Job Stress As Determinants Of Job Performance

Stress is defined as a psychological and physiological response to the perception of a demand or challenge (Bunge, 1989). However, job stress is defined as the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when requirements of the job do not match the worker’s capabilities, resources, or needs of the workers (NIOSH, 1999).

Performance is defined as an action or process of carrying out or accomplishing an action, task or function (The New Oxford American Dictionary, 2005). In relation to job, performance is defined as a criterion of job-related behavior, usually measured in terms of quantity or quality of output or both (Corsini, 2002).

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Excessive stress in the workplace creates a toll on both employee and corporate health. It leads to increase health care cost, higher rates of absenteeism, turn over, industrial accidents, and lower level of productivity and performance. These effects of stress bring negative impact on the functioning of an organization, which in turn affects the economy. According to the American Institute of Stress, job stress costs the nation over $300 billion annually because of health care, absenteeism, and stress reduction efforts.

Workplace stress is currently a topic of great interest. Though many professions have been studied, one profession that has not been extensively studied is the librarians, despite many librarians stating that they experience stress in their workplace. It is also the researcher’s observation that working in the library is not a stress-free job. In fact, according to a research done by psychologist Saqib Saddiq (n.d.), which was published by the BBC News last January 12, 2006, librarians were the most stressed in their workplace because they found their job repetitive and unchallenging.

Due to the competitive nature of jobs, stress in the workplace poses a threat to the health of the workers which in turn affects their performance. According to Kavanagh (2005, p. xii), “when an individual comes under stress, his cognitive performance and decision making may be adversely affected”.

The growing amount of research investigating the stress-performance relationship in the workplace may have been due to the popular belief that a high level of stress can lead to reduced employee performance attributed to some forms of physiological, psychological, and behavioral dysfunction (Robbins, 1986, p. 385).

Although working in libraries has been commonly thought of as a stress-free job compared with other professions, a number of studies have appeared in library literature which focused on stress experienced by librarians in their workplace (Bunge, 1989; Wood, 1989; Nawe, 1995; Topper, 2007). Factors such as work overload; work under load; interpersonal relationships; lack of effective positive feedback from supervisors, co-workers, and patrons; absence of clear policy guidelines; inadequacies in supervision and management; inadequate office space; role ambiguity; role conflict, and; lack of resources can cause stress in the library workplace which can eventually affect the job performance of library staff (Bunge, 1989).

Research on job stress and job performance of public library staff will help public library administrators to develop possible solutions to eliminate or at least reduce stress in their workplace, which is necessary for better job performance of their staff. It will also help them develop effective strategies for managing stress to maintain high level of productivity.

Statement of the Problem

Large bodies of literature have tried to determine the influence of job stress to job performance among different professionals (e.g. Jamal, 1985; Mathur et al., 2007; Park, 2007; Kazmi, Amjad and Khan, 2008; Ongori and Agolla, 2008; Cardona, 1991; Manasala, 2002; Muyo, 2002; Monge, 2005; Taniajura, 2007). Since there is no study regarding job stress and job performance of public library staff, this study will attempt to fill the research gap that will serve as a useful guide for future research investigations.

This study will investigate the sources of job-related stressors of the library staff, their level of stress, and the relationship of stress to their job performance.

Specifically, this study will find answers to the following questions:

What are the job-related stressors experienced by the public library staff?

Physical Environment Stressors

Individual Stressors

Group Stressors

Organizational Stressors

What is the level of stress (low, moderate, high) experienced by the public library staff?

What is the relationship of level of stress (low, moderate, high) to the level of job performance (low, moderate, high) of public library staff?

What socio-demographics influence the level of stress (low, moderate, high) of public library staff?



Civil status

Educational attainment

Length of employment

Position in the library


What socio-demographics influence the level of job performance (low, moderate, high) of public library staff?

Objectives of the Study

This study aims to:

Identify the job-related stressors experienced by the public library staff.

Determine the level of stress (low, moderate, high) experienced by the public library staff.

Identify the relationship of level of stress (low, moderate, high) to the level of job performance (low, moderate, high) of public library staff?

Determine the socio-demographics of public library staff that affect their

level of stress.

Determine the socio-demographics of public library staff that affect their

job performance.

Significance of the Study

The researcher found it important to study job stress and job performance of library staff because the public believed that librarians work in a stress-free environment (Wood, 1989). Results of this study will serve as a proof that library workplace is also a potential source of stressors which poses a threat to the well-being of library staff and can eventually cause a low level of performance.

