Could stress at work be the new smoking?
After working with women to improve heart health and manage stress for more than a decade, I discovered there isn’t enough data about the specifics of the job stress environment and how it impacts men and women differently.
This led me to embark on a multiphase research project to explore this important topic.
Research suggests the stress environment in the work place could be as dangerous as second-hand smoke. In fact, the United Nations’ International Labor Organization calls chronic job stress a global epidemic. How risky is job stress, really? We all know stress is a risk factor for heart disease and other illnesses. According to several studies, if your job is highly demanding and you have little control over how you do that job, your risk of heart attack and stroke increases by nearly one-third. For women, the risk increases by 40 percent. In addition to being a significant risk factor for disease, job stress decreases productivity and creativity and increases health care costs, absenteeism, and hinders employee retention.
That is the bad news.
The good news is, like smoking, job stress is something we can control. No, you may not be able to change how you do your job, but you can control your reaction to the situation and offset the stress with healthy habits. Removing exposure to second-hand smoke has decrease the incidence of heart disease by 30%. What would be the impact of better managing the stress environment of work?
The study is currently in the first phase, collecting data about job stress. A broad base of responses from all ages, genders, and job categories is needed.
How can you help?
Please take three minutes to complete this simple survey about job stress.
The larger the sample of respondents, the more significant the results will be. No personally identifying information is collected.
The second phase will explore job stress in specific companies and associations. We are looking for organizations to partner with us on the study as well as companies who have created positive work environments to use as case studies. Several health care organizations and associations have already joined the study. We are seeking companies in varied industries to increase the validity of the study. These organizations will receive detailed reports about their unique job stress environment and there is no cost to participate. If you know of a company or association that would be a great fit for the study, please fill out the contact form here.
The third phase will examine the effectiveness of stress environment interventions in organizations.
The initial results of the study have been fascinating and I’m looking forward to sharing the results and working to create healthy stress environments at work.
Eliz Greene is a heart health journalist and motivational wellness speaker specializing in serving women in business. Her humor and personal stories of recovering from a massive heart attack while seven-months pregnant with twins illustrate simple strategies for health and success participants can fit into an already busy day. Her Heart of Wellness Video Program is making a difference in employee health around the country:
“I went into this thinking how inconvenient it would be to find a few minutes a day to watch these videos. After all, I’m sure most of us have heard these topics before by other wellness programs or even our doctors. However, once I started, I came to appreciate the approach. The calm and relaxing way the topic was relayed, actually helped me process the information better. Reminding me “I Will Because” kept me focused on my purpose. The best part, my blood pressure has improved!” City of Bryan, Texas Employee