Work-related stress in Zimbabwe: an investigation into the nature and understanding of the psychosocial work environment in the financial services sector

Ndengu, Tarisayi (2020) Work-related stress in Zimbabwe: an investigation into the nature and understanding of the psychosocial work environment in the financial services sector. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Most people value work because of the material and psychological benefits that it offers. However, the workplace has become a source of both joy and in some situations sorrow in terms of ill health and in some cases fatalities. Nevertheless, the workplace is also a key place for safeguarding employees’ health through effective work organisation, management and design.

Most developing countries are concerned with the effect of physical aspects of the work environment on workers’ health, safety and well-being whereas most developed countries are now focusing on emerging psychosocial risks. Psychosocial risks have been established as important antecedents of health especially in developed countries where information on them is abundant. However, despite this information, there is a dearth of knowledge on the nature and effects of psychosocial risks in developing countries. The ILO (2016) observed the limited prevalence data on psychosocial hazards and on work-related stress in developing countries. The rise of psychosocial risks has been associated with globalisation, which has brought about many changes in the world of work, including intense competition (Jain & Leka, 2019). The banking sector has not been spared from these changes and their effects and is the focus of this research.

Moreover, psychosocial factors are associated with organisational costs in terms of absenteeism, poor performance, negative work attitudes and health costs. Psychosocial risks affect all workers despite their location. This is currently an understudied area in developing countries like Zimbabwe. Consequently, the overall objectives of this thesis were to first explore key stakeholder perspectives and their understanding of psychosocial risks and their relationship with individual and organisational health. Additionally, on the basis of the job demands-resources model, this research sought to explore the relationship between job demands (quantitative demands, emotional demands, work pace, work family conflict), and job resources (possibilities for development, social support from colleagues, social support from supervisors, quality of leadership, influence at work) with general well-being, job satisfaction, job performance, commitment to the workplace and work engagement.

A mixed method design was adopted in this research. Thirteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with key stakeholders representing government, regulatory authorities, workers’ unions, employers’ organisations and relevant professions. A follow-up quantitative study comprised of an online survey that was administered to five banks in Zimbabwe.

Thematic analysis results indicated that key stakeholders are generally aware of psychosocial risks and their effect on health but these are not prioritized due to other competing needs. There is no legislation pertaining to psychosocial risks and work-related stress although the Occupational Safety and Health policy of 2014 covers a few relevant aspects. Currently, there are no guidelines on implementation. Identified stressors included targets, long working hours and none or late payment of salaries. Barriers included lack of occupational health and safety funding, psychosocial risk prioritization and perception, cultural aspects and lack of research. Opportunities included supportive structures, knowledge of psychosocial issues and current interventions in place to manage safety and health. The priorities for action included training on psychosocial risks and inclusion of risk assessment principles in managing occupational safety and health.

Multiple regression analysis results indicated that job demands were negatively associated with general well-being and other organisational health criteria whilst job resources had positive relationships with the same. Interestingly, only work pace had a positive relationship with job performance, work engagement and good general-well-being. Finally, interaction results indicated that some specific job resources moderate the relationship of specific job demands on organisational outcomes. Furthermore, the findings suggest that certain job demands weakened the relationship between specific job resources and organisational outcomes.

This research has provided empirical support for the job demands-resources theory in an African country. Developing countries are encouraged to develop comprehensive policies in their efforts to manage occupational health. Workers are exposed to chemical, physical and psychosocial risks, therefore legislation, policies and guidelines should reflect this in a more comprehensive manner. This also implies that occupational safety and health inspections should cover all hazards as much as possible. The level of awareness and knowledge should be scaled up on the nature of psychosocial risks, their effects and how to prevent, monitor and manage them. There is also need to identify the specific job demands that need to be reduced, those that are impossible to reduce but should be monitored and complemented by high job resources, and the specific job resources that need to be availed in each situation according to the work context. The research indicated that workers’ well-being is influenced negatively by different types of demands at work, which calls for serious preventative actions from all stakeholders.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Leka, Stavroula
Hunt, Nigel
Keywords: Work stress; Work environment; Psychosocial risks; Banking sector; Occupational health; Employees
Subjects: W Medicine and related subjects (NLM Classification) > WA Public health
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Medicine
Item ID: 61299
Depositing User: Ndengu, Tarisayi
Date Deposited: 17 May 2021 12:45
Last Modified: 17 May 2021 12:45

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