Exercising to Reduce Stress May Not Increase Productivity

Stressed-Out Employees May Work Out Instead of Working

Newswise — PHILADELPHIA, PA — Employees who exercise to manage high job stress may actually have reduced levels of work productivity, suggests a study in the October Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM).

Led by Jeffrey J. VanWormer, PhD, of Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, Marshfield, Wis., the researchers analyzed the relationship between stress levels, physical activity, and productivity in a sample of 2,823 Minnesota workers. In general, higher stress levels were linked to greater productivity loss. Workers with higher body mass index were less productive, regardless of other factors.

After adjustment for body mass index, there was a significant interaction between physical activity and stress level. For highly stressed workers, a high level of physical activity was linked to significant productivity loss. In contrast, for workers with relatively low stress levels, physical activity had less effect on productivity.

For example, for overweight employees who exercised seven hours per week, estimated productivity loss was eleven percent for workers who were highly stressed, compared to two percent for those with lower stress levels.

Worksite wellness programs that improve employee health generally lead to increased productivity. The study provides new insights into how stress affects productivity, particularly in combination with exercise and other lifestyle factors.

The results suggest that, when stress levels are high, increased physical activity is linked to decreased productivity. The researchers write, “This may indicate that some individuals essentially cope with high levels of stress by exercising more and working less.” Stress management is “at least as economically relevant” to promoting worker health and productivity, compared to more traditional lifestyle factors, Dr. VanWormer and colleagues add. They call for more research to identify the best approaches to reducing stress in the workplace.

Released: 10/4/2011

Source: Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

Via Newswise

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Work Place News…..So You Think Your Boss Is a Psychopath?

Wake Forest University professors offer survival tips

Newswise — Winston-Salem, N.C. – If you heard about a recent study claiming one in 25 executive leaders meet the criteria for a psychopathic personality and thought: “That sounds like MY boss,” you might be wondering what to do about it Evelyn William, associate vice president of leadership development/professor of practice at Wake Forest University Schools of Business says knowing your boss’s work style could be the key to succeeding. Jamie Dickey Ungerleider, Ph.D, associate professor of Family & Community Medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center says that might help you in the short term, but a longer term solution is to find a new boss.

“Leaders who are psychopaths are extremely charming, highly manipulative, see other people as objects and don’t feel guilty about using people to reach their own ends,” Dr. Ungerleider says. “Most people at work have good intentions, but a psychopathic boss does not.”

Ungerleider says that evaluations and reviews won’t usually reveal the problems a psychopathic boss has. “There’s usually a segment of the population who finds them utterly charming and don’t understand why others wouldn’t trust them.”

But if you can’t make a move away from such an employer, “Recognize that you still have a mutually dependent relationship,” Williams says. “Knowing your boss’s work style gives you a road map you can use to make adjustments and deliver the work that will please a difficult boss.”

Williams says you should ask yourself these questions to determine your best working road map:

● How does my boss like to communicate?
● Does my boss focus on details or big picture thinking?
● Which is more important to my boss: analysis and data or human relationships?
● Does my boss use introverted or extroverted discussion patterns?
● When it comes to decisions, does my boss like quick resolution or decision by committee?

“Knowing the answers to these questions allows you to take control of your working relationship and do a good job of managing up,” says Williams. “You won’t feel like the victim and will have control of how to manage the relationship since there are multiple ways to accomplish these tasks.”

But Dr. Ungerleider, says too much success at work could also been seen as a threat to a psychopathic boss. “These people use the skills and talents of people under them to shine for their own managers,” Dr. Ungerleider says. “If you shine a little too brightly while you’re helping them stand out, that becomes a threat. Most of them won’t hesitate to throw you under the bus.”

Both agree on seeking validation from your co-workers in and outside your department. Dr. Ungerleider says you need to know that others have the same concerns.

“Network outside your department and make sure you document what’s happening in yours. That doesn’t mean a vindictive accounting, but rather keeping track of decisions made or assignments given so that you and your boss can agree on your work both in terms of load and delivery,” Williams said. “We’re all fallible humans and need to manage our stress loads — some people may appear like psychopaths simply because they are overwhelmed in their current roles.”

Dr. Ungerleider also says not every bad boss is a psychopath. “Sometimes people put a boss in that category because they’re being treated badly, but those are bad actions or bad decisions, not a personality disorder.”

Released: 9/22/2011  Source: Wake Forest University

Via Newswise

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Time Off Work for Exercise Linked to Increased Productivity

In Study, Employees Get More Done Despite Reduced Work Hours

Newswise — PHILADELPHIA, PA — Taking time out of the work week for an employee exercise program may lead to increased productivity—despite the reduction in work hours, reports a study in the August Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM).

In the study, one group of employees at a large Swedish public dental health organization was assigned to a mandatory exercise program carried out during regular work hours: 2½ hours per week. Another group received the same reduction in work hours, but no exercise program. (A third group worked regular hours with no exercise program.) The researchers were Ulrica von Thiele Schwarz, Ph.D., and Henna Hasson, Ph.D., of Karolinska Institute, Stockholm.

Employees assigned to the exercise program also had significant increases in self-rated measures of productivity: they felt more productive while on the job and had a reduced rate of work absences due to illness.

The results suggest that reducing work hours for exercise or other health promotion doesn’t necessarily lead to decreased productivity—and may even lead to increased productivity. The productivity gains seem to result from higher output during work hours and fewer missed work day. Drs. von Thiele Schwarz and Hasson conclude, “Work hours may be used for health promotion activities with sustained or improved production levels, since the same, or higher, production level can be achieved with lesser resources.”

ACOEM (www.acoem.org), an international society of 5,000 occupational physicians and other health care professionals, provides leadership to promote optimal health and safety of workers, workplaces, and environments.

About Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (www.joem.org) is the official journal of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Edited to serve as a guide for physicians, nurses, and researchers, the clinically oriented research articles are an excellent source for new ideas, concepts, techniques, and procedures that can be readily applied in the industrial or commercial employment setting.

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