ORGANIZATIONAL JUSTICE, SELF EFFICACY, AND WORK STATUS AS PREDICTORS OF OCCUPATIONAL STRESS AMONG PRISON WORKERS

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

The goal of every organization, is to work towards achieving the objective for its existence. As an organization, the major goal of the prisons at any level is towards attainment of safe custody of the inmates. Although there may be other peripheral objectives, emphasis is placed on the achievement of inmates’ reformation and rehabilitation. The extent to which this goal is actualized depends principally on the workforce most especially the prison workers. They constitute the oil that lubricates the factors of security performance and criminal justice system (CJS) objectives (Zapf, 2002). However, studies (e.g.Cooper & Cartwirght 1994; Kinman, 2001) have identified, among other things occupational stress as one of the militating factors against employees well being and effective performance.

Stress is an unavoidable characteristic of life and work. It is a generalized non-specific response of the body to any demand made on it. Occupational stress describes physical, mental and emotional wear and tear brought about by incongruence between the requirement of the job and capabilities resource and needs of the employee to cope with job demands (Lazarus 2000; Akinboye, Akinboye & Adeyemo, 2002).  According to Youssef and Luthan (2007) over seventy percent of employees world – wide describe their jobs as stressful with more than one in five reporting high levels of stress at work on a daily basis.

Stress experienced by people in different occupational aress and job roles has been discussed in many papers with a number of different occupations being described as experiencing above average levels of stress. The job of prison officers, in particular, has been rated as stressful (Cooper, Cooper & Eaker 1988; Cooper, Dewe & O’Driscoll, 2001). A multivariate logistic regression analysis carried out by Stack & Tsoudis (2003) indicated that the risk of suicide among prison guards was 39% higher than the rest of the working age population. Prison officers play crucial roles in the functioning of prison. According to Moon and Maxwell (2004) prison officers can influence the positive behaviour of inmates through daily contact therefore helping to maintain the social and security environment of prisons on daily basis. However, the responsibility this position holds is fraught with stress (Lambert, Hogan & Barton, 2004).

According to Crawley (2004) prison officer’s anxiety level arises from the unpredictability of prison life, although much of prison life is mundane and routine the officer is always conscious that a prisoner may assault him that a prisoner may try to escape, that a prisoner may try to take him hostage. Those who choose a career as a prison officer face a number of issues such as role problem, work over load, demanding social contracts (with prisoners, colleagues and supervisors) and poor social status (Schaufeli & Peeters, 2000). These factors may not only affect the officer but also have a ripple effect that can result in negative consequences for the officers’ family members as well as the organization. Furthermore, as the prison population continues to blossom the conditions within prison facilities will remain stressful. (Slates, Vogel, Johnson, 2001; Wahab 2010).

According to Armstrong and Griffin (2004) prisons is regarded as unique working environments as very few other institutions are charged with the primary duty of supervising and securing a population that can be unwilling and potentially violent. In consequence working in prisons results in a number of equally distinct occupational stressors which collating the evidence from the literature that author identified as work over loads gender issues, and role problem. These factors reduced worker satisfaction and motivation (Lambert & Barton, 2004).

One factor related to both job satisfaction and employee motivation is the extent to which employees perceive that they are being treated fairly. In line with equity theory it is believed that our levels of job satisfaction and motivation are related to how fairly we believe we are treated in comparison with others. If we believe we are treated unfairly we attempt to change our beliefs or behaviour. Until the situation appears to be fair (Hoy & Tarter, 2004)

Furthermore, research on equity has recently expanded into what researchers call distributive justice, procedural justice, interpersonal and informational justice. Distributive justice is the perceived fairness of the actual decisions made in an organization, procedural justice is the perceived fairness of the methods used to arrive at the decision. Interpersonal justice refers to employees perceptions towards the interpersonal treatment worker receives during the procedure of gathering incentives (Bies & Moag, 1986). Informational justice refers to perceptions of employees’ about the clear information related to a decision that made by the organization (Bies, Shapiro & Cummings, 1988). These entire four dimensions are the processes that involved in rewarding works.

According to Greenberg (1996) organizational justice was a concept that expressed employees’ perceptions about the extent to which they were treated fairly in organizations and how such perceptions influenced organizational outcomes such as commitment and satisfaction. When the relevant literature is examined, it is found that the perception of organizational justice comprises the sub-dimensions of distributive justice, procedural justice, interpersonal and informational justice emerges from a combination of these four sub-dimensions (Colquitt, 2001).

However, the four dimensional structures is still new to the literature, and other taxonomies espouse a three factor structure that combines interpersonal and informational justice into an interactional ( or quality-of-treatment)  factor (Tyler & Blader, 2000).

