Self-scheduling may reduce stress and improve mental health
Tuesday, 22 February 2011 16:00A Cochrane Systematic Review of ten studies on flexible working hours has revealed that workers who are able to make their own hours tend to be happier and less stressed than those with fixed schedules.
In total, the studies involved more than 16,600 people and the researchers found that workers who were allowed to self-schedule had healthier blood pressure levels, better sleep quality and fewer instances of mental illness than counterparts with rigid work hours.
Authors of the study noted a trend toward flexible scheduling in Europe. The practice is now common in Scandinavian countries and the UK recently passed legislation that allows parents of children under 16 to request from employers the privilege to make their own hours.
"Flexible working seems to be more beneficial for health and well-being where the individuals control their own work patterns, rather than where employers are in control," said Clare Bambra, lead author of the review.
These results suggest that organizations with the ability to offer flexible working hours to employees may be effective in reducing workplace stress and strengthening employee performance. Additional benefits may include reduced healthcare costs due to lessened mental illness.
Improving heart health may promote good memory
Monday, 21 February 2011 16:00Researchers have recently conducted a study which suggests that individuals with a healthy cardiovascular system may also have better memory function than their counterparts with high blood pressure and cholesterol.
The study was completed by scientists at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research and will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology annual meeting this spring.
Scientists examined the health data of more than 4,700 individuals with an average age of 55 over a 10-year period. They found a correlation between poor cardiovascular health - which included blood pressure rates, cholesterol levels, smoking status, age, gender and whether the participant was diabetic - and lower scores on a memory test.
The link was more pronounced in women. Females with a 10 percent higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease scored 7.1 percent lower on a memory test, while men with the same risk level scored 2.8 percent lower.
Results of the study suggest that employee wellness programs that focus on heart and physical health may also improve the memory function of staff members. Organizations that wish to improve employee performance and reduce workplace stress may want to consider offering gym memberships and other tools and resources to promote cardiovascular health.
Jet-lag may cause memory disturbances
Thursday, 10 February 2011 16:00Research conducted at the University of California, Berkeley suggests that flight attendants and employees who frequently travel between time zones may suffer from long-term memory loss due to jet-lag.
Scientists examined hamsters who were subjected to six-hour time shifts twice a week for a month and found that the rodents experienced impaired learning and memory function when compared with a control group.
Furthermore, the time changes affected cell maturation in the hippocampus region of the animals' brains, and negative effects lasted for more than four weeks.
Results of the study suggest that airlines and organizations with employees who make frequent business trips across time zones should take steps to reduce workplace stress. Employee wellness programs can include tools and resources on stress management and healthy sleep patterns.
"The evidence is overwhelming that disruptions in circadian timing have a direct impact on human health and disease," said Lance Kriegsfeld, the study's co-author.
In addition to providing stress relief tools to employees, organizations may also want to ensure that workers receive comprehensive health benefits to maintain a healthy staff.
Women with normal blood pressure less likely to develop cardiovascular disease
Monday, 24 January 2011 16:00Researchers in 11 different countries examined some 10,000 people for 11 years and found that high systolic blood pressure is a strong predictor of cardiovascular disease, uncovering one more way to prevent complications.
Results from the study may suggest that organizations could lower costs stemming from sickness-related absenteeism by implementing employee wellness programs that promote physical and mental well-being.
Smoking and high cholesterol were other common and preventable indicators of the disease, which can cause stroke, heart attack and heart failure.
Employers may also want to consider concentrating on women's health when choosing an employee wellness plan, since researchers noted that hypertension had more of an effect on females than it did on their male counterparts.
"We found that a 15 mm Hg increase in systolic blood pressure increased the risk of cardiovascular disease by 56 percent in women compared to 32 percent in men," said Dr. Jan A. Staessen, director of the Studies Coordinating Center in the Division of Cardiovascular Rehabilitation at the University of Leuven in Belgium.
By introducing workers to employee wellness plans that can help reduce stress and improve physical health, employers may be able to cut costs by preventing more serious diseases.
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