Tuesday, 25 January 2011 16:00A study that was recently published in the journal Neuron has suggested that people with certain neurological traits may be more prone to depression when exposed to a stressful environment.
Results may suggest that stress could be even more detrimental to employees than previously thought. Implementing employee wellness programs that combat stress could help reduce employee health benefit costs due to later complications. Additionally, benefits that include mental healthcare coverage could prevent depression in certain employees.
Scientists from Yamaguchi University in Japan tested mice with different genetic traits. They found that one type of mice was resilient when exposed to chronic mild stress while the other showed depression-like behaviors in response.
The mice who were more susceptible to stress and eventually depression had less expressive neurotrophic factors, which help regulate brain plasticity.
Co-author Dr. Shusaku Uchida said the results of the study could lead to novel ways for depression treatment.
Doctors at the Mayo Clinic back up the suggestion that chronic stress could lead to depression and a severely impacted quality of life.
Employers who take proactive steps to combat workplace stress may be putting themselves at an advantage by preventing more serious conditions in their employees.
Tuesday, 25 January 2011 16:00Researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health have conducted a study, which shows that an organization's key employees experience the most job-related stress.
Of the 18 percent of survey respondents who reported that their job was highly stressful, most were higher-level employees or management who worked long hours and had anxiety about how their performance would affect others.
Results from the study may suggest that employee wellness programs that target workers with the most responsibilities could significantly reduce workplace stress and boost employee performance.
Dr. Carolyn Dewa, senior scientist and head of CAMH's Work and Well-being Research and Evaluation Program, noted a $17 billion annual cost in Canada due to low productivity and said that employee health benefits that are inclusive of mental health could help lower those costs.
"Employers should be very concerned with keeping this population healthy. From a business perspective, it is in a company's best interest to support these workers," said Dewa.
The researchers examined 2,737 individuals between 18 and 65 years old. More than 80 percent said they had low job stress, and those workers tended to be single, male and work for a small business.
Sunday, 16 January 2011 16:00Employees who suppress positive attitudes at work drain themselves of energy and end up with more negative feelings regarding their job and organization, according to a recent study by researchers from Rice University, Purdue University and the University of Toronto.
Some professionals - like journalists, doctors and law enforcement officers - are obligated to retain a neutral demeanor in order to do their jobs. However, the study showed that in a customer service position, participants who were asked to suppress their positive emotions had poorer employee performance and experienced higher workplace stress.
Employers in industries like medicine or law enforcement where a straight face is required may be able to counteract these negative feelings through employee wellness programs. Studies have shown that regular exercise combats stress, so a workplace gym or gym membership could help professionals in these fields. An article on the Atlanta Business Chronicle website says fostering open communication, honesty and encouragement are key things bosses can do to help workers. It also suggests implementing a company sports league to build morale and support systems.
Individuals who do not work in fields that require a poker face may want to keep in mind that a positive attitude can be contagious. The study showed that customers who interacted with happy employees rated the organization better in the end.
Whatever the job description, studies have shown stress to be detrimental to health and productivity. Employee wellness programs are available to combat stress and help support a company's bottom line.
Thursday, 13 January 2011 16:00A study by the American Psychological Association reveals that three quarters of Americans are stressed out, with 70 percent of respondents saying work is the cause of their worries. In addition to providing wellness programs, bosses and managers can take small steps toward a lighter work environment and enhanced employee performance.
Employers should be mindful of their own actions, remain aware of sources of stress around the office, be positive about wellness programs and encourage employees to take personal time to create a balanced workplace, according to an article on NuWire Investor's website.
Research has shown that employees sometimes mimic their managers' reactions to stressors. This could mean that a happy, stress-free boss will shape workers with a similar demeanor.
Employers should also be able to communicate with employees regarding sources of stress in the workplace. Communication and observation are key in deciding whether changes should be made to avoid conflicts, the news provider further reports.
Finally, personal time to refresh is essential to a happy employee. Companies should make sure workers are taking allotted vacation time and consider using unoccupied office space as a break area.
Small steps toward a stress-free workplace make excellent supplements to wellness programs and can help boost employee performance.
Thursday, 06 January 2011 16:00Prolonged workplace stress is known to cause physical symptoms such as fatigue or body aches, and some people may be more prone to them than others. In fact, according to a recent Swedish study, stress-related neck pain is a common occurrence, and it affects female workers more than their male colleagues.
In one part of the study, the researchers distributed questionnaires to more than 800 professionals who used computers at work. They found that the women respondents experienced more neck and upper back pain, regardless of their occupation. Moreover, the pain was related to psychosocial factors, such as the stress related to every day work duties.
The study's author, Anna Grimby-Ekman, a postdoctoral student at the University of Gothenburg, says that while the association between physical work - such as heavy lifting - and pain is clear, her research has begun to shed light on some of the mental reasons for muscle pain among those whose jobs are less physically demanding.
The American Psychological Association reports more than 30 percent of Americans are living with extreme stress, and almost 48 percent think their stress levels have increased in recent years.
However, it has also been shown that women who practice yoga postures, breath control and meditation recover from stress faster than those who do not, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. To facilitate such outcomes, some companies offer employee health benefits that cover wellness programs.
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