INFLUENCE OF GENDER AND JOB STATUS ON EMPLOYEE STRESS AMONG THE NIGERIAN POLICE FORCE
It is therefore no exaggeration to say that people today the world over are being assaulted by stress in their various job activities. Job stress is therefore a common concern among many countries of the world both developed and industrialized. This has led these countries to have a lot of concern on it and its adverse effect on workers health especially among the Nigerian police force worker to which this project will mostly emphasize. Job stress in general perspective is refer to the discomfort, pressure and hardship experienced by workers in their process of work. By psychological terms, it is the psychological and physical strain or tension generated by physical, emotional, social, economic, occupational circumstances, events or experiences that are difficult to manage or endure by workers.
According to researchers or authors, employee’s stress is a critical factor in the determination of employee’s performance and well-being, it also has important implication for organizational at effectiveness. Contributors to the idea of stress at work are in greet number, some researchers emphasized that stress is a multi dimensional concept that includes stress stimuli the processing of system, and the long stress response. This concept was asserted by Steven and Mary (2002) who defined stress as a Perce wed as challenging or threatening for a person’s well being.
According to Ivancerich and Malterson (1980) they conceptualized stress at work as an adaptive response mediated by individual characteristics and or psychological processes that is a consequence of any external action, situation or event that places special demand on a person. Similarly, Krant, Gruenberg and Baum (1998) captured the meaning of employee stress as an internal state of the individual who perceive threats to physical and or psychic well being. The definition emphasized a person’s perception and evaluation of potentially harmful stimuli and considers the perception of threat to arise from a comparison between the individual’s ability to cope with these demands. Also, an Australian-born researcher, Selye (1974, 1983) defined stress as the wear and tear on the body due to demands place on it. He used the general adaptation syndrome (GAS) as a term for the common effects on when demand are place on it. The (GAS) he uses consists of three stages: the alarm stage, resistance stage and the exhaustion stage.
In the alarm stage, the perception of a threat on challenging situation causes the brain to send biochemical message to various part of the body, resulting in increased respiration rate, blood pressure, heart beat, Muscle tension and other physiological responses. The individual energy level and coping effectiveness immediately decreases in response to the initial shocks. In most situations, the alarm reaction alerts the individual to the environmental condition and prepares the body for next stage. In the resistance stage of Selye’s (GAS), the person’s ability to cope with the environmental demand rises above the normal level because the body has activated various biochemical’s, psychological and behavioral mechanism, for instance there are an increased level of adrenaline more than the normal level which gives energy to overcome or remove street source. However, resistances is directed to one or two environmental demands so that the individual becomes more vulnerable or weak to the sources of stress and individuals at this stage are prone to catch cold or other illness.
The final stage which is the exhaustion stage occurs when people have a limited resistance capacity and if the sources of stress persist, they will eventually move into it as it diminishes. At this point, the wear and tear on the body takes its toll the person collapses in a state of exhaustion, and vulnerability for diseases increases. However, the stress level of a worker increases when the Job do not meet their expectation (Rabasca 1999). When employees find their work personally rewarding, they are better able to handle stress at their work place than when the work is not rewarding. Stress at work emanates form deferent sources. It could be form over work, Job insecurity, information overload, role related stressors etc. Steven and Mary (2000) categorized potential work-related stressors as physical or environmental, role-related, interpersonal and organizational stressors. According to them, physical or environmental stressors such as excessive noise, poor lighting and safety hazard physical stressors are also becoming apparent in office settings such as poorly designed office, space, lack of privacy and poor air quality.
Environmental or physical stress at work according to Steven (1999) includes environmental uncertainties such as economic uncertainties which occurs when the economy of the country is contracting, political uncertainties which occurs when there are political threats and challenges, lastly technological uncertainties which occurs when there are new innovation or introduction of new ideas which can make the skills and experience of employees obsolete or no longer used in a very short time. Such new ideas are threaten and they include automation, robotics, computers etc these and similar other forms of technological innovations are a threat to many people and cause them stress.
