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Is job insecurity taking a toll on your health?

The unfortunate reality for many workers here in Colorado and across the U.S. is that there will more than likely come a time when they are feeling less than confident about the security of their position. Indeed, anything from a slow quarter or a loss of customers to a merger or rising operational costs can cause both white- and blue-collar workers to wonder whether it's time to start searching the want-ads.

While there is no question that this job insecurity can be stressful, questions arise as to just how detrimental this stress can be to a person's long-term health. As it turns out, researchers at Ball State University recently examined this very issue -- and the results were less than encouraging.

As part of the study, published in the Journal of Community Health, the researchers analyzed data gathered from 17,441 people as part of the National Health Interview Survey, an annual endeavor in which health-related data is secured via in-home interviews conducted by federal officials.

Specifically, the researchers focused on the roughly 33 percent of survey respondents who reported experiencing job insecurity over the preceding 12 months. Here, they made the following discoveries:

  • Men were 14 percent more likely to report job insecurity
  • Those experiencing job insecurity were less likely to engage in physical activity and have longer sleep durations, and more likely to be overweight and smoke
  • Men experiencing job insecurity were more likely to suffer from ulcers, hypertension and chest pains, and miss two-plus weeks of work
  • Women experiencing job insecurity were more likely to suffer from asthma, diabetes, pain disorders (neck pain, migraines, etc.), and worsening general health  

Given this reality and the impact it can have on everything from healthcare costs to productivity, the researchers encouraged employers to consider implementing simple measures designed to help alleviate this stress, including:

  • Improving communication between workers and management
  • Recognizing employee accomplishments
  • Providing workers with a greater role in company decisions affecting their jobs
  • Enhancing quality of life via things like job sharing, flex time, remote work programs and child care

It's important to remember that if you've been diagnosed with a work-related disease or disorder, you may be able to secure workers' compensation benefits. To learn more, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional.

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