In this feature, Dr Norman Swan, presenter on RN’s Heath Report radio show, addresses the theory that workplace stress matches passive smoking as a factor of poor health with Jeffrey Pfeffer, Professor of Organisational Behaviour at Stanford University.  Dr Swan and Professor Pfeffer discussed findings from his research studies suggesting that where you work, and how you are managed, have a considerable impact upon your health and the similarity of those consequences to a lack of exercise and poor eating habits.

The research analysed showed that in the US, workplace stressors such as work / family conflict, long working hours and the absence of job control – defined as psychosocial stressors – have contributed to a 50% increase in poor health, physician diagnosed illness and age related death rates, resulting in over 120,000 deaths per year. Whilst society is being encouraged to eat healthily, exercise more, drink less alcohol and to stop smoking, Professor Pfeffer commented that the drivers for unhealthy behaviours also need to be addressed, including workplace stress.

Professor Pfeffer and his team examined 228 studies from which data was extracted; common causes of stress within the workplace included:

  • Economic insecurities, such as concern regarding job security;
  • A low level of social support, resulting in employees being required to cope with workplace pressures without a support network;
  • A lack of transparency – understanding the decisions that are being made by executive teams and the reasons for these decisions.

The full radio segment (approx 10 mins) can be heard below; further information on Professor Pfeffer and his research can be viewed here.

Image courtesy of The Huffington Post.