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PRODUCTIVITY

The Surprising Source of Your Employees' Stress

New research suggests that employees are actually less stressed at work than they are at home.
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While you're probably used to hearing friends and even your own employees vent about the stresses of work, it's possible that there's a much larger issue weighing on them--one that it originates outside of the office. 

In a recent small study, Sarah Damaske, an assistant professor of labor and employment relations at Penn State University, found that many employees are in fact more stressed at home than they are at work. In many cases, they even view the office as a haven from outside stressors such as health problems, personal tragedies and family responsibilities.   

According to NPR, Sarah Damaske studied the stress levels of 122 working men and women. The participants were asked to collect their own saliva samples throughout their day. Then Damaske tested the samples to determine their levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.

The study found that employees' cortisol levels were significantly lower when they were at work than at home. The results suggest that, at least biologically speaking, people are less stressed at work, Damaske said. She offered her theory as to why this is. 

"No matter how urgent something is at work, you are not as attached to that urgency as you would be to, say, a health scare or the death of a loved one, because we are emotionally entangled at home in a way that we aren't at work," Damaske told NPR. "You still know that you can quit, you can look for something else, that you can leave--leave your boss and your bad day behind." 

The results build on Damaske's earlier research regarding women's health and work. In a study involving more than 2,500 mothers, Damaske found that moms who worked full-time were in much better physical and mental health than both mothers who worked part-time and mothers who didn't work at all. The latest study results suggest that steady jobs are at least partly responsible for the wellbeing of these working women.

 

Last updated: Jul 16, 2014

LAURA MONTINI | Staff Writer

Laura Montini is a reporter at Inc. She previously covered health care technology for Health 2.0 News and has served as an associate editor at The Health Care Blog. She lives in San Francisco.




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