The effect work related stress has on your heart and profitability

Workplace related stress rivals diabetes and drinking as a heart disease risk factor. 

It may surprise you to learn that work-related stress rivals diabetes and drinking as a heart disease risk factor.

A recent survey examined more than 79,000 laborers, both men, and women between the ages of 19 and 65 – none with a prior history of heart disease.  Researchers followed up with the subjects 12 years later and found that 3,229 of them were diagnosed and or hospitalized due to heart attacks or strokes.  Workers that were the victims of threatening, humiliating, or intimidating behavior, work interference, sabotage or verbal abuse were found to be 59% more likely to develop cardiovascular problems than those that were not.

“The effect of bullying and violence on the incidence of cardiovascular disease in the general population is comparable to other risk factors such as diabetes and alcohol drinking,” said public health researcher Tianwei Xu

What is workplace bullying exactly?

The workplace bullying institute defines it as a set of repetitive acts that attempt to induce discomfort through humiliation, intimidation, involves others,  and or prioritizes personal agenda over legitimate business interest. Paul Pelletier, the author of The Workplace Bullying Handbook, believes it is in the best interest of every employer to make sure aggressive targeted behavior doesn’t run rampant in their firm. The adverse effects of workplace tension extend beyond the health concerns of the individuals –  it also negatively impacts productivity, and employee engagement. Sheldon Kennedy, the founder of the Respect Group, adds:

They [employers] need to ask the tough questions to determine if this type of behavior is happening in their organization. They need to be prepared for what they might find and be committed to taking action to address and end it.”

A panel at the National Club all agreed that ignoring workplace harassment absolutely has negative effects on profitability. The mental health commission of Canada reports that mental health woes (which can be triggered by consistent harassment) account for an estimated $20-billion dollars in employee lost.  “This isn’t just about focusing on the bad individuals … 98% of individuals want to be good, so focus on them and give them the tools to be better,” said Kennedy

It is important to establish ethics and policies to revise office culture, include respectful behavior in performance management metrics, and most importantly take all reports seriously.

CW Headley|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at cheadley@theladders.com.