What is your biggest work-related mistake

The 10 biggest stressors that could be "dangerous" for you

Work can make you sick and in the worst case it can be fatal. A study by Stanford University in the USA identified ten specific factors in your workplace that could be "dangerous" for you. So put an end to speculation: what is it really that makes you sick about your work?

The Occupational Safety and Health Act only "protects" in part

Fortunately, the days of hard physical work in the field or unhealthy conditions in industrial buildings are long gone. Thanks to the Occupational Safety and Health Act, we enjoy a high level of job security in Germany. Every employer is obliged to protect his employees from hazardous situations and substances. Otherwise he faces high fines and the employee can terminate the contract without notice. With an average working time of 40 to 47 hours per week, such occupational health and safety regulations are essential to ensure that employees remain physically healthy in the long term.

Unfortunately, physical stress is not the only stress on the job. While the physical stress caused by heat, noise, heavy lifting or similar strenuous factors will continue to decrease thanks to digitalization in Industry 4.0, more and more people in our western working world are suffering from it a psychological burden. This includes constant deadline pressure, a bad working atmosphere, emotional stress and overtime.

Overtime is a major stressor in everyday work

Employees in Germany do more than 800 million paid overtime per year - and the trend is rising. Although the permissible working hours are strictly regulated in this country, a high number of overtime is legally possible and this is shamelessly exploited in many companies. Occupational health and safety leaves a lot to be desired at this point, because overtime is one of the greatest stressors for employees and makes them sick over the long term.

The most common consequences of (too much) overtime are leaden fatigue, general physical exhaustion, insomnia, depression, and back and joint pain.

No wonder then that employers are increasingly confronted with problems filling positions with overtime. Thanks to the shortage of skilled workers and the better negotiating position of the well-educated Generation Y, they can now place higher demands on their workplace - and that includes less overtime.

Reading tip:Mood of upheaval: How Generation Y is changing the world of work

Nevertheless, a reduction in working hours is not the panacea for a health-promoting workplace. There is more to it than that in order to maintain the health and thus the productivity of employees in the long term.

Because of the steadily rising retirement age and the better health of German employees up to the 50s or 60s, health promotion in the company is more important than ever before. Especially now that there is a lack of highly qualified young people in more and more industries, the older employees are becoming more and more important for maintaining know-how and the economic success of the company.

Reading tip:Company health management: advantages & tips

This also includes - but not only - compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act or a reduction in overtime. But there are numerous other factors that can endanger the health of the workforce in the long term, be it psychological or physical.

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Study identifies the ten biggest stressors in everyday working life

The same buzzwords seem to come up again and again when it comes to the question of the greatest stresses in everyday working life: time pressure, conflicts, overtime. But the renowned Stanford University now wanted to know exactly and has carried out a comprehensive study on the subject - with quite surprising results:

  • For US health insurers, the consequences of stress at work cost US $ 190 billion a year.
  • An analysis of a total of 228 studies in cooperation between Stanford University and Harvard Business School came to the conclusion that there are a total of ten stressors that are responsible for most work-related illnesses and deaths in the USA - and therefore also (at least in part) throughout the western world of work.

These stressors in the workplace, which can make you sick or even end fatally, include the following:

  1. Job insecurity increases the risk of damage to health by 50 percent.
  2. Overtime leads to a higher mortality rate of up to 20 percent.
  3. Constant pressure to perform leads to physical complications with a 35 percent higher probability.
  4. In the USA, the lack of health insurance is another major stressor, which fortunately no longer applies in Germany thanks to the nationwide health system.
  5. Economic or financial insecurity, i.e. fears of existence, also lead to a higher mortality rate.

In the 228 studies evaluated, the most common physical complications were heart attacks, strokes, an increased accident rate (e.g. due to decreased concentration) and flu infections due to a weakened immune system. On the psychological level, a connection between stressors at work and depression, anxiety disorders and dementia was identified. Overall, the professors at Stanford University summarize the ten greatest stressors in the workplace - and thus risks to your health - in two different groups:

Ten greatest stressors with consequential damage to health on a physical level:

  1. Lack of health insurance
  2. Feeling of injustice in the workplace
  3. Pressure to perform
  4. shift work
  5. unemployment
  6. Secondhand smoke
  7. Feeling of being out of control at work
  8. Little social support in the workplace
  9. overtime
  10. Job insecurity

Ten biggest stressors with consequential damage to health on a psychological level:

  1. Bad work-life balance
  2. unemployment
  3. Pressure to perform
  4. Feeling of injustice in the workplace
  5. Secondhand smoke
  6. Job insecurity
  7. Feeling of being out of control at work
  8. Little social support in the workplace
  9. shift work
  10. overtime

Especially with regard to the mental health of employees, topics such as work-life balance, a better work-life balance and the restriction of constant availability should be the focus not only at German companies. There is a lack of relaxation periods - with and without the family.

But with regard to the increase in the mortality rate, the poor work-life balance “only” ranks fifth. According to the Stanford study, the following can be fatal for you:

  1. Feeling of being out of control at work
  2. unemployment
  3. Lack of health insurance
  4. overtime
  5. Bad work-life balance
  6. Secondhand smoke

It is therefore time, in view of these developments, to look for new solutions for health prevention in German companies and to integrate these firmly into company health management. The tension between “remote work” clearly shows that this is not an easy task: on the one hand, teleworking improves the compatibility of work and family, but at the same time increases the risk of loneliness for those affected and can therefore be fatal in extreme cases .

Reading tip:Remote Work: Telework promotes loneliness - and can be fatal

As interesting as the study results may be for German employers, the task of evaluating them and translating them into concrete problem-solving proposals will be just as difficult. Nevertheless, corporate health management is no longer a question of "if", but of "when". In the current times of a shortage of skilled workers, it is not only essential for your employer branding, but also simply for the health, satisfaction and thus performance of your employees at all ages and thus for your future economic success.

Which stressors do you personally suffer most from in everyday working life? What solutions would you come up with for the mentioned problems in the workplace or which ones do you know from your own experience? To what extent do you estimate the development of psychological or physical secondary illnesses as a result of work in the future? Is the problem likely to get worse or is there an improvement in sight? We look forward to your individual opinion in the comments!

Photo credit: Minerva Studio / Shutterstock.com


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