A team of researchers from Stanford University and the Harvard School of Business have recently conducted a study on the effects of work related stress, and reached the conclusion that office stress is just as damaging to our health as secondhand smoke.
For the new study, the researchers looked at more than 200 previously concocted studies, and saw that individuals who worry about getting fired have a higher chance of being in poor health. Their risk of developing mental of physical conditions increases by 50 percent (50%).
The second most vulnerable group of individuals turned out to be people who have very demanding jobs. Their risk of developing mental of physical conditions increases by 35 percent (35%).
Last but not least, another threatened group was that of individuals who work long hours. Their risk of experiencing early death increases by 20 percent (20%).
Joel Goh, co-author on the study and assistant professor of business administration working at the Harvard School of Business, offered a statement where he said that “When you think about how much time individuals typically spend at work, it’s not that surprising”.
The authors explained in the study that “Extensive research focuses on the causes of workplace-induced stress. However, policy efforts to tackle the ever-increasing health costs and poor health outcomes in the United States have largely ignored the health effects of psychosocial workplace stressors”. Some of these stressors are long work hours, high job demands, and economic insecurity.
Goh hopes that the study he and his colleagues recently published will help employers see things differently and develop better ways to manage their employees without stressing them. As it may take a while before things start to change, Goh also gave stressed workers some advice:
1) Have you ever considered starting a work stress journal? On top of being therapeutic to let out the moments that caused you stress, you can also read the texts later and reflect on what you wrote. You may describe the circumstances of the event – who you were with, what you were talking about, what you were doing. You may also describe how the moment made you feel and what it made you think. It turns out that psychological clichés have value.
2) Consider doing reality checks. Why are you stressed about losing your job? Did something happen recently? Did a meeting go horribly, horribly wrong? Did you lose the company a lot of money? Ask yourself if you have a real reason to be worried.
You can also try asking some of your colleagues for their thoughts on the matte. You may discover points of view you never considered.
3) If you don’t like your job, you might want to consider looking for a new one. Psychologists inform that individuals who love their job are far better at dealing with the stress that comes with it.
4) Ask yourself what would happen if you did lose your job. Do you have a so called plan of attack? Does your CV reflect all of your skill sets? Do you have a sense of where you could go looking for a job? Do you have any former colleagues that may have information about new job opportunities? You may want to start asking these questions sooner, rather then later.
5) Negotiate with your boss. If he / she wants you to work at the office for 10 hours, help them understand why you can’t do that, but also inform them of how much work you can get done in a typical eight (8) hour day.
And what if your boss is ok with you working 9 to 5, but wants you to still be available for emails and phone conversations for the rest of the day? You should ask them if you’re expected to answer these after-hours messages immediately, within the hour, or within the day.
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