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Work, stress and you: Is there a healthy solution?

work place

   Road rage on the information superhighway


Are you stressed out at work?

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March 12, 1999
Web posted at: 7:29 p.m. EST (0029 GMT)

From Medical Correspondent
Eileen O'Connor

BALTIMORE (CNN) -- In light of recent studies showing a relationship between stress and illness, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the American Psychological Association held a conference in Baltimore this week to discuss ways to deal with stress in the workplace.

NIOSH reports at least one quarter of today's workers feel stressed at work.

"We know that as we start to measure health effects, that people who are stressed at work cost companies more money, have more problems with heart disease, we think, have more problems with increased injury risk, (and) other kinds of medical problems," said Linda Rosenstock, director of NIOSH.

According to NIOSH, worker stress can be brought on by a number of things including: heavy workload; long hours; no decision-making power; poor social environment; conflicting or uncertain job expectations; job insecurity; or lack of growth opportunities.

One study presented at the conference showed a direct association between corporate downsizing and a rise in medically certified sick leave.

"There's no question that more American workers, now about half, are really worried that they may face a layoff sometime in the future," Rosenstock said.

A recent Louis Harris poll found the workweek has increased by 15 percent in the last 25 years, while leisure time has decreased 37 percent.

CNN Medical Correspondent Eileen O'Connor reports on the ways some companies help employees deal with stress
Windows Media28K80K
Corporate downsizing, family issues, and just plain overload. Sound familiar? Tell us what you think!
  • Heavy workload
  • Long hours
  • No freedom to make decisions
  • Poor social environment
  • Conflicting or uncertain job expectations
  • Job insecurity
  • No opportunity to grow
  • Headache
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Short temper
  • Job dissatisfaction

    Source: NIOSH
  • Data from the Families and Work Institute indicates that 13 percent of Americans are now holding second jobs, and 70 percent of parents say they don't have enough time with their children.

    Stress at work can cause a number of medical problems including: headaches; sleep disturbance; difficulty in concentrating; short temper; upset stomach; and job dissatisfaction.

    To help remove stress from the workplace, Rosenstock suggested, "look at the company as patient and really try to come up with organizational changes that will promote a healthy workplace."

    The Marriott Corporation is one company trying to lighten the load of its workers through the creation of work-life programs.

    At Marriott corporate headquarters, a dry cleaners and a convenience store were opened and aerobic classes also are offered. Marriott has also instituted a resource line to help employees cope with everything from a broken-down car to a death in the family.

    The company estimates the hotline alone has given them a four-to-one return on their investment and plans to expand such programs are under way.

    Some Marriott workers have said benefits such as on-site child care are actually more important than monetary compensation.

    Research links mental stress, more deaths from heart disease
    March 9, 1999
    Big IT salaries aren't enough for stress, long hours
    December 2, 1998
    Study: Stress management reduces heart attack risk
    October 19,1997

    National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
    APA-NIOSH Interdisciplinary Conference on Work, Stress, and Health
    Families and Work Institute
    American Psychological Association
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