Stress workplace wellness

Another Role for Workplace Wellness: Helping Manage Workplace Stress from Long Hours

We’ve written frequently about the risks that surround workplace stress — and the role that a well-run workplace wellness program can play in helping employees manage that stress.

For example, we noted that Workplace Insight reports that “Nearly half (46 percent) of employees questioned in a new survey feel more stressed at work than they did a year ago and 17 percent feel their work stress levels are ‘much higher,’ new research has claimed.”

The research “also suggests that 16 percent of people in work claim to have taken medical advice to help them cope with work-related stress, and 13 percent are on medication partly because of this. Just 12 percent say they feel less stressed than they were 12 months ago.”

We also noted another Workplace Insight report: “More than half (55 percent) of employers have reported an increase in the level of stress and mental health related illnesses at work, according to the annual Benefits and Trends Survey from Aon.”

The post quotes Mark Witte, principal of Aon Employee Benefits, as saying: “Mental health statistics continue to demand action from employers. We know that one in four working days are lost to the issue. This represents a third of long-term absence cases and now this latest headline figure from our own survey suggests a robust mental health strategy should be at the forefront of the HR and business agenda. However, designing an effective strategy can represent a daunting and complex task for some as there can be many underlying influences contributing to the overall picture.”

Now a study in the European Heart Journal reports that “working long hours may increase the risk for atrial fibrillation, or irregular heartbeats that can lead to serious cardiovascular complications,” according to the New York Times.

The study is titled “Long working hours as a risk factor for atrial fibrillation: a multi-cohort study.” Its aims: “Studies suggest that people who work long hours are at increased risk of stroke, but the association of long working hours with atrial fibrillation, the most common cardiac arrhythmia and a risk factor for stroke, is unknown. We examined the risk of atrial fibrillation in individuals working long hours (≥55 per week) and those working standard 35–40 h/week.”

The NYT reports that the researchers “adjusted for many variables — sex, socioeconomic status, obesity, smoking, alcohol use, respiratory disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression and others — and found that the more hours people put in, the greater their risk. Compared with people who worked 35 to 40 hours a week, those who worked more than 55 hours had a 40 percent increased risk of atrial fibrillation.”

As the researchers concluded: “Individuals who worked long hours were more likely to develop atrial fibrillation than those working standard hours.”