Posted by: healingtheworkplace | September 5, 2011

Stress in the Workplace is Real!

HI there, a recent study by two economic students at Concordia University in Montreal is causing a lot of “buzz”. The study supports what “we” have known all along…workplace stress is real and it is costing society billions of dollars a year.

In an earlier post I argued that workplace stress is a public health issue because it not only affects workers directly but it affects their families, their communities and society as a whole.

Those of us who have experienced stress at work know that it is real.

Unfortunately many employers still see stress as something that workers somehow create themselves, independent of the organization.

It is for this reason that most workplace stress education programs focus on what the individual worker can do (relaxation, exercise, diet changes etc.) and make no attempts to change the things in the workplace that are causing the stress in the first place (poor leadership, bad job design, lack of training, poor communication, lack of control over the work, etc.).

Yes, we can mitigate the effects of stress SOMEWHAT by our approach to it BUT we are still left with the things that we cannot control without the help of management.

Sunday Azagba and Mesbah Sharaf are the two doctoral students mentioned above. What they have done is to “examine the impact of job stress on health care costs.”

“There is medical evidence that stress can adversely affect an individual’s immune system, thereby increasing the risk of disease,” Sharaf continues. “Numerous studies have linked stress to back pain, colorectal cancer, infectious disease, heart problems, headaches and diabetes. Job stress may also heighten risky behaviours such as smoking, drug and alcohol abuse, discourage healthy behaviours such as physical activity, proper diet and increase consumption of fatty and sweet foods.”

Despite mounting evidence most Workers Compensation Boards
in North America do not recognize stress as a “work place injury” and many
physicians discourage their patients from taking stress leave.

And because the cause of stress is not being addressed, the cost of stress in the workplace is rising.

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