The Cost Of Workplace Stress

What people are saying about workplace stress:

  • One-fourth of employees view their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives.-Northwestern National Life
  • Three-fourths of employees believe the worker has more on-the-job stress than a generation ago.-Princeton Survey Research Associates
  • Problems at work are more strongly associated with health complaints than are any other life stressor-more so than even financial problems or family problems.-St. Paul Fire and Marine Innsuance Co.

Job stress can be defined as the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker. Job stress can lead to poor health and even injury.

According to the Center for DIsease Control (CDC) The concept of job stress is often confused with challenge, but these concepts are not the same. Challenge energizes us psychologically and physically, and it motivates us to learn new skills and master our jobs. When a challenge is met, we feel relaxed and satisfied. Thus, challenge is an important ingredient for healthy and productive work. The importance of challenge in our work lives is probably what people are referring to when they say “a little bit of stress is good for you.

Some employers assume that stressful working conditions are a necessary evil-that companies must turn up the pressure on workers and set aside health concerns to remain productive and profitable in today’s economy. But research findings challenge this belief. Studies show that stressful working conditions are actually associated with increased absenteeism, tardiness, and intentions by workers to quit their jobs-all of which have a negative effect on the bottom line.

What we have learned about stress is that it can impact all areas of an employees life:

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.

If you are experiencing stress, these three steps can help:

St e p 1. Take a time-out, breathe slowly and deeply. Imagine the air entering and leaving

through the heart area or the center of your chest.

St e p 2. Try to disengage from your stressful thoughts and feelings as you continue to breathe.

St e p 3. Continue until you have neutralized the emotional charge around the issue

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