According to Poulus (2004) an important way to increase perceptions of equity would be to allow employees access to the salaries of other employees. In the public sector, employee salaries are available to the public, although most public agencies certainly do not go out of their way to publicize salary information. In the private sector, most organizations keep such information confidential and some even include statements in their employee manuals that forbid employees from divulging their salaries to one another. Such policies, however, encourage employees to speculate about how much other people make. This speculation usually results in employees thinking the worst and believing the others make more than they do.

Even if an organization were able to maintain a complete internal equity, employees would then compare their rations with those of employees from other organizations. The problem with such comparisons is that an organization has little or no control over another’s policies. Furthermore, perceptions of wages and benefits at other organizations most likely will be more distorted than internal perception. Thus, even if equity were completely accurate, maintain a high level of employee satisfaction would still be difficult. (Macey, 2009).

Justice in an organization is very important because of its impact on the performance of any organization, in terms of work effectiveness, loyalty of the employees and fostering mutual respect among employees (Sheppard, Lewicki & Minton, 2002). According to Singer (2003) justice should be given priority in all organization affairs, otherwise there will be some negative impact on the organization performance. Justice in the work place has a significant relationship with employee’s satisfaction and the effectiveness of an organization.

Issues of justice or fairness are a key concern to virtually all individuals (Bies  &  Moag 1986; Cohen  & Spector 2001). In work settings, employees often gauge whether the rewards they receive match their contributions to the organization or the rewards received by their colleagues. Employees also judge the fairness of decision- making procedures used by organizational representatives to see whether those procedures are consistent, unbiased, and accurate, representative of worker concerns and opinions (Janseen, 2004). Employees consider the interpersonal treatment they receive as procedures are implemented by authority figures (Greenberg, 2003)

Self-efficacy which is defined as the belief that one can master a situation and procure positive outcomes can be an effective buffer against stress. According to Bandura (2000), self-efficacy influences peoples’ behaviour in a variety of circumstances from solving personal problems. Self efficacy influences whether people even try to develop healthy habits, how much effort they expend in coping with stress, how long they persist in the face of obstacles and how much stress they experience.

One’s beliefs about oneself can act as moderating varieties in the stress-strain relationship. These beliefs have been considered in other areas within organizational psychology, showing for example the moderating effects of self-esteem on the results have supported the idea that stressors have a less negative effect when individuals have more positive self perceptions (Mossholder, Bedein & Armenakis, 2002).

According to Bandura (2001) self-efficacy refers to beliefs in one’s own capacity to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations. The principal source of self-efficacy is enactive mastering, while depends on both real and perceived execution of the task. Other sources of self-efficacy are the verbal persuasion of others, vicarious learning and emotional activation, Research shows that one’s own beliefs of efficacy function as an important determinant of motivation, affect, thought and action (Jex & Bliese, 1999).

According to Schwarzer and Hallum (2008) self efficacy can make a difference to people’s ways of thinking feeling and acting. With respect to feelings, a low sense of self efficacy is associated with depression, anxiety and helplessness. People with low self efficacy, also harbour pessimistic thoughts about their performance and personal development. In contrast, a strong sense of belief in one-self facilitates cognitive and executive processes in multiple contexts, influencing for example organizational decision making (Bandnra, 2001).

Researchers have conceptualized generalized self-efficacy as the confidence in one’s own coping skills that is manifested in a wide range of challenging situations, and which has a broad and stable nature (Maibach & Murphy, 2005) Nevertheless, the degree of generality may vary depending on the different results it is intended to predict or moderate, such as the degree of similarity of the activities, the modalities or forms in which the skills manifest themselves (behavioural, cognitive and affective), and qualitative aspects of the situation.

Research has shown that workers with a strong sense of efficacy are more likely to challenge themselves with difficult tasks and be intrinsically motivated. These workers will put forth high degree of effort in order to meet their commitments and attribute failure to things which are in their control rather than blaming external factors. Self efficacious workers also recover quickly from setbacks and ultimately are likely to achieve their personal goals. Workers with low self efficacy, on the other hand, believe they cannot be successful and thus are less likely to make a concerted extended effort and may consider challenging tasks as threats that are to be avoided. Thus workers with poor self efficacy have low aspiration and also perform poorly (Bandura, 1997).

Since its conception, self- efficacy have been applied to different context  (Bandura  & Locke, 2003). These authors have pointed out that self-efficacy is related to better health, better self development and greater social integration. In the work context, for example, Spear & Frees (2002) studied generalized self efficacy, showing that self-efficacy, functions as a mediator in the relationship between control and initiative when the latter is concurrent, and as a moderator when the personal initiative (PI) is retrospective. Other authors (e.g. Jex & Bliese 1999; Maibach & Murphy, 2005) consider, moreover, that self efficacy is relevant in the study of stress and work, fulfilling a moderating role. The basis for this is found on considering control as a key factor in the stress process, so that the mere exposure to stressors, with control on the part of the subject may lead to undesired or harmful effects. In this way, Bandura’s cognitive social theory considers the experience of stress in terms of low efficacy for exercising control over stressful situation or condition.

