Are you shocked? You shouldn’t be.
This study comes out of Germany, in which scientists observed 950+ people over a long period of time. They questioned their subjects on workplace psychological stress, and measured inflammation biomarkers in the blood. The findings are pretty stark.
Otherwise healthy people who face significant workplace stress have up to twice the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Ho-lee crap. I don’t know about you, but a 100% increase in my chances for heart disease means I want to get out of Dodge, and quickly.
Some tidbits about the study:
- Over half the respondents said they experience psychological strain/stress at work.
- Scientists found clear association between stress levels and higher concentrations of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of blood inflammation.
- Job stress led to depression, sleep disturbance, and physical inactivity.
The problem these days is that a fair number of people are trapped in their current job (perhaps with your company!). They need to keep it in order to pay bills, support a family, get out of debt, or just to stay in the black. They’re already under enough stress as it is, and may not get the ability to behave as healthfully as they normally would.
Adding on more stress at work just compounds the problem. What does this mean for you, the employer? A number of things, really.
First, it requires effective, supportive management. Identifying horrid managers can be tricky, but classic hallmarks include low team morale, overworked employee(s), and a generally shitty attitude toward anyone below him/her on the totem pole while not in the presence of an equal/superior.
Second, it means having an employee wellness program that promotes activity during the day. Physical activity is an excellent means of reversing inflammation and relieving stress. Whether it be stretch breaks every hour, a couple minutes of vigorous exercise, a couple 15-30 minute walking breaks outside, or company time for fitness center use, make sure it’s part of your program. Breaking up the tedium and stress of an employee’s work day (not to mention sitting on their ass the whole time) is vital to long-term morale, health, and a reduced medical cost for you, the employer.
Third, it means having measures for keeping employees from getting bogged down with work. This doesn’t mean allowing them to slack off. Quite the opposite. Make sure they’re hitting their performance benchmarks. However, don’t get in the habit of piling on more and more work. It’s a morale killer, especially for salaried workers who don’t see a commensurate increase in compensation for satisfactorily performing the increased work they’ve been given. Remember, employees are people, too! Family time, hobby time, and general relaxation time are of high importance to virtually everybody, and serve as ways to de-stress.
Combatting workplace stress is an essential part of a successful corporate wellness program. How do your wellness initiatives keep employees from getting too stressed out?