Workplace Wellness 4

Daylight is best medicine for nurses

August 4, 2014
Science Daily/Cornell University
For the health and happiness of nurses – and for the best care of hospital patients – new research suggests exposure to natural light may be the best medicine. Letting natural light into the nurses’ workstations offered improved alertness and mood restoration effects, as measured by the study. “The increase in positive sociability, as measured by the occurrence of frequent laughter, was … significant,” noted authors.

Letting natural light into the nurses’ workstations offered improved alertness and mood restoration effects. “The increase in positive sociability, as measured by the occurrence of frequent laughter, was … significant,” noted Zadeh in the paper.

Nurses work long shifts, during non-standardized hours. They work on demanding and sensitive tasks and their alertness is connected to both staff and patient safety. Past evidence indicates natural light and views have restorative effects on people both physiologically and psychologically. Maximizing access to natural daylight and providing quality lighting design in nursing areas may be an opportunity to improve safety though environmental design and enable staff to manage sleepiness, work in a better mood and stay alert, according to Zadeh.

“Nurses save lives and deal with complications every day. It can be a very intense and stressful work environment, which is why humor and a good mood are integral to the nursing profession,” Zadeh said. “As a nurse, it’s an art to keep your smile – which helps ensure an excellent connection to patients. A smart and affordable way to bring positive mood – and laughter – into the workplace, is designing the right workspace for it.”

Access to natural daylight, and a nice view to outside, should be provided for clinical workspace design, said Zadeh. In situations where natural light is not possible, she suggests optimizing electric lighting in terms of spectrum, intensity and variability to support circadian rhythms and work performance.

“The physical environment in which the caregivers work on critical tasks should be designed to support a high-performing and healthy clinical staff,” she said “ improving the physiological and psychological wellbeing of healthcare staff, by designing the right workspace, can directly benefit the organization’s outcomes”.
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140804122857.htm

Work-related stress a risk factor for type 2 diabetes

August 8, 2014
Science Daily/Helmholtz Zentrum Muenchen - German Research Centre for Environmental Health
Workplace stress can have a range of adverse effects on health with an increased risk of cardio-vascular diseases in the first line. However, to date, convincing evidence for a strong association between work stress and incident Type 2 diabetes mellitus is missing. Researchers have now discovered that individuals who are under a high level of pressure at work face an about 45 percent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who are subjected to less stress at their workplace.
http://images.sciencedaily.com/2014/08/140808110720-large.jpg

Risk of diabetes about 45 percent higher

As the team of scientists headed by Dr. Cornelia Huth and Prof. Karl-Heinz Ladwig has now discovered that individuals who are under a high level of pressure at work and at the same time perceive little control over the activities they perform face an about 45 percent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who are subjected to less stress at their workplace.

The scientists from the Institute of Epidemiology II (EPI II) at the Helmholtz Zentrum München (HMGU) in collaboration with Prof. Johannes Kruse from the University Hospital of Giessen and Marburg examined data prospectively collected from more than 5,300 employed individuals aged between 29 and 66 who took part in the population-based MONICA/KORA cohort study. At the beginning of the study, none of the participants had diabetes, while in the post-observation period, which covered an average of 13 years, almost 300 of them were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The increase in risk in work-related stress was identified independently of classic risk factors such as obesity, age or gender.
Holistic prevention is important -- also at the workplace

"According to our data, roughly one in five people in employment is affected by high levels of mental stress at work. By that, scientists do not mean 'normal job stress' but rather the situation in which the individuals concerned rate the demands made upon them as very high, and at the same time they have little scope for maneuver or for decision making. We covered both these aspects in great detail in our surveys," explains Prof. Ladwig, who led the study. "In view of the huge health implications of stress-related disorders, preventive measures to prevent common diseases such as diabetes should therefore also begin at this point," he added.

Environmental and lifestyle factors play a key role in the development of widespread diseases in Germany such as diabetes mellitus. The aim of the Helmholtz Zentrum München, a partner of the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD), is to develop new approaches to the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of the most common diseases.
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140808110720.htm

Shift workers: Evidence for sleep-inducing and alertness drugs is weak

August 12, 2014
Science Daily/Wiley
Shift workers are taking drugs to help them stay awake or get to sleep despite weak evidence for their benefit, according to a new review. The authors of the review found only small numbers of trials testing over-the-counter and prescription drugs used by shift workers, and the results suggest that for some people they might do more harm than good.

