Workplace Stress: What the Research Tells Us

Thursday December 10, 2015

JoWood600px"The nature of work is changing at whirlwind speed. Perhaps now more than ever before, job stress poses a threat to the health of workers and, in turn, to the health of organizations."  Jo Wood | jwood@peabodyinc.com Job Conditions That May Lead to Stress The Design of Tasks. Heavy workload, infrequent rest breaks, long work hours and shiftwork; hectic and routine tasks that have little inherent meaning, do not utilize workers’ skills, and provide little sense of control. Example: David works to the point of exhaustion. Theresa is tied to the computer, allowing little room for flexibility, self-initiative, or rest. Management Style. Lack of participation by workers in decision-making, poor communication in the organization, lack of family-friendly policies. Example: Theresa needs to get the boss’s approval for everything and the company is insensitive to her family needs. Interpersonal Relationships. Poor social environment and lack of support or help from coworkers and supervisors. Example: Theresa’s physical isolation reduces her opportunities to interact with other workers or receive help from them. Work Roles. Conflicting or uncertain job expectations, too much responsibility, too many “hats to wear.” Example: Theresa is often caught in a difficult situation trying to satisfy both the customer’s needs and the company’s expectations. Career Concerns. Job insecurity and lack of opportunity for growth, advancement, or promotion; rapid changes for which workers are unprepared. Example: Since the reorganization at David’s plant, everyone is worried about their future with the company and what will happen next. Environmental Conditions. Unpleasant or dangerous physical conditions such as crowding, noise, air pollution, or ergonomic problems. Example: David is exposed to constant noise at work. Early Warning Signs of Job Stress
  • Headache
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Short temper
  • Upset stomach
  • Job dissatisfaction
  • Low morale
Job Stress and Health: What the Research Tells Us Cardiovascular Disease Many studies suggest that psychologically demanding jobs that allow employees little control over the work process increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Musculoskeletal Disorders On the basis of research by NIOSH and many other organizations, it is widely believed that job stress increases the risk for development of back and upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders. Psychological Disorders Several studies suggest that differences in rates of mental health problems (such as depression and burnout) for various occupations are due partly to differences in job stress levels. (Economic and lifestyle differences between occupations may also contribute to some of these problems.) Workplace Injury Although more study is needed, there is a growing concern that stressful working conditions interfere with safe work practices and set the stage for injuries at work. Suicide, Cancer, Ulcers, and Impaired Immune Function Some studies suggest a relationship between stressful working conditions and these health problems. However, more research is needed before firm conclusions can be drawn. Encyclopedia of Occupational Safety and Health To Review The Full Study Visit Our Website Here