Work, stress and you: Is there a healthy solution?
March 12, 1999
From Medical Correspondent
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.
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
National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
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