Workplace Stress and Coping Strategies of Security Guards Working in Universities

By Saleem, Abeer; Jamil, Farhat et al. | Pakistan Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, January 1, 2017 | Go to article overview

Workplace Stress and Coping Strategies of Security Guards Working in Universities


Saleem, Abeer, Jamil, Farhat, Khalid, Ruhi, Pakistan Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology


Workplace stress is a global issue which is gaining more and more attention of researchers in present time due to its effects on job performance and human health. Selye (1974) defined workplace stress as "deviation from normal state due to unplanned or poorly designed work system or processes resulting into failures" (p. 137). Sauter, Lim, and Murphy (1996) interpreted workplace stress as "harmful tension that arises when employee's skills, abilities or resources don't match the pressure and demands of job" (p.249).

Contrary to the general perception of the word "stress" as being something negative and problematic, it has been proven to be beneficial as well. When present in little amounts, it increases arousal level which improves performance by creating a healthy tension. Ideal stress levels produce optimum ability to perform and we can achieve what we set out to do. On the other hand, if these levels increase or the same levels are sustained for a longer time, performance starts to decrease. We start to feel the pressure, our bodies start going under changes and that can cause fatigue, exhaustion, ill health or breakdown (Hicks & McSherry, 2006).

People in every profession experience stress and are affected by variety of stressors. These stressors can be biological, environmental, physiological or social. For example, the general atmosphere of workplace and relationships with colleagues encompass environmental and social factors (Bourne & Yaroush, 2003). One thing that makes the job of a security guard more stressful than every other job is the constant exposure to potential threat. Unfortunately, due to Pakistan's current situation, no place or institution can be deemed 100% safe and can be on the risk of being a target of terrorism. This puts a huge responsibility on security guards to be alert at all times for the safety of their own selves and everyone inside the institution they're guarding. After the attack on Army Public School Peshawar in 2014, parents are scared to send their children to schools and colleges. It is of absolute importance that we study this subject in detail to specify and then eradicate the problems that the security force is facing so that they can perform optimally and every parent and child feels safe.

In last few years, a lot of research has been dedicated to the alarming problem of workplace stress and its effects on physical and mental health. Spector, Zapf, Chen, and Frese (2000) reported that research done from 1991-1997reveals that there are 2371 entries on workplace stress. According to Jex (1998), in short amount of time a tremendous volume of research has been generated on the topic of workplace stress. Most of the research focused on high stress risk jobs such as executives, air traffic controllers, police, and doctors working in emergency and so on. However, little is done on security guards. And, what little is done focuses on violence against security guards and the sudden increase in employment and industry of guards. Researches related to their working environment and working conditions are almost non-exist. Security guard is one of the most high risk occupations, which involves guiding, monitoring, maintaining, and preventing crimes. Moreover, it includes managing access and movement of people, to provide general inspection, usher services, and report to law enforcement agencies.

Research shows that a stressful environment at work can lead to job dissatisfaction, increased absenteeism, anger, depression and anxiety which may all add up to produce dissatisfactory results at work and health problems for the individual himself. Gershon et al. (2009) conducted a study that explored the effects of perceived work stress in police officers and how their coping affected their stress and health. Results showed significant correlation between variables; work stress increased as the chances of exposure to critical incidents increased and workplace discrimination increased job dissatisfaction. …

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