Home > How High-Stress Jobs and Smoking are Literally the Same

How High-Stress Jobs and Smoking are Literally the Same

In CancerDiseaseGuest BloggerHealthWork |

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On December 18, 2018

An average American works approximately 35 hours a week. They sit eight hours behind their desk every day and work continuously with only two 10-minute breaks in-between. Most employees spend their breaks smoking.


A recent study by Stanford and Harvard universities found that workplace stress is just as bad as second-hand smoke. In fact, the study revealed that workplace stress can impact the health of an individual both directly and indirectly. Direct factors include alcohol abuse, smoking, and drug consumption to cope with the stress generated by workplace responsibilities. Indirect factors that may affect the health of an employee include long working hours, heavy job demands, the absence of job control, a lack of social support, and work-family conflicts.


Regardless of the factors involved, the study concluded that stress produced in the workplace is related to numerous negative health outcomes including increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, depression, and anxiety – all of which are normally associated with smoking.


Understanding the correlation between high-stress jobs and smoking requires one to learn the various factors that create workplace stress in the first place. Let’s take a look at a few of the factors that may contribute to workplace stress:


Work-Life Imbalance:

Managing work-life balance can be a challenge for most employees, particularly due to long working hours. Over-demanding schedules and inflexible working hours can often be overwhelming. Employees working long hours and managing a great deal of workload do not find the time to unwind and this can often lead to pressure on family and personal relationships outside of work. Sometimes the interference of work with an employee’s personal life due to long working hours or commuting can build up stress and lead to both mental and physical exhaustion over time.



Negative Workplace Environment:

An organizational culture that tolerates discrimination, bullying or harassment can be another cause of distress among the employees. Workplace culture and environment can play a significant role in the well-being of an employee. Conflicts among employees are natural and often healthy, however, if these conflicts lead to bullying or personal attacks or threats, this can lead to serious distress.


An organization can use survey makers or employee survey templates to gain feedback on whether they feel comfortable working within the organization. Employees must be given the option to fill these surveys anonymously as well in order to allow honest feedback regarding the organizational culture. Once the feedback been obtained, managers should take specific measures to ensure that they address the issues effectively. Conflict resolution techniques can be used by managers, and policies can be put in place to discourage unacceptable behavior.


Role Ambiguity:

Employee performance can influence the perception that employees have about themselves. Role ambiguity refers to the inability of an employee to determine what it is that they are required to do as a part of the organization. Lack of training can contribute to role ambiguity where the employee has insufficient knowledge regarding the job position they have been assigned. Lack of knowledge regarding the job position can lead to poor performances that negatively influence the well being of an employee by generating unwanted stress.


An organization should ensure that it clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of all the employees and provides them with clear instructions and training as to how they are expected to perform the job that they have been assigned. Employee training software, e-Learning tools, and employee surveys built using employee survey templates are a great way to provide skill development opportunities for employees to improve job performance.



Lack of Support:

Employee confidence is linked with the positive professional and social support that they get from their team, manager and family members. A lack of such support can lead employees to doubt themselves, feel undervalued and question their contributions at the workplace. These feelings can lead to the development of stress and frustration.


A great way to overcome this issue is through ensuring that the manager along with team members provide constructive feedback and show encouragement when the employees do a good job. Introducing a performance-based reward system can also help offer support and recognition to the employees.


Other means of showing encouragement and support could include kind gestures like a thumbs up or a pat on the back as a sign of acknowledging their valuable contributions. Similarly, family support can also influence the well-being of an employee. Even though an organization has limited control over this factor, they can send emails of recognition or invite family members to office events to demonstrate the value of an employee to the family members as well thereby gaining their approval and support in the process.



Lack of Control:

Another key factor that leads to the development of job stress is a lack of control. When employees are restricted in their ability to make a change or contribution to an organization, they feel boxed in. Employees should be encouraged to become valuable members of the decision-making process and should not be excluded from offering suggestions and opinions. They should be provided a certain level of flexibility and autonomy in terms of how they perform their job or how they approach a certain project.


The manager of an organization should trust the ability of an employee to make effective decisions on their own and work at their own pace to generate positive outcomes. More control over the workplace environment can offer employees a sense of liberation that is crucial to better performance as well as creativity. When employees have the freedom to work at their own pace, explore new ideas or take non-traditional approaches to work, they are more likely to be creative, confident and perform better.


Furthermore, this sort of autonomy and independence can convey to the employees that they are valued members of the organization, thereby positively influencing their well-being. Organizations may employ survey software to add to the well-being of their employees.

Last modified: December 18, 2018

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