In most developed countries, at least 10% of the workforce is involved in some form of shift work. European statistics suggest that as many as three quarters of the population have 'non-standard' working hours. Disturbances to normal sleeping and waking patterns increase the risk of accidents and affect shift workers' health. It is therefore important to avoid shift work where possible and improve shift work schedules to help shift workers achieve more normal sleeping and waking patterns. In jobs where shift work cannot be avoided, such as health care, the police force or the military, drugs can potentially offer short-term benefits.

The review included 15 trials involving a total of 718 people. In nine trials, the over-the- counter hormone drug melatonin helped shift workers sleep for around 24 minutes longer during the night or day, compared to placebos. However, it did not help them get to sleep any quicker. Data from only one trial of the hypnotic drug zoplicone was available. The drug was no more effective than placebos for helping shift workers sleep during the day.

The remaining trials focused on caffeine and two drugs, modafinil and armodafinil, that are prescribed for sleepiness during night shifts. In one trial, caffeine reduced sleepiness during night shifts, when workers also napped before shifts. Modafinil and armodafinil, used by shift workers in one and two trials respectively, increased alertness and reduced sleepiness. However, they also caused headaches, nausea and a rise in blood pressure in a substantial number of people. Due to the limited benefits and frequent side effects, neither of these drugs is approved for shift workers in Europe.

"For lots of people who do shift work, it would be really useful if they could take a pill that would help them go to sleep or stay awake at the right time," said lead author of the review, Juha Liira, who is based at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Helsinki, Finland. "But from what we have seen in our review, there isn't good evidence that these drugs can be considered for more than temporary use and some may have quite serious side effects."
Most of the data reported in the review was from small, low quality trials. In addition, trials tended to be carried out in specific settings, such as health care or oil rigs, so their results may be less relevant for workers in other types of roles.

"It's curious that there's such a clear gap in the research," said Liira. "It may well be that studying the effects of these drugs or others drugs in properly designed trials would be seen as unethical because workers should not need drugs to get along with their work. So the studies just haven't been done or if they have, our review has not been able to identify relevant data."
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140812235745.htm

Abusive leadership infects entire team

August 20, 2014
Science Daily/Michigan State University
Supervisors who are abusive to individual employees can actually throw the entire work team into conflict, hurting productivity, finds new research led by a business scholar. Supervisors who belittle and ridicule workers not only negatively affect those workers' attitudes and behaviors, but also cause team members to act in a similar hostile manner toward one another, research indicates.

The study, conducted in China and the United States, suggests the toxic effect of nonphysical abuse by a supervisor is much broader than believed. Published online in the Journal of Applied Psychology, it's one of the first studies to examine the effect of bad bosses in employee teams. Teams are increasingly popular in the business world.

Lead investigator Crystal Farh said supervisors who belittle and ridicule workers not only negatively affect those workers' attitudes and behaviors, but also cause team members to act in a similar hostile manner toward one another.

"That's the most disturbing finding," Farh said, "because it's not just about individual victims now, it's about creating a context where everybody suffers, regardless of whether you were individually abused or not."

Farh, assistant professor of management in MSU's Broad College of Business, said the findings could likely be explained by social learning theory, in which people learn and then model behavior based on observing others, in this case the boss. Previous research has shown that workers emulate supervisors' positive behaviors, she said, so it only makes sense they would follow negative behaviors as well.

For the study, Farh and Zhijun Chen from the University of Western Australia studied 51 teams of employees from 10 firms in China. Average team size was about six workers and the teams performed a variety of functions including customer service, technical support and research and development.

The study looked at nonphysical abuse such as verbal mistreatment and demeaning emails. Employees who directly experienced such abuse felt devalued and contributed less to the team. At the same time, the entire team "descended into conflicts," Farh said, which also reduced worker contributions.

"Teams characterized by relationship conflict," Farh said, "are hostile toward other members, mistreat them, speak to them rudely and experience negative emotions toward them."

The study was replicated in a controlled laboratory setting in the United States, with nearly 300 people participating.

