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health, work health, stress at work

 Jeffrey Pfeffer of Stanford University has written a book titled Dying for a Paycheck: How Modern Management Harms Employee Health and Company Performance – And What We Can Do About It.

The book is sure to get a lot of attention, and deservedly so – Pfeffer is covering some very relevant (and concerning) territory here. As a Career Coach, I see consistently see the physical and emotional tolls work can take on one’s health. It’s something we should all be talking about a lot more – and I’m glad Pfeffer is putting the story front and center with his new book.

Pfeffer recently did an interview with The Economist in which he shined a light on some of the statistics and observations about the modern workplace and how it is putting professionals in unhealthy situations.

Just a few of the noteworthy excerpts from that interview include:

Work harms employees in two fundamental ways. In the US, employment status and your employer determine your access to health-care—if you will have health insurance, how much you will pay, and who will care for you. Gallup reports that 33% of people said they had to forgo filling a prescription or seeing a doctor during the preceding year because of cost. Second, employers affect the stress-inducing conditions of work: work-family conflict, long work hours, absence of control over one’s work environment, and economic insecurity. Stress makes people sick both directly and by inducing unhealthy individual behaviours such as smoking, drinking, and overeating.

Evidence shows work hours are negatively related to productivity, that giving people more autonomy leads to higher motivation, and that layoffs often harm performance, including profits. So in making employees sick, employers have created a lose-lose situation.

An Oxford Martin School study of 702 occupations noted that 47% of American jobs were at high risk, with 35% in Britain and 49% in Japan. A McKinsey study noted the likely widespread job loss and job disruption on the horizon. Unemployment and economic insecurity are serious health risks because of their consequences for stress and income. The gig economy is characterised by irregular work schedules, and here again, the evidence shows the harmful health effects.

Read the whole article for more alarming insights, and/or order the book now.