To the staff in public libraries, the result of this study will help them to become aware of their stressors and stress levels and to develop approaches/strategies to deal with them. This study will also serve as a useful guide for the library staff in preventing stress in their workplace and to create a healthful environment which may result in high performance and productivity. Their better service and commitment to work will benefit the patrons of the library in gathering the necessary information that they need.

To library administrators, findings of this study may be used as a basis for designing a stress management manual for library staff focusing on necessary preventive techniques and coping mechanisms to manage stress and implement them appropriately in the library workplace. Such techniques in coping with stress may enhance the well-being of the library staff which is necessary for better job performance and productivity.

As a contribution to the scientific studies, the results of this research may fill the research gap between job stress and job performance of public library staff. This study will also provide additional information on the stressors and stress levels in the library workplace; the stressors that influence job performance, and; the socio-demographics that influence the level of stress and job performance.

To future researchers, findings of this study can be used as a guide in studying job stress and job performance of library staff in other types of libraries (academic, school, special). This research could also serve as their source of related literature.

Scope and Limitations of the Study

This study will investigate the stressors and stress levels in the library workplace and the stressors that influence the job performance of library staff, particularly among the staff in selected public libraries in Metro Manila. It will also try to find out if certain socio-demographic characteristics such as age, gender, civil status, educational attainment, length of employment, position in the library, and salary may influence the level of stress and job performance of public library staff.

Only the public library staff who perform library work will be included in this study.

Library staff who will participate in this study will come from six (6) public libraries in Metro Manila, namely: (1) Makati City Library; (2) Manila City Library; (3) Marikina City Library; (4) Pasay City Library; (5) Pasig City Discovery Centrum and Learning Resource Center, and; (6) Quezon City Public Library.


Stress has been defined in different ways by different people. The business person may define stress as frustration or emotional tension; the air traffic controller may define it as a problem of alertness and concentration, while the biochemist may define stress as a purely chemical event (Ivancevich and Mattenson, 1990). Psychologists and biologists think of stress as any strain that disturbs the functioning of an organism. Medical professionals think of stress as a factor in disease causation. From a layperson’s perspective, stress can be defined as feeling tense, anxious or worried (Ivancevich, Konopaske and Mattenson, 2008). However, Selye (1956), a pioneering expert on the study of stress, defined stress as rate of wear and tear within the body at any one time because this is the immediate non specific result of function and damage. Bunge (1989), on the other hand, defined stress as a person’s psychological and physiological response to the perception of a demand or challenge. According to Decenzo and Robbins (1999), stress is a dynamic condition in which an individual is confronted with an opportunity, constraint or demand, related to what he or she desires and for which the outcome is perceived to be both uncertain and important. Ivancevich, Konopaske and Mattenson (2008), defined stress as an adaptive response, moderated by individual differences that is a consequence of any action, situation or event that places special demands on a person.

Jamal (1984) defined performance as an activity in which an individual is able to accomplish successfully the task/goal assigned, subject to normal constraint of the reasonable utilisation of available resources. According to the Dictionary of Psychology by Ray Corsini (2002), performance is an activity or behaviour that leads to a result such as a change in the environment. However, according to Ivancevich, Konopaske and Mattenson (2008), performance is the desired results of behaviour.

Studying stress is important to make the organizations aware that they have a moral and legal obligation to provide a work environment in which stress is kept to manageable levels (Jex 1998). Being aware on the extent of stress in the library workplace, library administrators could design a necessary preventive technique for their staff to deal with stress. This can help the librarians to cope positively with different stressors in their workplace which may result in better performance and high level of well being. On the other hand, policy makers could formulate guidelines which is not too complex so that employees can follow them effectively without being stress.

A. Job Stress

Foreign Studies

Stress among academic librarians and library directors were the focus of study conducted by Wood (1989). The studies showed the potentially adverse impact of stress on individuals and organizations generally, and librarians and libraries specifically. The results of a study based on Hallberg’s “Stress Survey” was sent to the academic librarians in the Southeastern Library Network (SOLINET) region were presented. Six types of stress criteria (time, task perfection, control over the job, competition, change, and physical symptomology) were used to evaluate such positions as library directors; acquisition librarians; catalog librarians; reference librarians; serial librarians, and; others. The impact of technological, environmental, organizational, and other factors were also included in the study. Findings of the study found no evidence of unhealthy stress levels among the college librarians in the 40 academic libraries surveyed.

Local Studies

In the Philippine setting, studies on job stress have also been conducted.