The second work-related stressors is the role related stressors which include conditions where employees have difficult in understanding, reconciling or performing the various roles in their lives. There are four main roles related stressors which are role conflicts, role ambiguity, work load and task characteristics. Role conflict occurs when people face competing demand. There are several types of role conflict in organizational setting, such are inter role conflict which occurs when an employee has too many roles that are in conflict with each other.
Intra role conflict occurs when the individual receives contradictory massages from different people. For instance, when one’s boss wants one as a team leader and expects him to take greater control in the decision making, where as the employees on the team would expect the person to give them freedom. Such situation could contribute to stress to the leader. Person role conflicts as form of role conflict occurs when organizations values and work. Obligations are incompatible or not acceptable with personal values.
Michael (1992) also maintains that role ambiguity results from an unclear understanding of the specific responsibilities that constitute a role. This uncertainty can result when it is unclear how much authority an individual has in making an organizational decision and carrying out his or her duties effectively. This tends to occurs when people enter new situation such as joining the organization or taking a foreign assignment. In this case they are uncertain about tasks and social expectations. They can not rely on past routine, so they concentrate on their actions and carefully monitor responses from others. Work loads according Michael (1992) as another role-related stressors is likely occur when organizations reduce their workforce and restructure work, leaving remaining employees with move task and fewer resources or time to complete them. Work that is under load can also cause stress and it occurs when employees receive too little or are given tasks that do not make sufficient use of their skills and knowledge.
Finally, it is the task characteristics that occurs when work involves decision making, monitoring equipment or exchanging information with others. Matterson and Ivancevich (1982), stated that whatever the causes, the inability to go along with others workers is one of the most common sources of stress in the work place. However inter personal stress results from difficulties in interpersonal relationship on the Job. Such interpersonal stress stems form difficulty in developing and maintaining relationship with other people in the work setting. This type of stressors could be informed of sexual harassment, work place violence and aggression.
The organizational factor is another source of stress, it should not be there fore surprise that major change in a work organization tend to cause stress, according to be(Leiter and Marvie, 1998). Thus, people tend to grow accustomed to certain work procedures and work structures and they resist change. Most people prefer things to remain stable and predictable. Such stability in the working environment seems comforting and reassuming, therefore, when there is a restructuring, people tend to be stressed because there will be new demands from the work.
However, there are non-work stressors that affect works effectiveness such as financial difficulties, relationship problems, loss of loved ones, birth of a child and mortgages. These problems are worthy of mention because people do not park them at the door when they enter the work place. They carry over and literately these affect workers behaviour result to low productivity. Consequently, there are also heaths risks that are associated with work-related stress which in dangers the health condition of a worker. Stress has both physiological and psychological dimensions. The predictable result of greater work related stresses are increased risk of psychological and physical health problem. (Micguine, 1999, Nelson, Quick; Simmons 2001) Psychological stress can cause dissatisfaction in the Job, this Job-related stress lead to Job-related dissatisfaction. Apart form this common consequence, it can also lead to tension, anxiety, irritability, boredom and procrastination Stephen (1998), asserts that when people are placed in Jobs that make multiple and conflicting demands or in which there is a lack of clarity to the incumbents duties, authority and responsibilities, both stress and dissatisfaction are increased. Similarly the less control people have over the space of their work, the greater the stress and dissatisfaction.
Stressed workers also experience what we called Job Burnout that is the process of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and reduced personal accomplishment resulting from prolonged exposure to stress. So Job burnout is a complex process that includes the dynamics of stress, coping strategies and stress consequences. This means that it is a complex demand made on people who serve or frequently interact with others. Stress also has behavioural effect or implication on workers. This evidence in Job performance and work place accidents. High stress levels at work impair one’s ability to remember information, make effective decision and take appropriate action when needed. While over stressed employees also tend to have higher levels of absenteeism. Absenteeism is a coping mechanism because an employee temporally with draws from stressful situation so that he or she would have the opportunity to re-energized.
