academic staff assessment of the role of communication in the stress management
The craze to satisfy physiological and psychological needs has brought a lot of pressure to bear on man. We all face different challenges and obstacles, and sometimes, pressure is hard to handle.
Our prehistoric fathers who encountered wild beasts, an interviewee who faces a panel in a job interview, a witness who stands to testify before a court, a man whose wife is in labour, a fire-fighter in a burning house, workers in an advertising agency, who must meet a deadline, a student who walks into an examination hall unprepared, and a woman, whose child is hit by a moving vehicle, all have a common experience – stress.
Stress is a naturally occurring phenomenon and cannot be avoided in man’s day to day activity.
Hans Selye, cited in Akpan (2008 p.7) defines it as the rate of wear and tear within the body, occasioned by certain stimuli. Factors that cause stress are called stressors.
Man, like other animals, has an inborn response to stressful situations called “fight or flight” response. An example is the case of our prehistoric fathers who had to decide whether to battle or flee from a rampaging carnivore.
People have similar physiological reactions to stress. Blood pressure rises, heart rate soars, breathing speeds and muscles get ready for action. That is wear and tear.
Stress may arise from problems in the home, health challenges, emotional problems or issues in the workplace, among others.
According to the National Consumers’ League, work is the top source of stress for adults who have problems and stress in their lives. Awake (February 8, 2005). Job stress is a common concern among many countries of the world, both developing and industrialized. Bratton and Gold (1997) capture the situation in Canada “Toronto workers are almost three times more likely to complain of health problems arising from workplace stress than from work related illness or injuries.
Work related stress affects workers across the employment sector. Especially vulnerable are those involved in human oriented services such as social workers, doctors, nurses and teachers.
For Academic staff of universities, stress may arise from managing students, compiling results, meeting deadlines, and completing paperwork. If one adds this to the stress related to their personal lives like running households and taking care of finances, the result may be an overload of their functioning capabilities.
When effectively managed, stress can yield positive consequences, but when ignored or ineffectively managed, the results can be detrimental to the wellbeing of the staff, the performance of the students and the overall output of the institution concerned.
Many intervention or management strategies exist. Some focus directly on removing avoidable stressors, or removing staff from stressful environments. Others help employees alter their perception of the environment so that the effects of the stressors are cushioned. Fitness and lifestyle programmes encourage employees to build better physical defense against stress experiences and social support provides emotional, informational and material resources to buffer the stress experience.
Irrespective of the stress management techniques tried, the proper application of these techniques needs to be communicated to people in the organization. How the communication is carried, the purpose for which it is carried out and the channel/media of information as well as the feedback from message recipients go a long way in making any stress management strategy effective. This is where the concern of this study is preferred.
· Statement of the Problem
A cursory examination of the corporate life in Nigeria, suggests that the education sector is among the busiest. Academic staff are known to be very busy, working even at non-official hours.
Over the years, scholarly studies have identified workplace stressors for lecturers and suggested possible stress management strategies.
However, very little research has been done on the role that communication plays in the application of these strategies. This study therefore seeks to examine the extent to which communication plays its informative, mediatory and interpretative roles in the stress management programme for academic staff of the University of Uyo. In other words, to what extent has communication exercised some informative, interpretative and mediatory roles in stress management among academic staff of the University of Uyo.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
1. To identify the prevalent stressors among the Academic Staff of the University of Uyo.
2. To find out stress reduction activities or programmes communicated to academic staff of the University of Uyo.
3. To assess the extent of the informative role of communication in stress management among the Academic staff of the University.
4. To assess the extent of the interpretative role of communication in stress management among the academic staff of the University.
5. To assess the extent of the mediatory role of communication in stress management among the Academic staff of the university.
6. To examine the effectiveness of communication as a factor in stress management among the Academic staff of the University.
1.4 Research Questions
1. What are the prevalent stressors among Academic staff of the University of Uyo?
2. What stress reduction activities or programmes are communicated to Academic staff of the University of Uyo?
3. To what extent does communication play an informative role in stress management among the Academic staff of the University?
4. To what extent does communication play an interpretative role in stress management among Academic staff of the University of Uyo?
5. To what extent does communication play a mediatory role in stress management among Academic staff of the university?
6. How effective is communication as a factor in stress management among Academic staff in the University of Uyo.
1.5 Significance of the Study
A large body of research, as shown in the reviewed literature, agrees with the fact that when stress is overwhelming, it impacts negatively on virtually every aspect of human life. Some effects of workplace stress are job dissatisfaction, lack of organizational commitment and poor performance. This can lead to loss in productivity, and uncalculated expenses. This makes a study of this nature of utmost importance.
The first beneficiary of this study will be the management of the institution under study and their Academic staff, given that the role of communication will be highlighted to the extent that it will be given adequate attention and positively influence staff output.
Other institutions of learning and corporate bodies, whose employees face similar stressors, would also apply the solutions proferred in this study to employee management in their organizations.
Nigeria and other societies will also benefit from this study as the application of the results will eventually facilitate the turnout of improved species of human resources.
Last, researchers and scholars in the fields of communication, education and organizational behaviour will find a sound resource material in the findings of this study.
· Scope of the Study
In this study, centralization will be given to occupational stress, as well as its direct link with individual and corporate situations.
The major challenge encountered by the researcher in the course of this study was time. It took the researcher several days to gather relevant materials for the research. Besides, the Registrar of the institution, whom the researcher considered a more credible source of information for the research could not be reached.
Lastly, some resource materials were lost in a robbery attack, and therefore could not be included in the references.
· Definition of Terms
Stress: The physiological, psychological and behavioural responses to stressors.
Stressors: Environmental or organizational factors which cause discomfort or mount pressure on a person.
Job Stress: The harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the is a poor match between job demands and the capabilities, resources and/or needs of an employee.
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