In spite of the above, limited research has been carried out on the role of beliefs of efficacy in the processes of occupational stress (Jex &  Bliese1999). Among the few studies that have explored such questions directly are those of Jex and Gudanowski, (1992); Jex and Bliese, (1999). While the former find no empirical evidence of a moderating role of self efficacy in the processes of occupational stress, the latter was found otherwise. Jex and Bliese (1999) using two self efficacy measures (generalized individual and collective), found( out that self efficacy moderates the relationship between certain stress on, such as number hours worked, work overload or task meaning, and some of their consequence, such as satisfaction, physical symptoms, attempts to abandon the job and organizational commitment.

With respect to the specific consequences of stress these authors found that generalized self-efficacy has strong positive relationship with job satisfaction (main effect on the moderating variable). Among the main effects of stressors, they found that two of the three stressors studied (work overload and low levels of task meaning) are significantly associated with job satisfaction. However, they did not find significant interaction effects as far as job satisfaction was concerned. They formed similar pattern in relation to organizational commitment, but in this variable there does appear to be a significant interaction effect between generalized self efficacy and work over load. Thus, organizational commitment stays relatively high for people with high levels of generalized self – efficacy, even under conditions of high overload, while this is not the case for those with low self-efficacy, who show lower levels of organizational commitment, which full even more as work overload increases.

According to Bandura (1998) theoretical analysis, perceived self efficacy is people’s belief about their capabilities to produce designated levels of performance that exercise influence over events that affect their lives. A strong self-efficacy enhances human accomplishment and personal well being in many ways, people with high assurance in their capabilities approach difficult tasks as challenges to be measured rather than as threat to be avoided. They approach threatening situation with assurance that they can exercise control over them. Such as efficacious out look produces personal accomplishment, reduces stress and lower Vulnerability to depression (Bandura, 2000).

In contrasts, people who doubt their capabilities shy away from difficult tasks which they view as personal threats. They have low aspiration and weak commitment to the goals they choose to pursue. When faced with difficult tasks, they dwell on their personal deficiencies, on the obstacles they will encounter, and on all kinds of adverse outcomes rather than concentrate on how to perform successfully. They slacken their efforts and give up quickly in the face of difficulties, they full easily to stress and depression. Efficacy beliefs influence the amount of stress and anxiety individual experiences as they engage in an activity (Bandura 1997; Naude & Rothman 2006).

In the past, many professions were status dominated and this was characterized by decisiveness, competitiveness and action within members of the professional group. Junior workers within these professions were viewed as subservient and dependent upon the senior employer. The status of the position within the person organization together with the quality and work division was clearly demarcated by status (Carison, Johannesen, Engen, 2003).

According to Hart, Wearing  and Hesdy, (1995) the difficulties junior workers experienced in the workplace. The junior workers felt that they were not given the same status or given equal right in division making as the senior counterparts. Moreover, if inmates of the prisons are to receive holistic and empathetic social care, workers of the prisons must work together as a supportive group, interacting and communicating appropriately to provide the best safe custody for the inmates.

Status of workers of may also affect their levels of justice and occupational stress. Senior workers have more control over how they perform their duties than the junior ones. Also, the status determine the schedule of duties, senior staff experience less job strain than junior workers who have high demands made on them but little control over how to perform the job (Hobfoll, Johnson, Ennis  & Jackson, 2003).

Statement of the problem

Justice in an organization  is very important because of its impact on the performance of any organization, in terms of work effectiveness, loyalty of the employees and fostering mutual respect among employees (Sheppard, Lewicki & Minton, 1992). However, justice is not only important for any organization but also important for the well being of the workers in an organization (Poole, 2008), because justice has a vital role on enhancing individuals satisfaction. Therefore workers in organizations tend to compare themselves with other employees in other organizations to know whether they are fairly treated or not, especially in the issue of promotion, salary, distribution of welfare packages, taxation and non payment of arrears. In the Nigerian prisons service, workers are stagnated in one rank for more than fifteen years especially moving from junior to senior cadre (commissioned officers), neglecting job experience and gallantry services, using educational qualification only as a tool for promotion into the senior cadre. Junior officers also are not allowed in the decision making whereas they do the bulk of work in the prison such as handling of keys, court duties, sentry and night shifts. However they are the ones that extra duties, form 96 (misconduct form) restricted movements within and outside the prison yard are awarded, coupled with the unsafe environment they found themselves as their working place. All these variables contribute to the employees’ stressful condition in the prison. When a worker faces stressful condition it affects its self-efficacy and also the work performance. Low self-efficacy could lead to low productivity and dissatisfaction of workers at work.

The researcher will attempt to provide answers to the following questions;

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