1.1BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
There has been an increasing amount of talk about “employee stress” over the past decade. Quite what it is and how best to combat it are two aspects which are rather less-documented. Stress is a more subjective topic than most we have so far encountered. People may have widely differing views about its causes, impacts and, even, very existence. The workplace of the 21st century is a fast-paced, 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 university workers. Whilst pressure has its positive side in raising performance, if such pressure becomes excessive it can lead to stress which has negative consequences (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. Where the incidence of such stress is traceable to a job or work situation, it is known as work stress (Narayanan et al 1999). As Narayanan et al (1999) further observe work stress could in fact be identified with almost any aspect of a job or work situation such as extremes of heat, noise and light, or too much or too little responsibility etc. According to Irene (2005), Work stress ‘… is a pattern of reactions that occurs when workers are presented with work demands that are not matched to their knowledge, skills or abilities, and which challenge their ability to cope’. It is evident from this Irene’s definition that work stress is mostly associated with under-employment. Stress at work is a relatively new phenomenon of modern lifestyles. 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. With change comes stress, inevitably. In most cases, work stress is attributable to negative situations such as a formal reprimand by one’s superior for poor performance. Pleasant circumstances could also bring about work stress, such as job promotion and transfer to another location. Work stress has attracted considerable attention in recent times especially within the context or organisational behaviour (Kazmi et al 2008; Shahu and Gole 2008; Nilufar et al 2009). Most research findings suggest that when an individual comes under stress, his cognitive performance and decision-making may be adversely affected. Kazmi et al (2008) investigated the effect of work 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 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 stress that often results from organisational settings through poor management can be debilitating. There is evidence to suggest that there are ways in which an organisation can help to reduce instances of work stress, or better manage the issue when it arises. Effective people management, good two-way communication between employers’ and employees’, suitable working environments and effective work organisations are just some of the factors which can have an impact. However, there is the need to examine critically, the nature and effect of work stress among the workers of an organization before suggesting ways by...