Are men working themselves literally to death?
If you’re male, unfit and are working long hours regularly at the Office, then listen up, because this article is for you!
The United Kingdom suffers from the unenviable statistic of having one of the highest heart attack rates per capita in the world – with someone somewhere suffering from one every two minutes, throughout every hour of every day – that’s 275,000 heart attacks every year.
It is also a fact according to European Union Statistics, that British Workers who are in full time employment work some of the longest hours in the EU – an average of over 41 hours per week – which is 1.5 hours more than the EU average.
A study published in the medical journal ‘Heart’ shows the results of data gathered over a 30 year period for 5000 men ranging in age from 40 to 59 years old. The research was conducted by the National Research Centre for the Working Environment, in Denmark. The male volunteers were selected from fourteen different companies, and their health and fitness levels were tracked over the three decades of the study period.
Nearly three quarters of the men worked between 41 and 45 hours per week, with about a fifth working even longer hours.
During the study, there were 587 deaths caused by the effects of cardiovascular disease – hardening and narrowing of the arteries – leading to heart attacks.
However, the researchers discovered that the men who were the most unfit, and worked the longest hours had the highest risk of dying from heart disease – more than double.
However the men who had high levels of physical fitness and worked longer hours were nearly 50% LESS likely to die from heart disease. Even those volunteers that had only medium levels of fitness and worked long hours had a noticeably lower risk of suffering a fatal heart attack.
The conclusion to be emphasised from this long and comprehensive research is that doing a job of work, irrespective of the type of work causes an unavoidable increase in blood pressure. However keeping fit reduces the negative impact of the effects of working, and leads to a better quality of leisure and sleep time.
Your Boss Can Damage Your Heart Health
If you’re unhappy with your boss at work, it could be dangerous for your heart health, according to new research, aptly abbreviated WOLF, (Work, Lipids, and Fibrinogen), conducted by Swedish Scientists at Stockholm, and published in the Magazine ‘Occupational and Environmental medicine’.
Workers whose superiors have poor management skills, or who felt that their managers made their lives more difficult were more likely to go on to develop heart disease, according to the scientists’ findings. This is in comparison to staff whose bosses were more supportive and encouraging of their efforts.
Increased Blood Pressure and Stress Levels
The study adds to an increasing knowledge base that indicates that what happens to us psychologically at work can potentially wreak havoc with our heart health, and cause our blood pressure and stress hormones to rocket. Studies have shown that stress can cause our blood pressure to rise sharply, very quickly, and cause our heartbeart to race. This is compounded by the stress related release of biochemicals, including hormones, that can increase the risk of blood clots forming, and make our arteries more vulnerable to thickening and becoming brittle.
The problem is compounded when the problem boss – employee relationship lasts for an extended period of time (typically four years or more) with the same manager.
Lack of empathy and poor communication skills
The primary criticisms levelled at the poor managers included a lack of empathy with the problems experienced by their subordinates, a refusal to listen to their concerns, poor communication skills, and failure to support their staff. This was found to be responsible for a 60 percent increase in the risk of heart attack, or other life-threatening cardiac conditions. By contrast, employees who considered their managers to have good leadership capabilities were found to have a 40 percent reduction in their risk of suffering from heart health related problems.
The results of this study could influence the way in which corporations train their management staff, in order to reduce the risk of poor management skills causing health problems and heart attacks among their staff.
The research work, conducted by Anna Nyberg, from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden involved a total of over 3000 male volunteers, with an average age of 42, who took part in the heart health workplace research between 1992 and 1995. The volunteers’ health records were then tracked until 2003, and the results confirmed that the lowest risk of suffering from heart disease occurred amongst those who had reported the greatest satisfaction with their boss’s behaviour.
Boss factor trumps all other health risks !
The most amazing conclusion from this study is that the effect that an employee’s manager has on their health appeared to outweigh all other considerations, including workload and lifestyle considerations, such as smoking, lack of exercise or obesity, or high cholesterol, according to what the researchers discovered.
So, if you’re a manager and you’re reading this, and you want to contribute to the long term heart health of your people – the advice is that you need to be sincere, and care about the welfare of the employees under your charge. You should be looking at each one of them from an individual viewpoint. You should learn what motivates them, and know what their strengths and skills are. you should also attempt to keep them engaged at work.
From the employees point of view the main causes of stress from an unreasonable manager are bullying, humiliation, lack of communication, and a lack of a clear understanding of what is required of them. So if you’re an employee, and you’re manager is not communicating properly, you can take the lead and start the process yourself. If your manager is not totally unreasonable, he or she should respond favourably. If they are unwilling to cooperate, then maybe it’s time to look for a new job.