Workplace stress at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Stress, very simply, is a built-in condition. Humans are hard-wired to have a physical and psychological ―stress" reaction when facing a perceived threat, whether it is real or not. Irrespective of its definition or its source, excessive workplace stress has serious repercussions for both employees and employers. Everyone experiences stress differently because of various reasons and reacts differently to stress in the face of the same stressor. Stressors produce different stress levels in different people: combined with the external factors of stress (potential stressors) it has been found that how one is affected by that stressor depends on how one perceives this stressor, based on its relative importance to the person and the traits and characteristics of the person e.g. reactions in face of a challenge or threat. As an effect of stress, one reacts physically, psychologically and behaviourally, and has negative consequences rather than positive consequences, which affect both physical and mental well-being and performance at work. These have serious implications for businesses, especially in this highly competitive and dynamic environment. This study endeavoured to identify the causes of workplace stress at the University of KwaZulu- Natal and whether the merger between the former Universities of Natal and Durban-Westville has contributed to workplace stress. The sources of stress were identified and its effect on work performance was acknowledged. The main aim of this study was to assist employees and management alike to address the disparities of stress and to cope with stress. To prove the objectives of this study an on-line questionnaire was sent out to respondents using QuestionPro to obtain their views on the effects of stress that they have felt in the past 2 years and how they rate their workplaces. The results of the survey found that 90.3% of respondents experienced stress in the last two years while 9.7% had no experience of stress over the same period. In terms of the impact of workplace stress on work performance, 64% of the respondents indicated that stress has had a negative impact on their work performance while 26% indicated that workplace stress had no impact on their work performance. The majority of respondents felt that in order to reduce stress at UKZN, management should increase pay (rated as most relevant) followed by line managers should show more respect and empathy towards staff. Staff also indicated that stress management workshops and counselling should be provided for staff. After embarking on this research and identifying with the stress within UKZN, it was recommended that UKZN increase the awareness of stress counselling and management programmes to effectively help employees cope with stress.