Caguiat (2001) studied the effects of stress and burnout on librarians in selected academic libraries in Metro Manila. The study was conducted to determine the level of burnout; identify the sources of job-related stress; determine the manifestations of stress; describe the level of burnout which affects job performance in relation to the following characteristics such as civil status, age, educational attainment, position/designation in the library, and length of employment in the library, and; identify the individual coping mechanisms and stress reduction techniques provided by their organizations. A survey questionnaire was the main research instrument in the study. Results of the study revealed that academic librarians experienced very mild emotional exhaustion level. Low budget, overworked, low advancement, and working conditions were the most common organizational stressors on academic librarians. The most common manifestations of stress frequently experienced by librarians under study were backaches and headaches. With regards to their job performance (for the last six months), the respondents think that their overall function as librarians was excellent. On the other hand, librarians in academic libraries dealt with stress towards the positive way of coping, and the most common stress reduction techniques and remedies given to the librarians by their organizations were skill training programs, breaks during work, orientation programs, improved working conditions, and improved communications.

Job stress and burnout among librarians in selected special libraries in Metro Manila was another study conducted by Mohammad (2001). This study looked into the prevailing conditions of job stress and burnout among special librarians. The data were obtained through questionnaire. Majority of the respondents (59.5%) were found to be experiencing stress, while 27 percent were distressed or strained. Three (8.1%) respondents were found to be burned out.

B. Job Stressors

Various authors provided different ways of categorizing work stressors.

Schuler (1982) identified seven categories of work stressors. These are (1) job qualities; (2) relationships; (3) organizational structure; (4) physical qualities; (5) career development; (6) change, and; (7) role in the organization.

Quick and Quick (1984) propose four categories of stressors. These are (1) task demands; (2) role demands; (3) physical demands (elements in one’s physical setting or environment); and (4) interpersonal demands.

Burke (1988) provides six categories of stressors in the work place. These are physical environment, role stressors, organizational structure and job characteristics, relationships with others, career development, and work -family conflicts.

Bunge (1989) cited the sources of stress in the library workplace such as: work overload; work under load; interpersonal relationships; lack of effective positive feedback from supervisors, co-workers and patrons; absence of clear policy guidelines; inadequacies in supervision and management; inadequate office space; role ambiguity; role conflict, and; lack of resources.

Ivancevich and Mattenson (1990) categorize work stressors as: (1) physical environment stressors; (2) individual stressors; (3) group stressors, and; (4) organizational stressors.

Decenzo and Robbins (1999) identified two potential stressors in the workplace. These are (1) organizational factors (task demands, role demands, interpersonal demands, organizational structure and organizational leadership), and; (2) individual factors (family problems, economic problems and personality).

C. Job Performance

Foreign Studies

Dale (1959) classified components of job performance into four categories: Skill (includes education, experience, initiative, and ingenuity); Effort (includes physical demand, mental or visual demands); Responsibility (includes equipment or process, material or product, safety of others, work of others), and; Job conditions (includes working conditions, and unavoidable hazards).

Myers (1964) confirmed Herzberg’s findings. His study showed that achievement, recognition, the work itself, responsibility, and personal advancement gave deeper lasting satisfaction and performance to the worker than policy, interpersonal relationships, and working conditions.

Campbell (1990, 1994) proposed a model whereby performance on all jobs can be broken down into eight dimensions namely: job-specific task proficiency; non-job-specific task proficiency; written and oral communication task proficiency; demonstrating effort; maintaining personal discipline; facilitating peer and team performance; supervision/leadership; and management/ administration. However, Campbell (1990) argues that only three (core task proficiency, demonstrating effort, and maintenance of personal discipline) are major performance components of every job.

Local Studies

Locally, Balantac (1977) appraised the quality of the performance of women agriculture teachers in Los Banos, Laguna as perceived by the administrators, students, and by themselves. Specifically, the objectives were: (1) to determine the personal characteristics of women agriculture teachers; (2) to ascertain the job performance of women agriculture teachers as perceived by administrators, students, and the women agriculture themselves; (3) to determine the relationship between selected personal factors and job performance of women agriculture teachers, and; (4) to find out the relationship between selected job-related factors and job performance of women agriculture teachers. The data were collected with the use of an interview schedule. The findings showed that those who had rural backgrounds, had advanced masteral units, exposed to training programs, had lighter workloads, and were more satisfied in their jobs tended to exhibit high performance.

Niones (2001) studied the factors affecting job performance of the employees of the UP Diliman School of Economics. The factors were age, sex, civil status, salary, address, educational attainment, tardiness, hours-lost, rated by administrative offices, rated by faculty, librarian, and supervisor. Multiple regression analysis was used to determine which of the factors have a positive and negative relationship, and how significant are their effects on the job performance of the staff. Results of the study showed that tardiness, salary, and hours lost have a significant effect on performance.

