Health problems associated with job-related anxiety account for more deaths each year than Alzheimer's disease or diabetes. America’s workers are both overworked and overwhelmed.
A 2015 working paper from Harvard and Stanford Business Schools takes a look at 10 common job stressors: from lack of health insurance, to long working hours, to job insecurity. Researchers then considered how the mental and physical effects of these forms of stress related to mortality. The paper found that health problems stemming from job stress, like hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and decreased mental health, can lead to fatal conditions that wind up killing about 120,000 people each year—making work-related stressors and the maladies they cause, more deadly than diabetes, Alzheimer’s, or influenza. Researchers found that stress-related health problems could be responsible for between 5 to 8 percent of annual healthcare costs in the U.S. That amounts to about $180 billion each year in healthcare expenses.
Lack of health insurance, for instance, has a particularly grim effect on health. It results in financial stress, causing delayed treatment for potentially serious medical issues—which can certainly contribute to mortality.
Employees at downsizing firms have been found to get sick at a rate more than two-times as high as workers who feel secure in their jobs. The stress that comes from the combination of low job control and high demands has also been found to contribute to issues like cardiovascular disease. Conflicting priorities between work and home have a negative affect on mental health, and have been linked to some substance-abuse issues, according to the study.
“Decisions about work hours and shift work have profound health consequences, possibly through their effects on work stress, sleep, and the conflict between work and other roles,” according to the researchers. Those who worked long hours self-reported more cases of hypertension, for instance. There have also been correlations between occupational injuries and working longer hours during the preceding week. In fact, a 2005 study noted that those who reported high levels of feeling overworked were 20 percent more likely to say that they had made lots of mistakes on the job, which could be especially problematic for those with physically demanding or dangerous positions. Shift work and long work hours were also associated with worse health generally, and bad health decisions—like smoking. Those who think that their workplace deals with employees unfairly are more prone to reporting poor health.
“We do not claim that an ideal stress-free workplace is realistically or economically achievable,” write co-authors Joel Goh, Jeffrey Pfeffer, and Stefano A. Zenios.
Well, the Socialist Party does make that claim !!