Older workers have lower levels of work related stress

November 20th, 2007 - 6:18 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Nov 20 (ANI): A new study has found that older workers usually have a lower level of work related stress, than their younger colleagues.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan on a nationally selected number of older workers, found that by the year 2010, middle-aged and older workers will outnumber their younger colleagues, causing a concern for their physical and emotional well-being by the U.S. employers.

ISR researcher Gwenith Fisher, Quinnipiac University researcher Carrie Bulger and colleagues examined the dominance of different kinds of job stressors, which had been reported by the participants between the ages of 53 and 85, and used it as an analysis.

The participants chosen worked for at least 20 hours per week, and their life satisfaction and physical health were examined to see how they were related with these stressors.

More than half of the participants were male, 87 percent were Caucasian, about eight percent were African American and seven percent were Hispanic, who on an average had about 14 years of education.

“In general, older workers did not report high levels of work-related stressors,” said Fisher, an organizational psychologist who is particularly interested in issues of work-life balance.

Over half strongly agreed that they have competing demands being made on them at work, while 47 percent agreed that time pressures are a source of job stress.

While only 19 percent of older workers indicated that they have poor job security.

Fisher said: “Given what we know about the extent of age discrimination at work and the current economic climate regarding unemployment, this is a surprisingly low number.”

About 15 percent reported that their work often or almost all the time interfered with their personal lives and a mere 2 percent said their personal lives interfered with their work.

“Many older workers are empty-nesters,” Fisher said.

“They don’t have the same work-personal conflicts that younger and middle-aged workers deal with, juggling responsibilities to children along with their jobs and their personal needs,” she added.

The study also pointed out that the lesser the stress at the work place the more satisfied the workers were with their lives, and that they were also in better physical health than the ones who had higher levels of stress.

For older and younger workers facing work-related stress, Fisher recommended a few basic guidelines.

Her first advice is, take good care of yourself. “Get enough sleep.”

“In the short-term, you may be able to cut corners but in the long-term, cutting back on sleep may compromise your immune system and you’ll be more likely to get sick,” she said.

Getting regular physical exercise is another added bonus, as it helps the body to be able to handle stress, increase energy level on the job and cut down strains like anxiety.

Secondly, she advises to learn active time management, by using strategies that are beneficial. Something like creating a to-do list so that we can keep track of tasks and set priorities. We also need to establish clear boundaries.

The study, presented in San Francisco at the annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America, is based on 2006 data from 1,544 participants in the U-M Health and Retirement Study, conducted by the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR) and funded by the National Institute on Aging. (ANI)

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