To assess whether physical and psychological strain caused by the work environment could predict the development of diabetes, Dr. Toker and her fellow researchers surveyed the participants according to an "expanded job strain model," which takes into account measures of social support, perceived workload, and perceived control over work pace and objectives.
After the initial interview and examination, the health of all participants was followed for a period of 41 months, over which time 182 participants developed diabetes, reports Dr. Toker. When these results were analyzed in relation to reported work conditions, social support emerged as a strong protective factor against the development of the disease, with supported individuals significantly less at risk for diabetes than their unsupported peers. Workload was also correlated with disease development, with employees who felt either overworked or underworked being at increased risk.
Promoting the right balance
The results highlight some of the negative effects of our changing work environment, in which employees are putting in more hours than ever before, says Dr. Toker. Beyond the hours spend in the office, technology now allows us to be constantly connected, heightening expectations that work will be completed in non-working hours, ultimately increasing workloads. This takes a heavy toll on our health, she warns.
One of the most interesting findings of the study that a too-small workload is as harmful as a too-large workload shows that dramatically reducing the load of a busy employee may not have the desired effect. Employees will be stressed when overloaded, but they still need to feel challenged to be satisfied in their jobs, notes Dr. Toker.
She suggests that employe
|Contact: George Hunka|
American Friends of Tel Aviv University