Work stress has been proven to have a visibly detrimental effect on the health of employees and has been shown as risky as second-hand smoking, according to researchers.
Previous studies had investigated the consequences of stress upon health, but they didn’t specify the contributing factors. For example, in February an article published in ”Medical News Today” revealed that being stressed-out increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, infertility and Alzheimer’s.
Another study published in August by the American Psychological Association (APA) showed that work is the second-most important source of stress among Americans, surpassed only by money matters. However, the findings didn’t concentrate on psychosocial factors which may determine stress, such as extended schedule, economic uncertainty and strict deadlines.
This new research , carried out by experts from Stanford University, California, and Harvard Business School, Massachusetts, was actually a meta-analysis of 228 prior studies which had analyzed the correspondence between 10 workplace stressors and 4 potential health outcomes.
The 10 factors included in the analysis were the following: long work hours, economic security (status of employment), shift work, health insurance benefits, social assistance, socializing with peers, fairness within the organization, work control, job demands and the balance between work and family life.
The potential outcomes resulting from interaction between these stressors were: being diagnosed with a medical condition, self-reported poor physical health, self-reported poor mental health and finally, early death.
The study was published in the”Behavioral Science and Policy Association” Journal and pinpointed that there is indeed a direct link between workplace stressors and employee health. In general, negative job circumstances can be even more damaging to our physical and psychological well-being than exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke.
More precisely, facing overwhelming job demands increases the likelihood to be diagnosed with an illness by 35%, while lack of job stability contributes to poor health by as much as 50%. Similarly, working overtime elevates mortality risk by approximately 20%.
”When you think about how much time individuals typically spend at work, it’s not that surprising”, declared Joel Goh, one of the study’s authors and assistant professor at Harvard Business School.
Due to the dangerous impact of working under stress, health experts are urging managers to adopt policy measures to ensure the psychological well-being of their employees.
Aside from providing physical wellness programs which include exercise and yoga, staff management strategies should be updated in order to ensure a nurturing work environment, that stimulates creativity and productivity, without forcing individuals to over-exert themselves.
Researchers also recommend limiting work hours or adopting flexible schedules that give employees better balance between work and family life. There should also be further research conducted with a view to understand the effects of work stress upon specific organizations, as well as at a national level. Such case studies could help address the issue in a more practical, results-oriented manner.
Image Source: Pixabay