Stress-related illnesses caused by the workplace to be researched

Long Lunch 25/05/2018
Photo: Unsplash.

New research is underway to investigate the relationship between stress-related illnesses and various work environments.

Professor Tim Bentley from Massey University told Wendyl Nissen that there is no national data on such relationship. The research will be able to help guide policy and information provided to organisations at a national level.

Prof Bentley expects the research to dive into common workplace stressors such as bullying, sexual harassment, work-life balance and how those stressors are related to employees’ stress-related illnesses.

He suggests that the research will benefit businesses by showing them what workplace stress actually costs them with decreased employee engagement and performance.

“They’ll be able to see how [workplace stress] affects their bottom line,” he told RadioLIVE.

The researchers will begin by analysing physical health of their subjects, which will include depression and psychological distress.

The data is expected to help inform businesses and the Government of the types of workplaces that cause long-term illnesses related to stress, which will ideally reduce the impact of such environments.

“It’s quite hard often to get a fix on how your organisation is performing just looking at your own data.”

Safe Work Australia conducted similar research in previous years and found that around 90% of workers’ compensation claims involving a mental disorder were linked to work-related stress or mental stress.

The most common triggers of stress were related to work pressure, harassment or bulling, and exposure to workplace or occupational violence.

Prof Bentley believes the nature of work has changed recently, particularly with the quick introduction of new technologies.

“The boundaries between work and home have become very blurred,” Prof Bentley said.

While workplaces continually have improved making their environments physically safe, research will soon tell whether they’re working on safety for mental health. 

Listen to the full interview with Tim Bentley above. 

The Long Lunch with Wendyl Nissen, 12pm - 3pm on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.