I have written several columns about work related stress. I am addressing it again because it is not declining. It seems like a hamster in the wheel dynamic, but this dynamic is literally killing people. So lets talk about it again.
Nicole writes: “Someone was always on top of me, “ says the 42 year old. “I had regular panic attacks, felt like I would faint at any moment and was always on the verge of tears. The job literally made me sick – my health had gotten to a point that was unlivable, unworkable and a mess.”
So she quit her job to save her life.
It may sound a bit dramatic, but Jeffery Pfeffer, a Stanford professor and author of “Dying for a Paycheck” says that toxic workplace practices – micromanagement, fear of layoffs, pressure to work more hours, and making people feel they are not good enough — is the fifth leading cause of death, in front of Alzheimer’s and kidney disease.
“People stay in jobs that are unhealthy for them, which cause stress,” he says. “That often leads to smoking, drinking, overeating, not sleeping AND dying.” Pfeffer’s book is a call to action that companies need to change and the individuals, when they are in workplaces that are overridden with stress, need to quit.
What is unfortunate is that companies will probably NOT read his book. The hamster in the wheel dynamic looks like the following: 1. The employee goes to work for a company/business. 2. No big issues at first. 3. As time goes on, the micromanagement becomes more annoying. 4. The workload increases (you notice you are doing the job of 2, not what your job description defines). 5. You notice you have more headaches than usual, you sleep less due to dread of another day at the job, that second glass of wine helped to unwind. 6. Management seems more punitive and totally lacking in appreciation, job pressures increase. 7. You need the benefits and paycheck…..what do you do?
The work place movie, “The Death of the Employee” plays on. Here are some things we can do:
1. Take action before your cardiologist tells you your heart cannot continue with intense stress.
2. Take care of yourself — Don’t work an unsustainable schedule, skip vacation or miss spending time with family and friends. These things buffer the effects of stress.
3. Its not just about you — job-related stress kills families, marriages and friendships.
4. Work for an employer who values health and well-being – work is more than money, and money cannot completely undo damage to relationships or physical or mental health.