Sick Of Work? What’s the #1 Work-Related Cause of Illness?

The effect of occupational stress on physical symptoms

The effect of occupational stress on physical symptoms

This study details the primary ways work can actually make you physically sick. Not that you’re ‘sick’ of work in the sense that you’re done slaving away for the man but causing demonstrable medical conditions. It also specifies the different types of work-related cause and their different associated afflictions. AND it shows which causes are worse.

Oddly, ‘overwork’ was only number four on the list. People will moan about being overworked but if those same people were super busy doing something they loved, then the load wouldn’t necessarily by itself drive them to illness. The number one driver of occupationally caused maladies was ‘organisational constraints’ – things that are beyond your control that get in your way of achieving anything. As a leader in a workplace, or anywhere else for that matter, anything you can reasonably and effectively do to lessen that can only be a good thing for your people.

My recurring theme in this blog is that we cannot genuinely motivate others meaningfully in the long-term. The best that we can do is to create an environment and provide support and remove obstacles so that people have conditions conducive to self-motivation. You’ve got a lot of things to do so it helps to prioritise. Now, knowing that a major cause of creating an environment that isn’t conducive to self-motivation (ie one that makes people sick!), means that is an area you should focus on. What can you do to prevent or minimise the organisational constraints facing you and your team?

I have no study to back this up but in the hazy and often constructed recesses of my memory, I seem to vaguely recall that the number one stressing job is bus driver. You’d think fighter pilot or paramedic or firefighter or bomb disposal technician but it isn’t. And why not? Because it’s the extent to which people perceive they have little control and influence over their work and their future that drives the problems. Fighter pilots, paramedics, firefighters and bomb disposal technicians all have a lot of discretion and input into their roles, regardless, or perhaps because, of the risk and the responsibility. Bus drivers do not. They don’t set their prices, the routes, the schedule, the stops, the shelters, the traffic, the bus maintenance, the policies and so on. They have a steering wheel, accelerator, brake pedal and some degree of customer service orientation. I wonder what their health records are?

So, along with garlic, vitamin C and flu shots, be sure to provide your people with another immunity tool – some autonomy. (Not too much though obviously. Same goes for vitamin C and garlic. That just gets messy…)

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Posted on October 25, 2011, in Employee Engagement, Health And Wellness, Motivating Employees, Motivation, Workplace Of Choice and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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