A recent study has revealed there's unlikely to be a link between workplace stress and four of the most common forms of cancer, but this doesn't mean businesses can afford to forget their responsibilities to employees, according to management training provider MLR Business Consultants Ltd.
A review of previous research, recently published by the British Medical Journal, says breast, prostate, colorectal and lung cancers are highly unlikely to be triggered by stress in the workplace. The research looked at 12 trials across six countries between 1985 and 2008 and showed no increase in cancer among people who are highly stressed by their work. But Michelle Renhard, Managing Director of MLR Business Consultants Ltd, explained: “Whilst these findings may be reassuring to some, the study does not mean organisations can ignore the dangers of stress. Skilled and professional managers are key to maintaining a healthy working environment.
“Figures from the Health and Safety Executive show that 10 million working days were lost last year in the UK owing to work-related stress and there's plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that sufferers are more susceptible to other common conditions such as headaches, stomach complaints and colds. Therefore, the number of days lost as a result of stress could be much higher than the figures imply, which has an obvious economic and human cost.”
Michelle went on to say that, even more concerning was the fact that many of the causes of stress are easily avoidable through effective management. Poor change or time management, ineffective delegation, lack of coaching and development opportunities, badly applied performance management and discipline procedures, all increase workplace stress. Whereas effective management will increase peoples' motivation, self-esteem and their sense of personal value at work. “It's important for managers to have a good understanding of the repercussions of stress and how to help people avoid feeling pressured. Although it's down to the individual to take responsibility for their well-being, managers do need to manage effectively and professionally so that unnecessary stress does not become part of the workplace culture,” Michelle added.