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Hang out at the water cooler, live longer
Date:8/4/2011

s that the perception of emotional support was the strongest indicator of future health.

During the course of the study, says Dr. Toker, 53 participants died, most of whom had negligible social connections with their co-workers. A lack of emotional support at work led to a 140% increased risk of dying in the next twenty years compared to those who reported supportive co-workers, she concluded.

While building a supportive environment for employees may seem intuitive, Dr. Toker says that many workplaces have lost their way. Despite open concept offices, many people use email rather than face-to-face communication, and social networking sites that may provide significant social connection are often blocked.

How to make an office friendlier to your health? Dr. Toker suggests coffee corners where people can congregate to sit and talk; informal social outings for staff members; an internal virtual social network similar to Facebook; or a peer-assistance program where employees can confidentially discuss stresses and personal problems that may affect their position at work anything that encourages employees to feel emotionally supported, she says.

Power burdens women, frees men

The study also addressed "control issues" in the workplace, Dr. Toker says. Study participants were asked if they were able to take initiative at work and if they had the freedom to make their own decisions on how tasks should be accomplished. Results indicate that while men flourished when afforded more control over their daily work tasks, women with the same control had a shorter lifespan.. Those women who reported that they had significant control over their tasks and workflow had a 70 percent increased risk of dying over the 20-year period.

In one sense, explains Dr. Toker, power at work is a good thing. "But there is a lot of responsibility on your shoulders," she adds. "If you have to make important decisions with no guidance, it can be s
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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert  

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