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Overcoming work stress to stay at work


Stress caused from work can literally make you sick. Stomach aches, headaches, and even joint pain caused by work stress can lead to taking a leave of absence. Studies now show that if the employer would offer emotional and instrumental support, the employee is more likely to recover and stay at work being productive.

Earlier studies have shown the relationship between low job satisfaction and stress due to high job demands and low control and incidences of physiological symptoms like stomach aches and fatigue. With time away from the stress of work, symptoms recede. This time away from work can be quantified and it is estimated that the US is losing approximately $225.8 billion per year due to absenteeism. This new study set out to examine what interpersonal workplace dynamics are affecting worker’s burnout and whether those dynamics influence an employee’s decision to leave work to recover.

Employees in China were studied. The distance between supervisor and worker is far enough apart that any change in support could be monitored and noted. Employees were asked to report their stress symptoms, their supervisor’s response and whether or not they took time off due to the illness. Data on sick time was also provided by the employer.

Results showed that supervisor intervention and support made a real difference to absenteeism. When bosses offered lightened work load or stress management training, the worker stayed in place. “The worker who is given this sort of support is more likely to overcome the somatic stress and continue to work productively, leaving recovery for the normal after-work hours when we recharge our batteries,” explained Dr. Michal Biron of the University of Haifa’s Graduate School of Management. Co-worker support also helped the ailing workers.

The economic loss of absenteeism is enormous. This study shows that supports from management greatly impact the desire and ability for an employee to stay at work and stay productive.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology

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