Benefits and Compensation, HR Management & Compliance

The Modern Workplace Is Killing Us—Here’s What You Need to Know (Part 1)

A just-released book called Dying for a Paycheck is getting a lot of attention in the business realm. In the book, Jeffrey Pfeffer, professor of organizational behavior at Stanford Graduate School of Business, unpacks how the modern workplace is causing leading chronic illnesses and stress and how it’s bad for economies and societies and the success of companies—and, of course, for workers.
In a recent interview, Pfeffer stated, “I see a workplace that has become shockingly inhumane,” and, “I want to wake people up. This is a serious issue that has serious consequences for corporate performance and for people’s well-being.”
Pfeffer claims that leadership and decision makers in the workplace need to begin measuring and regulating workplace health like they’ve done with OSHA and workplace safety and that they need to better monitor employees’ workloads and prevent workplace health issues before and not after the fact.1 Continue reading to learn more about the toxic modern workplace and what you can do about it.

Important Stats to Consider About the Modern Workplace

  • Employers spend about $300 billion each year on stress-related health care and missed work.
  • Seventy-seven percent of people regularly feel physical symptoms caused by stress, while 73% feel psychological symptoms.
  • Fifty-four percent of people said stress has caused them to fight with people close to them.
  • Eighty-seven percent of workers are emotionally disconnected from their workplaces and likely to be about 10% less productive, while 60% of workers are so unhappy at work that they want to find a new career.

(Source: OfficeVibe)
And, according to an Anxiety and Depression Association of America survey, workers say stress and anxiety most often impact their:

  • Workplace performance (56%)
  • Relationship with coworkers and peers (51%)
  • Quality of work (50%)
  • Relationships with superiors (43%)

And the main culprits of work-related stress are:

  • Deadlines (55%)
  • Interpersonal relationships (53%)
  • Staff management (50%)
  • Dealing with issues or problems that arise (49%)

What Causes Our Toxic Modern Workplace

How did the modern workplace get so toxic? How did it get to the point that the mismanagement of workforces causes more than 120,000 deaths a year and accounts for 5%–8% of annual healthcare costs?1

  • Large layoffs
  • Economic insecurity and insufficient pay
  • Extremely large workloads and longer hours
  • Employees’ lack of autonomy at work
  • Rising costs in health care and medications
  • Inadequate or entire lack of employer-sponsored healthcare programs
  • Negative workplace environments and relationships

While employers contribute largely to the toxic modern workplace, so do the workers themselves. And it is becoming a part of what Pfeffer likes to dub “social pollution.”
Luckily, employers and employees can be a part of the solution to ridding the modern workplace of toxins.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post to learn about some potential solutions to the toxic modern workplace.

  1. Toxic Workplaces Are the 5th Leading Cause of Death According to New Stanford Research. Accessed 3/23/2018.

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