When the topic of work stress is brought up, there are several suggestions of how to combat the serious issue – vacations, taking a break for a while or exercising more and eating healthier.
In certain job positions and situations these are great options, but not for those people who have irregular schedules, no benefits, no protection against lay offs or have to work multiple jobs to get by.
Work stress for some is inevitable and chronic, and in a new study it has been found that it does actually shorten lives.
In the study done by researchers at Stanford and Harvard found that stressful workplace shorten life spans and the amount of life lost to stress ‘varies significantly for people of different races, educational levels and genders, and ranges up to nearly three years of life lost for some groups.’
Although some groups were affected more than others, across all demographics ‘the combination of layoffs, unemployment and lack of health insurance was the biggest contributor toward inequity in life spans.’ The biggest after that was low job control, job insecurity and shift work.
In an editorial about the study, the New York Times points out that ‘the unavoidable conclusion is that a healthier population requires healthier workplaces.’
Healthier workplaces tend to include job security, health care benefits and pensions – things that a union provides. Having someone to stand behind you when you are paid less than you should be or when an abusive boss or coworker is making the workplace unbearable is so important in creating a healthy work environment.
Another important element of a healthy work environment is mental health support for dealing with stress. While there are physical health requirement in workplaces, currently there are no mandatory mental health resources available – something Teamsters 362 and Teamsters Canada have been working towards changing.
The results of the study are clear, as we move into an economy of precarious work, low wages and unstable hours, more needs to be done to create healthier workplaces for all demographics.