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Voices of our Nation

Causes and Solutions to Workplace Stress

“You are allowed to be human”

According to a number of surveys, a common type of stress that we see in everyday society is workplace stress. The files piling up on your desk, the phantom phone rings and the constant humming of the computers is a few of many parts and parcels of the workplace. These coupled with nepotism, ready to climb up the corporate ladder but being held back because of competition, lack of incentive and longer work hours all seem to be common causes of workplace stress.

We all have been at that job where we had a boss we were terrified of making a mistake in front of or wanted 25 hours of work in a 24-hour day (sleep was for the weak). The one who wanted you to put in all your waking hours on the job and still withheld that promotion because they “did not feel you were up to the task.” Those bosses are now responsible for half of the psychologists’ clients all around the globe.

Some of the common workplace stressors are increased responsibility, higher production demands, fewer benefits, pay cuts, layoffs, etc. Even bosses and senior management face workplace stress because they need to keep productivity levels high in order to keep the company running successfully and meet certain demands. They face hard tasks such as laying off employees that may have been with the organization for years, making cuts (budget and salary) and doing what is best for the company even at the cost of being called a tyrant. Some common workplace causes are:

• Overload of tasks – Heavy workload, infrequent breaks, long work hours and shift work. Hectic and routine tasks with little inherent meaning, lack of skills required, and little sense of control

• Management style – Lack of participation by workers in decision-making, poor communication within the organization and lack of family-friendly policies.

• Interpersonal relationships – Poor social environment and lack of support or help from coworkers and supervisors

• Work roles – Conflicting or uncertain job expectations, too much responsibility and too many “hats to wear”

• Career concerns – Job insecurity and lack of opportunity for growth, advancement, or promotion and rapid changes for which workers are unprepared

• Environmental concerns – Unpleasant or dangerous physical conditions such as crowding, noise, air pollution, or ergonomic conditions*

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the causes of stress mentioned above, don’t worry there are solutions to these causes. Below are some of the solutions we think could help you adapt and get a better outlook. Something for supervisors and company management to keep in mind to help reduce workplace stress are:

• Recognition of employees for good work performance

• Opportunities for career development

• An organizational culture that values the individual worker

• Learning to give them free time for personal life, as they might have families that require them too.

Some things you could try to alleviate your own stresses are:

• Prioritize – you are allowed to step back and evaluate your life, to say no to additional work, to say no if you will be missing your anniversary dinner (but you need to understand when to exercise this option)

• Talk to someone – Talk to a friend, family member or a counselor/ psychologist when you need some guidance or just want someone to vent to when you see yourself burning out (common signs include being irritated, frustrated, feeling depressed, withdrawn from friends and family)

• Exercise – this helps clear the mind and gives you the necessary focus to get through your day (healthy body = healthy mind)

• Get a regular sleep schedule – Whether you work the night shift or regular day hours it is crucial to allocate time for your body to rest (as difficult as this sounds, less sleep causes more health problems in the long run)

These are just some of many solutions to help reduce workplace stress. Find what works best for you and apply it. You are only human after all.

* Helpful list by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

This article was written by volunteer blogger Riya Prem Raaj and edited by volunteer editor Erin Murphy.

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Founder's Blog

Why you should forget everything you learned about medical appointments!

I was thinking in the shower today about medical appointments. I have previously written on this topic.

Many, or most, hospitals in Toronto now offer diagnostic tests 24/7 by appointment. My own father has had several at Princess Margaret Hospital to follow cancer treatment he had a few years ago. These include CT scans, MRI, x-rays, etc.

Nurses, as you well know, work eight or twelve-hour shifts. So why can’t doctors?

Let’s say we have two oncologists. Why can’t Oncologist A work days Weeks 1 and 3, and nights Weeks 2 and 4. With Oncologist B working days Weeks 2 and 4, and nights weeks 1 and 3. And when I say nights, I mean 8 pm to 3 am to accommodate those who work evenings and nights.

The funny thig is, I’m certain you won’t have a problem finding people who want this!

So why aren’t we doing it already? So many professionals work shift work. Emergency Department doctors work shift work. So why can’t the doctors who run our oncology clinics, or renal clinics work shift work?

I think we need to have a conversation on how our healthcare providers work with our professors/school, employers, landlords, etc. Everyone probably tells you that “your health comes first.” That’s total BS. Without money to pay the rent, and purchase groceries, the treatment means nothing.

It’s time we put patients first. It’s time for us to stand up and ask for better services.

Case in point – Here in Barrie we didn’t have in-centre dialysis. That meant if you were admitted to the hospital, you had to be transported to another hospital for dialysis. Almost 2 years ago I started writing letters to the CEO of the local hospital, and this past April I cut the ribbon for the new dialysis unit.

So let’s have the conversation and improve patient health by offering clinical appointments 24/7.

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Voices of our Nation

Workplace Wellness Programs Need a Big Dose of the Right Stuff

Workplace wellness is any workplace health promotional activity or organizational policy designed to support healthy behavior in the workplace. Employee wellness programs is an attractive benefit for potential employees and major perks for existing employees. Before instituting a wellness program, workplaces should carefully weigh the costs and benefits to determine if initiating a wellness program will serve the needs of the workplace.

