Workplace stress is as hazardous to employees’ health as secondhand smoke is, a recent research suggests.
A team of researchers from the Harvard Business School and Stanford University sifted through hundreds of studies looking for health risks posed by workplace stress and secondhand smoke. The final results showed that the risk factors had similar effects on people’s overall health on the long run.
The findings may help employers find better strategies to boost their staffers’ health and be more productive. So far, companies have offered their employees lifestyle changing programs that were only focused on diet and exercising. Stress at work and home was often overlooked. This may be why many of the said programs failed to provide the expected results.
During their research, scientists dug into more than 220 studies on the health impact of stress and secondhand smoking. Researchers hope that their finding may shift focus from employee behavior to other external factors when trying to achieve an optimal health at workplace.
Scientists found that there are 10 major stressors at workplace that have a clear negative impact on the employees’ psychical and emotional health, and their risk of death from all causes on the long run.
The recent study was based on data on more than 1,000 volunteers of whom more than 50 percent were monitored for extended periods of time.
Among the 10 major stress factors, study authors mentioned poor management, excessive overtime work, lack of health care coverage, excessive job demands, job insecurity, and a lack of balance between work and family.
But the highest stressor of them all was job insecurity, researchers noted. The team found that whenever this factor was at play, the health of the study participants’ was surely on a declining trend in more than 50 percent of cases.
The second stressor that impacted worker health was working long hours. Long hours at work had been linked with a cohort of health conditions including risk of heart disease and stroke and high mortality rate. But the recent study shows that overtime is also a major stressor which may explain the large incidence of somatic diseases in people who routinely report it.
Working overtime may boost the risk of premature death from all causes by 20 percent, while high job demands may up by up to 35 percent the risk of developing a severe illness later in life including fatal cardiovascular disease.
Overall, the health risks posed by a stressful work life were as high as the ones of secondhand smoking, which was also found to boost risk of developing heart disease or getting a stroke by up to 30 percent.
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