This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

September 7, 2011

Increasing Workplace Stress is Hazardous to Health

Employees are working longer hours and enjoying it less. This increased stress is leading to more grey hair and bad eating habits, even when the company offers healthy food options. Good news for hair color companies, bad news for insurance companies.

Experiments, conducted in the United Kingdom published in science journal "Nature", found that chronic pressure can produce chemicals that damage DNA, causing humans to look older over time. The researchers discovered a molecular mechanism through which adrenaline acted to destroy a p53 protein that is useful in preventing cancer.

"This could give us a plausible explanation of how chronic stress may lead to a variety of human conditions and disorders, like greying hair, to life-threatening disorders like malignancies," said prize-winning Professor Robert Lefkowitz of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.

Another soon to be released research report on workplace health by Aviva UK Health also noted that increased workloads and longer hours have prevented staff from taking adequate breaks.

About a third of the employees said they were "unlikely to take a lunch break". Another quarter of respondents will only take a lunch break, "if they feel their workload allows it" and 13 percent will skip meals in the office altogether.

Do you wonder why there’s so much obesity around? Another 19 percent said they tend to "overeat at work" when they are under stress. Precipitated by longer working hours and their unhealthy eating habits at work, 15 percent of employees felt their health has suffered. Yet 43 percent of those surveyed said their managers encouraged them to take breaks.

Even though 45 percent of companies surveyed offer food in their workplaces, over one-third (38 percent) do not provide healthy options. In spite of these employers, 35 percent of staff try to eat healthy food and 30 percent usually bring their own lunches to work.

Our forecast is that when employers realize the real effects on health insurance utilization, more will take real steps to reduce stress for their employees; unfortunately, they will look for Band-Aids®, instead of addressing the real issues of understaffing and the stress that causes. ###

Special thanks to Lee Xieli, Editor for Human Resources Magazine in Singapore for bringing this important issue to light.

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