The findings have implications for companies faced with rehabilitating a team of employees following abusive supervision. In the past, companies may have simply targeted abused employees with efforts to restore their self-esteem. While that's still important, Farh said, efforts should also be made to fix the team's interpersonal relationships by re-establishing trust and harmony.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140820091703.htm

Humble leaders get more commitment

August 26, 2014
Science Daily/BI Norwegian Business School
Those leaders who are more critical of their own leadership style than their employees are, have greatest success, according to new research. The research study shows that leaders with a good self-insight, who are humble and act as credible role models, are rewarded with committed and service-minded employees.

The research study shows that leaders with a good self-insight, who are humble and act as credible role models, are rewarded with committed and service-minded employees.
This is the conclusion in a study conducted among 1500 leaders and their employees.
The leaders were asked to assess their own leadership style, while their employees were asked to assess the same style. The eye of the beholder is in fact important for a leader's ability to create job commitment and a good service climate.

The organisation researchers compared the employees' assessments and the leader's assessments of his or her leadership style, and found that the responses were by no means identical -- rather the opposite.
The employees decide

Leaders can think whatever they like about their own leadership style. The study shows that leaders' assessments of themselves have little direct impact on the employees' commitment to work.

"It is only when we compare the employees' and the leader's assessments of the same leadership style that we see how leadership affects commitment and service climate," says organisation researcher Karoline Hofslett Kopperud, who conducted the study with Professor Øyvind Martinsen and Associate Professor Sut I. Wong Humborstad at BI Norwegian Business School.
    
This is what researchers call transformational leadership.

When employees feel a leader conducts this type of leadership, it has a positive effect on the perceived service climate in the organisation. It is particularly true when the leader is humble and has a lower opinion of his leadership than his employees have.

"The extent of agreement between the leader and the employees concerning his/her leadership style can both enhance and negate the positive effects of leadership," says Hofslett Kopperud.

.
The extent of agreement between a leader's assessment of herself and the employees' assessment of the same leadership is an expression of the leader's self-insight. Leaders with a strong self-insight demonstrate a good understanding of their own needs, emotions, abilities and behaviour. On top of that, they are proactive in the face of challenges.

The researchers recommend that leadership development programmes should also contribute to greater correlation between a leader's own assessment of leadership and the employees' assessment. This can be achieved by including training in self-reflection and role clarification with one's nearest staff in the development programme.

"It will give the leader a better understanding of how his or her behaviour is perceived and interpreted by the employees," says Hofslett Kopperud.
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140826085720.htm

Online mindfulness intervention reduces fatigue, negative work-related worry

September 9, 2014
Science Daily/British Psychological Society (BPS)
Brief online mindfulness interventions requiring only two hours of training and practice per week are effective at reducing fatigue and negative work-related rumination and at improving sleep quality, a study concludes. 

Persistent work-related rumination, in particular where individuals experience negative emotional thoughts (affective rumination), has previously been shown to be related to increased levels of stress and work-related fatigue.

Stress and its associated physical response are known to have negative health effects in the long run. Business concerns over employee welfare and the impact of time off work highlight the importance of finding ways to help employees reduce the pressure and impact work-related worry may be having.

The intervention had a significant positive effect on levels of affective rumination, sleep quality and fatigue for participants in the intervention group in comparison to the control group. 

The researchers said: "Research has shown that there are significant numbers of people who are suffering from work-related fatigue and rumination. We ourselves have found evidence of the causal relationship between how people worry about work and their ability to recover and switch off effectively at the end of the day.

"Mindfulness helps people to develop awareness of their thoughts and emotions in a positive way helping them make more effective choices and gain over their responses to different situations.

"Online mindfulness interventions may provide a cost effective way for organisations to improve the health of their employees whilst help reduce the long-term negative health consequences of work stress."
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140909191959.htm

Walking or cycling to work improves wellbeing

September 14, 2014
Science Daily/University of East Anglia
Walking or cycling to work is better for people's mental health than driving to work, according to new research by health economists. A report reveals that people who stopped driving and started walking or cycling to work benefited from improved wellbeing. In particular, active commuters felt better able to concentrate and were less under strain than if they traveled by car.

These benefits come on top of the physical health benefits of walking and cycling that are already widely documented.