An examination of the relationship between educational qualifications and the job performance of librarians in public and private schools in Los Banos, Laguna was the study conducted by Tasarra (2005). The main objective of this research was to examine the relationship between the educational and professional qualifications and job performance of public and private school librarians in Los Banos. The study used descriptive methods with the questionnaire as the primary research tool. Findings of the study showed that the job performance of librarians with Library Science units are 1.11 times more likely to be competent than those with no Library Science units. However, librarians with either a librarians certification or teachers certification are 1.25 times more likely to be competent than those without licenses.

D. Job Stress and Job Performance

Foreign Studies

Jamal (1985) examined the relationship between job stress and job performance among managers and blue-collar workers. Four types of relationships were proposed between job stress and performance: (1) curvilinear/U-shaped, (2) negative linear, (3) positive linear, and (4) no relationship between stress and performance.

A random sample of 283 blue-collar and 227 managerial workers employed in a large Canadian organization were surveyed in questionnaires. Measurement was made of variables relating to job stress, job performance, and organizational commitment. Results showed a primarily negative linear relationship between job stress and measures of job performance. Limited support was seen for curvilinear or no relationship. No support was found for the positive.

Mathur et al. (2007) looked at the effects of stress on the performance of the employees working in different manufacturing organizations. The study also tried to find out the underlying factor responsible for stress as well as does stress affect the performance of the employees on the job. Data were collected from 110 higher and middle level employees through two separate questionnaires. First one was pertaining to stress and the second one was pertaining to job performance. The results came out with factors such as organizational culture, role conflict, and responsibility were responsible for stress. Regression analysis was used to check the effect of stress on job performance and it was found out that stress has an effect on job performance and job performance increases with the increase in stress.

Park (2007) investigated the levels, sources, and effects of work stress on job performance of different socio-demographic and occupational groups of Canadian workers. A cross-sectional and longitudinal analysis was applied to examine how work stress factors were associated with productivity. On the other hand, multivariate techniques were used to control for employment characteristics and protective factors such as social support and individual coping behaviors. To account for survey design effects, the bootstrap technique was used to estimate coefficients of variation and p-values and to perform significant test. Findings of the study revealed that work stress factors have significant cross-sectional and longitudinal associations with job performance.

Kazmi, Amjad and Khan (2008) investigated the effect of job stress on job performance of medical house officers of District Abbottabad. The data gathered were analyzed using descriptive statistics, Spearman’s correlation, and multiple regression. Results of the study showed that there is an inverse relationship between job stress and job performance indicating that there is high job stress in the house officers, resulting in low job performance.

Ongori and Agolla (2008) studied occupational stress and its effect on organizational performance of employees working in public sector organizations in Botswana. The data were analyzed using statistical package for social science (SPSS) version 15.0 and the use of simple descriptive statistics. To facilitate the analysis, the instrument used to analyze data on causes, symptoms, effects, and interventions were measured using Likert’s scale. The findings of this study showed that 68% of the respondents agreed that they work below par when they experience stress, while 24% of the respondents disagreed with the statement.

Local Studies

In the Philippines, studies were undertaken to identify work-related factor that affect stress which in turn affect job performance.

Cardona (1991) sought to determine the sources of job stress of school administrators in the Division of North Samar in relation to their job performance. Stress was defined as non specific human relations to environmental stimuli. The hypothetico-deductive type of research was employed using a stress questionnaire and the Performance Appraisal System. Mean, standard deviation, variance and percentage distribution, multiple regression, analysis of variance, and stepwise multiple regression were the statistical treatment used in the study. Findings of the study showed that performance rating was negatively related with environmental stressors while performance rating and position on the other hand, and organizational stressor on the other were positively related. The relationship between job performance and job stressor of school administrator was influenced by such factors as school location, position classification, level of education which the school provides, and civil status of the respondents.

Manansala (2002) determined the level of stress, stressors, and stress management strategies of grade two teachers in District IV-Manila in relation to their job performance for the school year 2000-2001. Stress questionnaires were used to gather data from the respondents and these were processed and analyzed using SPSS for Windows. Weighted mean, standard deviation and Pearson r were the statistical tools employed. Results of the study showed that the level of stress among grade two teachers was significantly related to job stressors and home and family stressors, while the level of stress was not significantly related to job performance. On the other hand, among the stress management strategies used in this study, only “turning to religion” and “seeking social support” had significant relationship with job performance.

