Volume 92, Issue 61

Friday, January 15, 1999

intruder alert


City council in hot water again

Hustler yanked by stores because of contest

Memorial millions

Snow paralyses Toronto and area universities

Power a stress buster at work

USC/CUPE contract under negotiations


Power a stress buster at work

By Rachel Dickenson and Brandi Jardine
Gazette Writers

A recent national study on work stress and health found it isn't necessarily demanding work which causes stress, but the lack of power in making decisions on how these demands are met.

Job strain, which results from the imbalance of control in relation to high demands of the employer, is the leading cause of stress in the workplace, according to Katheryne Wilkins, co-author of the Work Stress and Health Study, commissioned by the National Population Health Survey.

The study of over 9,000 Canadian workers focused on associations between factors such as work organization, job control and worker support and health outcomes such as depression, anxiety, high blood pressure and heart disease, Wilkins said. "Some degree of control in the workplace would allow for less job strain."

Rod Martin, an associate professor in the department of psychology at Western and a director of clinical psychology, agreed with this perspective.

"A lack of control [on how demands are met] has an influence on how stressful the job will be," he said. "When one has more control, more demands can be tolerated."

Ajay Massey, a third-year nursing student and server at the Wave, said he finds a busy day with impatient customers to be a main part of the stress caused in the restaurant industry. "It's not the job itself that is stressful, it's customers who create stressful situations," Massey explained.

Third-year urban development student Sarah Hoffman, who is also an employee at the Wave, agreed with her co-worker. "People who leave without paying and those people who take their bad day out on us definitely cause stress!"

According to the survey, transit drivers also feel the heat of situations over which they have no control. London Transit Commission drivers have been confronted continuously with the pressure of meeting schedule times in treacherous weather and heavy traffic.

Cheryl Hastings, an LTC driver, said there are uncontrollable obstacles making her job harder, but she chooses not to let them affect her.

"You do have a choice. You have a choice to let it get to you or not," Hastings said. "Each driver can figure out a way to realize stress and deal with it."

The results of this latest study indicated jobs in the service industry and dealing with the public cause the most grief.

"Job strains and demands are more intense in the service industry," Wilkins said. "There also seems to be a greater lack of supervisor support in this area.

"If the employees are made to feel as though they have more control, they are less likely to feel ill health at work," she said. "A healthy worker is a more productive worker."

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Copyright The Gazette 1999