RIDA logoThe path to personal strength...

~ Articles

Stress Payouts Swell to $1.2b

By Geesche Jacobsen
The Age, 5/04/1999

Workplace stress is damaging the health of employees and costing the nation as much as $1.2 billion a year, a leading health professional has warned.

Dr Rob Moodie, the chief executive of VicHealth, said work stress was already widespread and becoming worse as companies folded or axed staff.

Employers would benefit from looking after their workers’ health because there would be higher levels of productivity, Dr Moodie said in an article in the Medical Journal of Australia.

“It’s not just for altruism. There’s a bottom-line issue in there as well,” he said.

A Japanese study had shown that people who worked more than 11 hours a day had more than twice the rate of heart attacks as those who worked for seven to nine hours a day, Dr Moodie wrote in today’s issue of the journal.

Social support in the workplace, such as “opportunities to chat with workmates” was important in coping with stress, he said.

While individual stress-management methods, such as relaxation training, were useful in the short term, the issues need to be addressed through structural change, rather than individual behavioural change, Dr Moodie said.

He said companies should examine the way they were organized and talk to their staff to combat low morale, absenteeism and diminished creativity.

“The competitive environment will mean that companies cut costs, but it’s how they cut that’s important,” he said.

Stress had direct damaging effects on workers, including anger and substance abuse, but could also be detrimental to loved ones, Dr Moodie warned.

The top five causes of stress, according to an ACTU survey, were a lack of communication, an increased workload, job insecurity, organization change and poor work organization.

Workers’ compensation payouts related to stress had risen sharply recently, exceeding $200 million a year, he said.

“Total monetary costs to the nation are estimated at three to six times this figure, in addition to the human dimensions of suffering.”

However, Dr Moodie said some companies had started to recognize the importance of workplace health.

More articles:  1 . 2 . 3 . 4 . 5 . 6 . 7 . 8 . 9 . 10 . 11 . 12 . 13