New Delhi, October 17: Here is the warning bell ringing aloud for those working professionals in the highly demanding jobs with a pressure to meet the targets continuously pushing for running around. Job stress can actually kill you. Very much like depression, stress is also emerging as a silent killer, increasingly assuming dangerous proportion worldwide as the modern day life’s professional hazards and ambitions of achieving fast success in careers take their toll.
A recent study has found that jobs with high stress can even cause early or premature death. People in such jobs more often do not have control over the workflow but the performance related demands and the work pressures keep going up , suddenly exploding someday in the form of a fatal brain stroke or a cardiac arrest.
World over, people working in armed forces, paramilitary, police departments, airlines pilots, public relation and sales- marketing executives, information technology , journalists, firemen, taxi drivers are considered among the most stressed professionals.
The job-related stress manifests in fits of anger, more eating, less sleeping, smoking and consuming alcohol or other substance abuse that eventually damages the immune system.
High-stress levels can bring on weight gain, rapid wrinkling, hair loss, tooth and gum diseases, skin problems and puffy eyes.
According to this study, people in high-demand jobs with low control were heavier than those in high-demand jobs with high control.
However, as a positive side, achievers find it as a catalyst. The more the stress, the more the desire to perform and the better the task management.
The research paper based on the study will be appearing in the reputed journal Personnel Psychology.
It revealed that 26 per cent of deaths occurred in people in frontline service jobs, and 32 per cent of deaths occurred in people with manufacturing jobs who also reported high job demands and low control.
Erik Gonzalez-Mule, assistant professor of organisational behaviour and human resources , said in the authors’ note that drawing from the job design, stress, and epidemiology literatures, it can be argued that job demands will be positively related to mortality under conditions of low control, and negatively related to mortality under conditions of high control.
The authors of this research paper said, “We tested our hypothesis using a seven-year time-lagged design in a sample of 2,363 individuals from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study. Our results supported our hypothesis, with results showing that for individuals in low control jobs, high job demands are associated with a 15.4% increase in the odds of death compared to low job demands. “
“For those in high control jobs, high job demands are associated with a 34% decrease in the odds of death compared to low job demands. Supplementary analyses revealed a similar pattern predicting body mass index in the group of surviving individuals. We discuss the implications of these findings for theory and practice, while proposing several avenues for future research.”
"We explored job demands, or the amount of work, time pressure and concentration demands of a job, and job control, or the amount of discretion one has over making decisions at work, as joint predictors of death," explained Erik Gonzalez-Mule.
The findings suggest that stressful jobs have clear negative consequences for employee health when paired with low freedom in decision-making, while stressful jobs can actually be beneficial to employee health if also paired with freedom in decision-making.
Gonzalez-Mule said the results do not suggest that employers necessarily need to cut back on what is expected from employees.
Rather, they demonstrate the value in restructuring some jobs to provide employees with more say about how the work gets done.
"You can avoid the negative health consequences if you allow them to set their own goals, set their own schedules, prioritise their decision-making and the like," he said.
The firms should allow "employees to have a voice in the goal-setting process, so when you're telling someone what they're going to do ... it's more of a two-way conversation."
"What we found is that those people that are in entry-level service jobs and construction jobs have pretty high death rates, more so than people in professional jobs and office positions," the authors noted.
The new study highlights the benefits of job crafting, a relatively new process that enables employees to mould and redesign their job to make it more meaningful.