A Management College of Southern Africa (MANCOSA) Master of Business Administration (MBA) graduate’s research on the impact of stress on employees within the tourism sector in the Durban Metropolitan area found that having to contend with irate customers was the main driver of high stress levels among this workforce.
Ms Happy-Girl Ndlovu conducted research titled: An Assessment of the Impact of Stress in Managing Employee Functioning in the Workplace: The Study of the Tourism Sector in the Durban Metropolitan Area which aimed to establish the impact of stress on job performance. She was conferred with her MBA at the MANCOSA 2014 graduation held recently at the International Convention Centre (ICC).
Working within the tourism sector herself, Ms Ndlovu who heads the Marketing Department at a holiday resort in KwaZulu-Natal, has had first-hand knowledge of the effects of stress and absenteeism to the industry.
“Each and every employee experiences stress in the tourism sector. The major stressor is the difficult customer. Employers should give attention to the bad experiences of employees from customers. Stress management training is essential to form part of the induction training for new employees in the tourism sector,” said Ms Ndlovu.
A concern highlighted in the study was a fear among the workforce within the tourism sector to admit to being stressed due to the perceptions that one is weak or crazy if counselling is sought. “They remain silent and don’t talk about their true feelings of stress. This is the reason why some of them opt for other means of managing stress such as alcoholism rather than seeking assistance from employers,” she said.
According to Ms Ndlovu it was important to identify the three stages of stress, namely the alarm reaction, resistance and exhaustion stages. She said it was imperative not to let stress go unattended and reach the exhaustion stage where negative effects including illness, absenteeism and alcohol abuse surfaces.
Stress management techniques are suggested in the study to ward off negative consequences. These include: exercise; the identification of stressors; stress management and assertiveness training and employing time management techniques.
Ms Ndlovu said employees within service organisations like the tourism sector were of high importance because they formed part of the product differentiation within the organisation. “The tourism sector can’t change customers’ attitudes but through this study employees are equipped on how to manage stress and subsequently they are productive and employers benefit on having no customer complaints of staff shortages and poor service delivery. As a result all parties feel satisfied and happy.”
Proud that her hard work and dedication has paid off, Ms Ndlovu was thankful to her supportive family and the guidance of her supervisor. She encouraged other MBA students to work harder in the event of encountering challenges and at the end dedication would work in their favour.