Physiologically, stress takes it toll on human body. According to researcher, health has been implicated in stress. it is liked with diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer and the destruction of the immune system, for example, stress can contribute to cardiovascular diseases in several ways (Fogoras, 2001), people who have major life challenges such as loss of job and loss of loved ones have higher incident of cardiovascular diseases and early death (Taylor,2003). The body’s internal reactions to stress are not only risky, people who lives in a chronically stressed condition are likely to take up smoking, start over eating and avoid excise. All these stress related behaviour are linked with the development of cardiovascular diseases (Shineiderman, 2001). Also, the immune system is implicated in stress. Three line of research support the conclusion that the immune system and stress are linked (Anderson, 2002) they are acute stressors which are sudden on time line events than can produce immunological changes. For instance, in relatively healthy Hiv-infected individuals, as well as individual with cancer, acute stressors are associated with proper immune system functioning (Reberts, Anderson and Lubarof, 1994). Chronic stressors are those that are long lasting, which are also associated with an increasing down turn in immune system responsiveness rather than adaptation (Irwin, 2002).
The third which is positive social circumstance and low stress are associated with increased ability to fight cancer. For instance having good social relationship and supports the conclusion that the immune system and stress are naked (Anderson, 2002) they are acute stressors which are sudden on time line events than can produce immunological changes. For instance, in relatively healthy HIV infected individuals, as well as individual with cancer, acute stressors are associated with proper immune system functioning (Roberts, Anderson and Lubarof, 1994) chronic stressors are those that are long lasting, which are also associated with an increasing down turn in immune system responsiveness rather than adaptation (Irwin, 2002).
The third which is positive social circumstance and low stress are associated with increased ability to fight cancer. For instance having good social relationship and support is often linked with higher NK-cell level (NK stands for “Natural Killer”), whereas a high degree of stress is often related to lower NK-cell level (Levy, 1990). In a more recent study, combination of personal and job factor placed individuals at risk for getting side (Shanbroeck, Jone, Xic, 2001). Each member of an organisation has his or her own style of behaving. Employees who perceived they had control over the job responsibilities but didn’t have confidence in their problem-solving abilities or who blamed themselves for bad outcome were the likeliest to experience stress. These types of situation place employees at risk of getting infection.
Employee’s stress is inevitable in organizations, including the Nigerian police force. The coping strategies adopted by the stressed therefore makes that paramount different in its effect on human (Passer and Smith 2001). Although men and women both use problem-focused coping , but men are more likely to favour it as the first strategy they use when they confront a stressor at work. On the other hand, women, who tend to have larger support network and higher needs for affiliation than men are more likely than men to seek social support (Billing and Moos 1998, Schwarzer 1998), but if there is a deficiency in this support, it becomes disastrous to women. Women also are somewhat more likely than men to report using emotional focused coping. This general, pattern of responding to stress is consistent with socialization that boys and girls traditionally experience. In most cultures, boys are pushed to be more independent, assertive and self-sufficient, whereas, girls are expected to be more emotionally expressive, supportive and dependent (Passer and Smith, 2001).
According to (Nolen-Hoeksema 2001) she observed that women are more prone than men to stress and by extension, they are more susceptible to all known anxiety disorders. Compared to men, women have two or three times the rate of panic with agoraphobia, three or four times more specific phobia, one and a half times more social phobia and two times more generalized anxiety disorder (Kessler & Nelson, 1995). All the above disorders are induced by stress. The question now is, why would women be more likely than men to experience stress and subsequently develop these disorders?
Nolen-Hoeksema suggest that women have a greater risk of stress at workplace, less coping strategy and by extension a greater risk of anxiety disorder because of their relationship with others. This idea by Nolen-Heeksema was supported by Chodorow, 1978, Horney, 1934, Miller, 1986 who mention that women generally have less power in organisation than men do and their status are typically tied to the men they are related to. this causes women to ching to others, play passive and subservient roles in relationship, express a sense of being vulnerable and defenseless and be hyper vigilant to any sign of problems in their relationships. For instance in the Nigeria police force, women are generally less in power, even the duties they perform and well specified, thus, secretarial duties, orderly, receptionish and other messelnious duties that may not prone them to tention. Even if she happen to be involve in some adhoelc duties, she must ching to a male canterpart. It has been impossible to have in Africa and world over a woman inspector general of Police, even if there are, it may be few. In Nigeria we have never experience one, not that they are not intelligent to administer, direct or control their subjects unlike the male canterpart, but when the job involves operational in nature which the leader must be physically present it becomes impossible for a woman to withstand the pressure.
