Workplace stress may induce cardiovascular problems
Monday, 29 August 2011 16:00Intense stress on the job may cause workers to engage in unhealthy habits, such as drinking, smoking or overeating. Additionally, anxiety is known to induce many physiological ramifications, which may lead to a compromised cardiovascular system.
An article on TheHeart.org cited a number of studies which point to an increased risk of heart and blood pressure problems for employees who are overly stressed at work.
One study from Finland involved public sector employees that worked at least three hours of overtime each day. They were found to have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease when compared to their counterparts who worked standard eight-hour days, according to the news source.
Another trial conducted in Italy showed that 78 percent of men who were relatively anger- and stress-free avoided a heart attack over a 10-year period, compared to 57 percent of men who reported having anxiety and anger issues.
Harvard Women's Health Watch has reported that women in high-stress jobs have a 40 percent increased risk of heart disease, compared to females who did not experience workplace stress.
These findings underscore the importance of employee wellness programs, which provide tools and resources for stress management in an effort to improve staff health, strengthen employee performance and lower costs stemming from health insurance.
Key factors in implementing an employee wellness program
Sunday, 28 August 2011 16:00As with most programs and business strategies, proper implementation is key in attaining success.
An article in Benefits Canada reports that building an effective wellness initiative begins with upper management, making sure that they see the value in a program and will provide support and assistance to ensure that the company is getting the most out of its wellness dollars.
Additionally, the news source recommends manager involvement in building a strategy for a program and integrating it in a way that makes sense for the business.
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety reports that companies should compile baseline employee health and benefit data before beginning an initiative. This will help administrators choose a program tailored to the companies needs. Additionally, the information will allow employers to compare employee wellness before and after an effort is implemented.
Inter-office promotion of an initiative is key to educating staff members on the new program, its benefits and how to participate, according to the organization. This may be done by placing posters throughout the workplace, through face-to-face communication, during demonstration meetings and by email.
Foundation urges organizations to offer wellness incentives
Sunday, 28 August 2011 16:00Research has indicated that employee wellness programs are growing in prevalence, as companies begin to see the value of improving staff health in an effort to reduce workplace stress, strengthen employee performance and cut down on employee health benefit costs.
Scientists at the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) are now saying that offering incentives may help increase the number of workers who participate in wellness programs, thereby strengthening the initiatives' efficacy.
Authors of the study noted that about $2.5 trillion is spent each year on healthcare in the U.S.
"As much as 75 percent of that is spent on preventable conditions, so the potential savings through preventative healthcare measures that include workplace wellness programs could be as high as $1.9 trillion per year," said Rodger Stotz, IRF's chief research officer.
Additionally, the foundation reported that businesses with initiatives in place are likely to see improved employee performance and staff quality of life.
The scientists said that organizations that do not offer incentives to workers for engaging in wellness programs have an estimated 20 percent participation rate. Conversely, those that do offer rewards boast an 80 percent rate of participation.
Could workplace stress be partially blamed for rising healthcare costs?
Thursday, 25 August 2011 16:00Researchers at Concordia University conducted a study based on nationally representative data of workers aged 18 to 65 and found significant correlations between workplace stress, illness and healthcare costs in Canada.
They discovered that workers in high-stress positions are more likely to visit doctors and medical specialists for mental and physical conditions than their counterparts that experience less workplace stress.
In fact, the researchers estimated that healthcare appointments are up by about 26 percent for employees who experience anxiety as a result of their profession.
Authors of the study theorized that this effect may be due to the harm that stress can cause on the immune system, as well as the lifestyle habits that it can influence.
"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," said co-author Mesbah Sharaf.
In an analysis of the healthcare costs that may be stemming from workplace stress, the researchers examined data from U.S. employees. Authors cited findings that 70 percent of Americans report that their job is a major source of stress, and 51 percent said they believe their anxiety reduces productivity.
"It is estimated that healthcare utilization induced by stress costs U.S. companies $68 billion annually and reduces their profits by 10 percent," said Sharaf.
As a result, the study authors said that it may be reasonable to conclude that reducing workplace stress could be an effective strategy to lower healthcare costs nationwide.
First author Sunday Azagba said that improving working conditions and providing education on tools and resources for stress management may help keep employee benefit costs low. Additionally, reducing tension and anxiety among workers may strengthen employee performance, cut down on absenteeism and even help organizations retain staff members.
The researchers used data from the Canadian National Population Health Survey, which included workers in the mechanical, trade, professional, managerial, health, service and agricultural sectors. The scientists examined the participants' frequency of healthcare visits, chronic illnesses, marital status and income level, as well as smoking and drinking habits in order to reach their conclusions.
Tips for workers on the brink of burnout
Wednesday, 24 August 2011 16:00There are several types of employees that experience job burnout, from the under-challenged to the overworked.
The Mayo Clinic reports that a burned out worker may also be excessively stressed, fatigued, depressed or anxious, as well as have trouble sleeping or develop substance abuse problems.
The medical source recommended identifying and targeting the root of burnout in order to address feelings of disengagement. Additionally, evaluating concerns with a supervisor may help both parties come to a solution or compromise that could alleviate workplace stress.
An article in FYI Living reports that employees who are prone to burnout should build a good relationship with their boss.
Telecommuting may also help break up the monotony of the workweek, or provide a much-needed break from stressful co-workers, according to the news source.
FYI Living also recommended that employees adorn their workspace with photos of family, friends and nature to help make a positive impact and provide some inspiration.
Additionally, employee wellness programs that provide tools and resources for stress management have been shown to effectively reduce workplace stress and strengthen employee performance.
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