Chronic diseases such as depression and hypertension can have a variety of negative impacts on an employee; decline in the overall health, an increase in health-related expenses, lower productivity, as well as days of work missed. Some workplaces have realized the benefits of health promotion, and to curb the costs of rising health care, employers offer workplace health programs to their employees. Ideally, the office should be a place protecting the safety and well-being of employees while providing them with opportunities for better long-term health.

Employee wellness programs can boost office morale and strengthen employee relationships. Whether a workplace institutes a weight loss challenge, a runners group or an on-site gym, the workplace can bring employees together who have a shared interest. Changing how employees interact and support one another can translate to a more supportive and a positive work environment overall.

The cost of employee wellness programs is something that every employer must weigh. Obviously building a gym or bringing in a nutritionist will cost money. Some workplaces may not have the sufficient resources available to implement wellness programs. Workplace wellness programs also include policies intended to facilitate employee health, including allowing time for exercise, providing on-site kitchens and eating areas, offering healthful food options in vending machines, holding “walk and talk” meetings, and offering financial and other incentives for participation. Effective workplace programs, policies, and environments that are health-focused and worker-centered have the potential to significantly benefit employers, employees, their families, and communities.

However, a workplace wellness programs may inadvertently discourage employees from participating in the company’s health benefits. The health within the workplace is made up of numerous factors and some are out of a person’s control. Some employees can be genetically predisposed to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and even diabetes, and it is important to take these factors into consideration when developing an effective wellness program for a workplace. For some employees, the idea of required participation in a wellness program is intimidating. If an employee doesn’t reach the workplace’s goal and money is involved, it can potentially add stress within the workplace.

While it remains unclear how well workplace wellness programs are doing at achieving all of their original goals, one thing that is clear is that there are benefits to both the employee and the employer. Wellness programs have led to higher productivity, lower absenteeism with a greater job satisfaction and commitment by employees. By covering the cost of a wellness program, or even just covering a portion of the cost, employers have the ability to take the cost burden of the most efficient programs off of their employees’ shoulders. Investing in clinically-proven wellness programs fosters healthier, more productive, and happier employees. Making wellness a priority by providing incentives can attract the best employees to your workplace. It shows that a workplace will care about the well-being of your employees which will make the top employee prospects want to work for you. Between health benefits, financial incentives, and possibly even improved job satisfaction, workplace wellness programs may be worth implementing in the workplace.

This article was contributed by volunteer blogger Shan Simpson and edited by volunteer editor Parul Datta.

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Voices of our Nation

Workplace wellness

Workplace wellness is any workplace health, promotion, activity or organizational policy designed to support healthy behavior and improve health outcomes. Employee wellness programs are attractive for potential employees and major perks for existing employees. Before incorporating a workplace wellness program, employers should carefully weigh the pros and cons of each program.

Chronic diseases such as depression and hypertension can lead to a decline in the overall health of employees in a workplace, contribute to an increase in health-related expenses for employers and employees, and lead to lower productivity and/or days of work missed. Some workplaces have realized the benefits of health promotion, and to curb the costs of rising health care, offer workplace health benefits to their employees. Ideally, the office should be a place protecting the safety and well-being of employees while providing opportunities for better long-term health.

Employee wellness programs can boost office morale and strengthen employee relationships. Whether a workplace institutes a weight loss challenge, a runners group or an on-site gym, a workplace is bringing employees together in interest groups with likeminded colleagues. Changing how employees interact and support one another can translate to a more supportive and positive work environment. A healthy work environment in turn positively affects productivity.

The cost of employee wellness programs is something that every employer must consider. Building a gym or bringing in a nutritionist will cost money and some workplaces may not have the sufficient resources available to implement wellness programs. Some of the wellness employees a workplace brings in can be paid a salary like other employees, but facilities will generally need upfront cash in order to begin building.

Workplace wellness programs also include policies intended to facilitate employee health, including allowing time for exercise, providing on-site kitchens and eating areas, offering healthful food options in vending machines, holding “walk and talk” meetings, and offering financial and other incentives for participation. Effective workplace programs, policies, and environments that are health-focused and worker-centered have the potential to significantly benefit employers, employees, their families, and communities.

However, workplace wellness programs may inadvertently discourage employees from participating in the company’s health benefits. The health within the workplace is made up of numerous factors and some are out of a person’s control. Some employees can be genetically predisposed to high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes, and it is important to take these factors into consideration when developing an effective wellness program for a workplace. For some employees, the idea of required participation in a wellness program is intimidating. If an employee doesn’t reach the workplace’s goal and money is involved, it can potentially add stress within the workplace. Participation then becomes unaffordable and an employee may seek health benefits elsewhere.

While it remains unclear how well workplace wellness programs are doing at achieving all of their original goals, one thing that is clear is that there are benefits to both the employee and the employer. Wellness programs have led to higher productivity, lower absenteeism and greater job satisfaction. Investing in clinically-proven wellness programs fosters healthier, more productive, and happier employees. Making wellness a priority by providing incentives shows that a workplace cares about the well-being of employees which will make the top employee prospects want to work for you. Between health benefits, financial incentives, and possibly even improved job satisfaction, workplace wellness programs may be worth implementing in the workplace.

This article was contributed by volunteer blogger Shan Simpson, and edited by volunteer editor Parul Datta.