In another study by Bruch and Cheek (1995). Women were found to experience greater level of exposure to stress than men in organizations. This also explains that these stressors could be implicated in mood disorder often experienced by women. According to Bruch and Cheek, men feel it is socially unacceptable to express stress and this may be more prone to confront their feared situations and thereby extinguish their anxiety. Secondly, men appear more likely than women to seek medical help for anxiety symptoms, especially panic attacks. Men may view these symptoms as annoying medical problem rather than signs of anxiety in their personalities. As a result, organizational men may be more likely than women do receive effective treatment in the early stages of possible anxiety disorder. Not all women who have stress symptoms seek appropriate help for them, however. Furthermore, women in many cultures face threats in their daily life that quite reasonably would lead them to be chronically anxious and more prone to all of the anxiety disorders. In particular, women are more likely than men to be target of physical and sexual abuse. Girls and women who have been physically or sexually abused are at increased risk for most anxiety disorders. In turn, women who have been abused are more likely to become unemployed, to have reduced income and become divorced thus, these women suffer a host of circumstance that are difficult to control, may be unpredictable and this contribute to anxiety. Even women who have not been victimized may be chronomically anxious due to persuasive threat of violence at work places (Nolen –Hoeksema, 2001). Both high and low status individuals, while at work place are been prone to stressors in one way or the other, but the facts lies on the question to know at which extent a junior officer are been affected with stress and to his senior.
The evidence therefore explain that in any organizational section then is a great disparity between the employer and employee in all aspect of work activities. Organizations take as its high job status individuals to be managing directors, managers, supervisors etc while low job status individuals as Forman, Messengers, Labourers etc. In the Nigerian Police Force, for instance the high job status individuals are called the Superior Police Officers (S.P.O.’s) which start from the rank of Assistant Superintendent of Police upwards while the Junior Officers are called the Rank and file which start from the rank of constable to an Inspector. The determination of the effect of stress on these two categories of personals in any organisation depends on their scope of responsibility which each group undertake.
The high job status individuals precisely have a greater role or task to do as against the lower job status canterpart. In an organisation, it is the duty of the employer to recruit, select and place its, employee’s in various work position. In order to enhance effectiveness in organization, the employer tries to direct, supervise, advice, control and instruct employee’s in the job activities to achieve greater result, all these chain of responsibilities contribute to stress on the side of the high job status individuals. In the Nigerian Police Force, the Superior Police Officers (SPO’s) suffer more stress than the junior police officers due to their scope of responsibility, large coverage and span of control. They take charge and control the Junior Police Officers on their various duties, visit them at their respective beat posted, supervise them administratively and be at the fore front of any operational duties. The time phrase for the superior police officers are unlimited in the aspect of work activities where as the Junior Police Officers are limited to eight hours (8hrs) depending on the nature of duty performed.
STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Dealing with stress is a concern both for the individuals and for the organisation. For individuals, it is important because life, health, productivity and income can be affected while for organisation, it is important not only for humanitarian reasons but also performance in all aspect. It therefore follows that organizational effectiveness can be affected if workers are prone to stress. Therefore the essence of this study is to investigate, how stressful the police job poses on the workers. The influence of gender on stress of officers in the police force. The influence of job status on stress of officers in the police force.
PURPOSE OF STUDY
This study aims at investigating the influence of Gender and Job Status on employees stress among the Nigerian Police Force. In precise terms, it is planed to:
Find out the reactions of policemen and policewomen to stress, in order words, the effect of gender on stress in the Nigerian Police Force.
Find out how senior police officers and junior police officers respond to stress, that is the influence of job status or rank on stress in the Nigerian police force.
OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS
Gender: This is the biological, social and cultural division into which man is classified. In this study, gender is used to mean being male or female participants.
Job Status: This is used in the study to mean junior police officers and senior police officers.
Job or Employee Stress: This is referring to the discomfort, hardship and pressure experience by workers in the process of work.