Muyo (2002) studied the factors related to work stress and performance among teachers of Romblon. A questionnaire developed and adapted from existing professional stress literature and various related stress scales was used to gather primary data from the target respondents. The data gathered were processed using SPSS. Appropriate statistical tests like chi-square test (x2), t-test, F- test or analysis of variance (ANOVA), and regression correlation were used to test the hypothesis. Results of the study indicated a positive relationship between the teacher’s level of stress and their performance which imply that the more stress manifestations of the respondents, the higher the performance level. However, the mean performance of the respondents categorized according to age, sex, and educational attainment did not register significant effects on performance. On the other hand, it was found that income, rank, and length of service were significant influencing variables on job performance.

Monge (2005) determined the perceived effects of job-related stress on job performance among the teachers in the College of Arts and Letters (CAL) in Bicol University, Legazpi City. His study tried to find out the effect of job-related stress to college teachers as perceived by them in terms of colleagues, job, and work environment; the level of job performance of the respondents with regards to teaching competence, teaching performance, and personal-social qualities; if there was a significant relationship between job-related stress, job performance, and socio-demographic characteristics of college teachers, and; the proposed measures that can be undertaken to modify job-related stress and enhance job performance. This study made use of the descriptive-survey method as the primary structure of the research design in which a questionnaire was the main tool to gather pertinent data. The statistics needed were computed with SPSS 7.5 version. Mean, Pearson r coefficient of correlation, and t-test were the statistical treatment used in the study. Findings of the study revealed that CAL faculty was not much affected by the job-related stressors and they performed well in their job which means that job-related stress can affect job performance.

Taniajura (2007) determined the factors related to the job stress and job performance of Technology and Livelihood Education teachers in the Division City Schools, Pasay City. The descriptive method of research was used with the questionnaire as the data gathering instrument. The data were statistically analyzed employing the following statistical treatment: frequency, percentage, weighted mean, standard deviation, and the Pearson product moment correlation. Findings revealed that the personal factors such as the monthly salary, health condition, family condition and the school-environment factors such as workload and working conditions are teacher’s job stressors. Therefore, the independent variables (teacher’s job stressors) are significantly related to job stress and performance of technology and Livelihood Education teachers.

According to Cardona (1991), Muyo (2002), Mathur et al. (2007) and Taniajura (2007), job stress has a significant relationship with job performance. On the other hand, Jamal (1985), Manansala (2002), Monge (2005), Kazmi, Amjad and Khan (2008) and Ongori and Agolla (2008), revealed that stress has an inverse relationship to job performance. However, according to Park (2007), work stress factors have significant cross-sectional and longitudinal associations with job performance.

Likewise, according to the present researcher, stress has a curvilinear/U-shaped relationship with job performance. That is, when the stress is at high and low levels his performance on a given task is lower. But if the stress is at the moderate level, you will be aroused to perform well while not being overstressed and unhappy. This means that either too much stress or too little stress is detrimental to an individual’s performance.

Theoretical/ Conceptual Framework of the Study

One costly result of a mismatch between expectations and reality is a lower level of job performance. Studies indicate that performance reaches an optimal point when stress is at moderate level. The “moderate stress is optimal” theory (Mattenson and Ivancevich, 1982) presents what is called the inverted-U-stress/performance curve (see Fig.1). It exemplifies that if there is a very little pressure on individual to perform any task, then performance will be low. However, when there is too much stress, performance will be low also. Either too much stress or too little stress will detract the individual to perform well.


Level of


Low High

Level of Stress

Figure1. The Inverted U-stress/performance

Source: Mattenson and Ivancevich 1982, p.46

However, at the moderate level of stress, there is an area of best performance which the individual has enough pressure to focus on his task and perform well.

The research paradigm (see Fig. 2) shows the relationship of the independent and dependent variables of the study. The job-related stressors and level of stress are independent variables while job performance is the dependent variable. The socio-demographic characteristics are the intervening variables of the study.

This study is based on the assumption that job-related stressors influence the level of stress of public library staff and that the job-related stressors may be influenced by the intervening variables which may impede stress. On the other hand, it was presumed that the level of stress and certain intervening variables affect job performance.

The variables of the study are the following:

A. Independent Variables

1. Job-related stressors

This study adapted the job-related stressors cited by Ivancevich and Mattenson (1982, 1990) and Ivancevich, Konopaske and Mattenson (2008). They are described as follows:

Physical environment stressors: These include the working condition in the library such as inadequate office space, crowding

and lack of privacy in shared offices, inadequate lighting, noise, and extreme temperature in the workplace.

Individual stressors: These include role conflict, role ambiguity,

work overload, work under load, and time pressures.

Group stressors: These include managerial behavior, inadequate group support, interpersonal demands, and lack

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