IT TECHNOLOGY CREATING INCREASING STRESS IN WORKERS WHO USE THEM.........
Posted by Vishva News Reporter on June 3, 2006

 

 

WORK-LIFE BALANCE FOR
A HAPPY LIFE
IS NOT POSSIBLE WITH
WORK STRESS

The stress of increasingly demanding jobs and invisible tethering to wireless devices is taking a rising physical toll on Canadian employees, according to a health study. The highlites of this study are as follows:

  • Stress is also blamed for 40 per cent of employee turnover and 60 per cent of workplace accidents that lead to time lost from work.
  • The study found 29 per cent of those who use wireless communications or laptops to work outside the office found it has raised their stress level in the past year. Another 54 per cent said they feel as stressed being wireless as they do when chained to their desks.

 

  • 62 per cent of employees said they continued to work while ill rather than take time off to recover increasing work stress levels.

Says Dr. Irvin Wolkoff, consulting psychiatrist to Bayview Community Services in Toronto.:

"Unfortunately, the findings show the way people are coping essentially is not coping. We're talking about things that not only cause discomfort, but about things that can actually kill people."

"It is clear that many people are becoming compulsive about taking their workload home with them through computers and internet and wireless communication technology. This is a frightening finding. The intent of these devices was to help people do their jobs better and give them more leisure time to recover from stress."



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Work stress toll
continues to rise

Canadian Globe and Mail: WALLACE IMMEN: Friday, June 2, 2006

The stress of increasingly demanding jobs and invisible tethering to wireless devices is taking a rising physical toll on Canadian employees, according to a health study.

Twenty-one per cent of workers experienced physical health problems because of stress or depression in the past year that were bad enough to make them want to call in sick, the survey of 1,501 Canadian employees by Montreal-based pollster SOM for Desjardins Securities found.

But 62 per cent of employees said they continued to work while ill rather than take time off to recover.

"Unfortunately, the findings show the way people are coping essentially is not coping," says Dr. Irvin Wolkoff, consulting psychiatrist to Bayview Community Services in Toronto. "We're talking about things that not only cause discomfort, but about things that can actually kill people."

Continuing stress elevates levels of hormones that can increase risk of heart attack, stroke and cancer, and reduce resistance to infection.

Recurring physical problems from stress included: fatigue, cited by 20 per cent; headaches, 18 per cent; insomnia, 18 per cent; neck or back pains, 13 per cent; and joint or muscle pains, 10 per cent. The remainder included eating disorders and regular indigestion.

The survey found that on-the-job conflicts with employees or supervisors were the prime cause of 22 per cent of cases of stress or anxiety, with another 21 per cent caused by pressure to complete work.

Another 14 per cent said their main stress source was dealing with the public or customers, 13 per cent cited the fast pace of work, 13 per cent blamed rising volumes of work and 8 per cent blamed long hours. The rest cited lack of support from co-workers.

A fear of losing income was the reason that 37 per cent of employees who worked while sick said they drag themselves into the office. An additional 7 per cent said they feared they'd lose their jobs.




 

The other reasons cited for showing up while ill included fear that work would pile up in their absence (14 per cent); trying to stay active to forget their illness (14 per cent); feeling their illness was not serious enough (12 per cent); and it is not acceptable to stay off (6 per cent). As well, 5 per cent said they felt no one else could do their work and the same percentage said they show up out of dedication to the job.

The survey found that devices that are supposed to help people cope with their workloads have only added to them.

The study found 29 per cent of those who use wireless communications or laptops to work outside the office found it has raised their stress level in the past year. Another 54 per cent said they feel as stressed being wireless as they do when chained to their desks. Just 17 per cent said they thought wireless devices eased their worklife stress.

"It is clear that many people are becoming compulsive about taking their workload home with them," Dr. Wolkoff says. "This is a frightening finding. The intent of these devices was to help people do their jobs better and give them more leisure time to recover from stress."

Employers should be looking at the impact technology is having on employees and help them cope, because the problems caused by stress and mental illness are costly and reduce productivity, Alain Chauvette, senior vice-president of group and business insurance for Desjardins in Montreal, says.

In Canada, stress and mental health problems represent 40 per cent of long-term disability claims and are responsible for 35 million lost workdays, according to estimates made last year by the Global Business and Economic Roundtable on Mental Health.

Stress is also blamed for 40 per cent of employee turnover and 60 per cent of workplace accidents that lead to time lost from work.

To reverse the trend will mean an attitude change, Dr. Wolkoff says.

"Get off the track of bringing in efficiency experts to tell you how to get the most out of your staff," he advises employers. "Consider instead that that they are a valuable asset and look after them and give them the opportunity to look after themselves if they fall ill."



The Globe and Mail. Republished with permission. All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or republished or redistributed without the prior written consent of the copyright holder.



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