Monday, April 20, 2009

Poor ‘team spirit’ at work is depressing

Do your employees seem depressed? Are they mopey, dragging their feet and stuck in a general state of grouchiness?

On first guess, you may assume that it’s the economy to blame, but a new study is showing that may not be the case.

A lack of team spirit in the office and poor work climates could be causing employees to feel depressed, according to a new study published in the journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
"As depressive disorders are a major cause of work disability and account for a considerable proportion of the disease burden, more attention should be paid to psychosocial factors at work," lead author Dr. Marjo Sinokki of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Turku told Reuters Health via e-mail.

Through a series of tests, Sinokki was able to determine that people who work in a “poor work climate” characterized by feelings that their workplace was highly prejudiced and quarrelsome, were 61% more likely to be depressed. The same group of workers were also more susceptible to feelings of anxiety.

While there’s still more research to be done in this area, Sinokki notes that his findings provide evidence that a disagreeable work environment can cause depression.
"The U.S. work environment right now is far more tenuous and toxic than in recent history," said Josh Klapow, an associate professor of health-care organization and policy at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, who had no role in the study. "With layoffs and downsizing, the opportunities for increased stress, negativity and pressure have all greatly increased."

Because we spend most of the day at work, our work environments have a substantial effect on our overall psychological well-being, said Klapow in a recent BusinessWeek article.

With the effects our economy is having on our households and workplaces, it’s getting harder than ever for many people to cope with stress. A certain level of stress is a normal part of life, but when it starts to interfere with productivity and emotional and physical health, it’s time to find better ways to keep that stress under control

Earlier this month, published an article, titled “I’m Not Stressed – That Pencil Had It Coming!!!” that outlines a new training exercise to practice with yourself and your team to help reduce work stress. Feeling happier and less stressed at work all starts with a simple lesson in reading and writing.

  1. First you must identify the source of your stress. Without knowing where the stress is stemming from, it will be next to impossible to treat it. Write down a list of specific things that make your job stressful.
  2. Then review your list of stressors and determine at least one thing you can do do reduce or relieve each source of work stress. Identify specific, concrete and definable actions that would help alleviate each problem.
  3. Systematically start going through your list to determine what you can do to change each stressor. If it’s within your power to change it, find a way to check it off your list and get at least one stressor off your back each week.

Write, read and review your list regularly to make a positive impact on your work stress levels. Read the Training Time Library article for detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to hold your own stress-reducing training exercise.

How do you manage work stress? As a manager, how do you help your employees reduce their stress levels at work? Leave a comment and let us know.

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