle tension, stiffness, nausea, rapid heartbeats, dry throat and skin outbreaks. In others the stress pattern centers around emotional symptoms such as moodiness, restlessness, short temper, depression, impatience, and irritability. While for others, it may be changes in the way they think
(like memory loss, indecisiveness, inability to concentrate) or behave (like using drugs, alcohol, nervous habit such as nail biting, pacing) predominates (Anderson, 2005; Heeres, 2007).
Coping with stress on the other hand, refers to an individual’s constantly changing cognitive and internal demands or conflict (Gould, Finch and Jackson, 1993). Coping encompasses a range of purposeful responses to a stressor, from appraisal of the situation (for example, assessing the situation relative to degree of threat) to stress coping via effortful response for example, relaxation strategies, social support (Gould et al, 1993; Back et al, 1990). According to Mc Quade and Aikman (1974) coping includes all attempts to manage stress (both cognitive and behavioural efforts) regardless of the effectiveness of the attempts. There are many techniques of coping with stress. However, the use of techniques depends on the individual person involved and the stressor encountered (Adeyanju, 1992; Carter, 2005). According to Taylor (2001), coping strategies refer to the efforts, both behavioural and psychological, that people employ to master, tolerate, reduce or minimise stressful events.
Generally coping strategies include building physical reserve (through exercise and relaxation training), mental coping strategies, which are characterized by individual’s effort to think positively and turn potentially negative feelings into positive ones, maintaining emotional reserve (pursuing realistic goals, controlling frustrations, failures and sorrows), mediation, biofeedback, visual imagery, social support, time management and the like (Adeyanju, 1986, 1992; Taylor, 2001; Carter, 2005).
Here in Nigeria, this investigator has found that the main sources of stress among Nigerian university athletes during competitions are expectations and pressure to perform, and that the sources of stress vary according to sport groups, habits and habitat of an individual (Madaki, 2005). Madaki therefore suggested that investigations on sources and management of stress in different organizations and occupations are very necessary to design appropriate stress management strategies. With the above in mind, coupled with the need to formulate a new approach towards solving the problem of how to cope with work-related (organisational) stress, the researcher attempts to investigate the sources of stress, as well as the preventive and proactive stress coping strategies of administrative and technical staff of Nigerian sport councils.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Stress and its negative consequences is a great threat/challenge of modern living.
People are stressed from variety of daily hussles and employees are not free from stress. Employees frequently experience stress (Organizational stress) that increase their risk of mental and physical health and thus hurt their job performance (Carter, 2005; Daniel, 2008).
According to Daniel (2008) organizational stressors or stress stimuli are those organisational factors that in some way induce stress upon the individuals involved. They are the factors that serve to induce stressed behaviour, disrupt the flow of operations, dampen performance and productivity and generally make life more difficult for everyone in the organization. Stewart (2008) identified four main types of organizational or work-related stressors and they are inter-personal stressors, role-related stressors, task control stressors and physical environmental stressors. Interpersonal stressors include office politics, sexual harassment, victimization, bullying and so on, while role-related stressors include conditions where employees have difficulty in understanding, reconciling or performing the various roles in their lives. Example of role-related stressors are role-conflict, role ambiguity and work overload. Task-control stressors include losing job and high responsibility (example of high responsibility is like
a coach under immense pressure to win games), while physical environmental stressors include reduced job security, chaos of change, additional workload, and noise.
As stress is endemic in our organizational settings and society in general, a lot of this stress might be due to the way we conduct our daily routine, and that it has a significant effect on our work practices, decision making, planning, performance and general well being (Anderson, 2007). This study is therefore intended to investigate the likely sources of stress experienced by administrative and technical staff of Nigerian sports councils. Devonport et al (2008) reported that high levels of organizational stress if not resolved, will undermine the quality, productivity and creativity of employee’s work and detract their health, well being and morale. The study would also look into the preventive and proactive stress coping strategies used by such employees in order to cope with the challenges of the encountered stressors in their organizational dispensations. Preventive stress coping strategies are concerned with preparation for uncertain events in more distant future. The intention is to develop resources to lessen the consequences of a stressful event, while proactive stress coping strategies is concerned with general resources, that facilitates the achievement of personal goals and working towards personal growth. These strategies have been reported as useful ways in dealing with work-related burnout, also those individuals employing preventive and proactive coping strategies were more likely to experience a higher sense of efficacy in their jobs (Anderson, 2008; Devonport et al 2008). Gillespie (2001), in his study reported that preventing chronic organizational stress through appropriate preventative and proactive coping will preserve staff well-being and organizational performance.
As observed by the researcher, the administrative and technical staff formed the bulk of the staff in state’s sports councils that run the affairs of the council towards achieving the goals/objectives of sports and sports participation in a state. These individuals are most at times under stress due to many reasons. As some sports councils are not financially stable, funds are only released for schedules like participation or organizing competitions. When such money is allocated, coupled with the absence of a long term plan, employees are confused on what to do, where to begin and how to achieve. Hence they tend to encounter strenuous stress in an attempt to meet up with the demand. Organizing Secretaries, for example, face problems of lack of funds to prepare on time for transportation, accommodation and logistics while Coaches encounter problems with preparation/selection of teams and arranging necessary facilities to use. Both groups are under stress because (upon all this) expectations are much on them to achieve/or succeed (Uever, 2007). On the other hand, Coaches who have not gone for training for years encounter stress when exposed to many challenges of using new devices, adopting new rules, counteracting new game tactics and so forth. This gives room to a fire-brigade approach to issues which are characterized by confusion, mistakes and errors.
Furthermore, the administrative and technical staff of Nigerian sports councils are individuals of different gender, age groups, and varied in their educational qualifications, working experiences as well as designations. This study would therefore investigate their sources of stress experiences and also ascertain whether the afore mentioned demographic characteristics influence or affect the sources of stress they encounter, and the preventive and proactive stress coping strategies they use to deal with the advent of the stressors they encounter for their well being and productive services in their organizational settings.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The objectives of the study are to:
i. Ascertain the causes of stress in Star Paper Mill, Nigeria.
ii. Find out whether stress has any effect on the productivity of managers in Star Paper Mill, Nigeria.
iii. Find out how managers at Star Paper Mill, Nigeria handle stress.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following questions guided the study:
i. What are the causes of stress in Star Paper Mill, Nigeria?
ii. Does stress have any effect on the productivity of managers in Star Paper Mill, Nigeria? iii. How do managers at Star Paper Mill, Nigeria handle stress?
iv. What stress management strategies have been employed by Star Paper Mill, Nigeria to help managers 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 managers’ 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 managers. 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 Star Paper Mill, Nigeria, Takoradi as one of the major ports of entry in Nigeria so as to get an in depth and comprehensive understanding of what is happening at Star Paper Mill, Nigeria 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 Nigeria, 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 Star Paper Mill, Nigeria, Takoradi. Chapter five also presented the conclusions drawn from the research findings and recommendations to enhance organizational effectiveness through management of stress.
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