Experts also found that travelling on public transport is better for people's psychological wellbeing than driving.

Lead researcher Adam Martin, from UEA's Norwich Medical School, said: "One surprising finding was that commuters reported feeling better when travelling by public transport, compared to driving. You might think that things like disruption to services or crowds of commuters might have been a cause of considerable stress. But as buses or trains also give people time to relax, read, socialise, and there is usually an associated walk to the bus stop or railway station, it appears to cheer people up."

The research team studied 18 years of data on almost 18,000 18-65-year-old commuters in Britain. The data allowed them to look at multiple aspects of psychological health including feelings of worthlessness, unhappiness, sleepless nights, and being unable to face problems. The researchers also accounted for numerous factors known to affect wellbeing, including income, having children, moving house or job, and relationship changes.

The study also shows commute time to be important.

Adam Martin said: "Our study shows that the longer people spend commuting in cars, the worse their psychological wellbeing. And correspondingly, people feel better when they have a longer walk to work."

Data from the 2011 Census (England and Wales) shows that 67.1 per cent of commuters use cars or vans as their usual main commute mode compared to 17.8 per cent who use public transport, 10.9 per cent who walk and just 3.1 per cent who cycle.

"This research shows that if new projects such as London's proposed segregated cycleways, or public transport schemes such as Crossrail, were to encourage commuters to walk or cycle more regularly, then there could be noticeable mental health benefits."

The new report contradicts a UK Office of National Statistics study 'Commuting and Personal Wellbeing, 2014', published in February, which found people who walked to work had lower life satisfaction than those who drove to work, while many cyclists were less happy and more anxious than other commuters. Crucially, this new research looks at commuters who had changed travel mode from one year to the next, rather than comparing commuters who were using different travel modes at a single point in time.
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140914211056.htm

Burnout caused by more than just job stress

September 16, 2014
Science Daily/Université de Montréal
Impossible deadlines, demanding bosses, abusive colleagues, unpaid overtime: all factors that can lead to a burnout. But when it comes to mental health in the workplace, the influence of home life must also be considered to get the full picture.

That's about to change thanks to new research from Concordia University and the University of Montreal, which proves that having an understanding partner is just as important as having a supportive boss.

The study, published in the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, surveys 1,954 employees from 63 different organizations and shows that a multitude of issues contribute to mental health problems in the workforce.

The research team polled participants to measure factors like parental status, household income, social network, gender, age, physical health and levels of self-esteem. They studied these elements alongside stressors typically seen in the workplace, such as emotional exhaustion, poor use of skills, high psychological demands, job insecurity and lack of authority.

Turns out mental health in the workplace doesn't exist in a vacuum: it's deeply affected by the rest of a person's day-to-day life. And vice versa.

The study shows that fewer mental health problems are experienced by those living with a partner, in households with young children, higher household incomes, less work-family conflicts, and greater access to the support of a social network outside the workplace.

Of course, factors within the workplace are still important. Fewer mental health problems were reported when employees are supported at work, when expectations of job recognition are met, and when people feel secure in their jobs. A higher level of skill use is also associated with lower levels of depression, pointing to the importance of designing tasks that motivate and challenge workers.

"This is a call to action," says senior author Steve Harvey, professor of management and dean of Concordia's John Molson School of Business. "Researchers need to expand their perspective, so that they get a full picture of the complexity of factors that determine individuals' mental health."

For lead author Alain Marchand, professor at the University of Montreal's School of Industrial Relations, it's all about adopting a holistic view. "To maintain a truly healthy workforce, we need to look outside the office or home in simple terms to combat mental health issues in the workplace."
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140916092703.htm

Nurse survey shows longer working hours impact on quality of care

September 22, 2014
Science Daily/University of Southampton
Results of a survey of more than 30,000 nurses across Europe show that nurses who work longer shifts and more overtime are more likely to rate the standard of care delivered on their ward as poor, give a negative rating of their hospitals safety and omit necessary patient care.

Led by researchers at the University of Southampton and the National Nursing Research Unit (NNRU) at King's College London, the RN4CAST survey of nurses in over 450 hospitals across 12 European countries, was part of an international research programme looking at links between nursing workforce issues and patient outcomes.

Results showed that nearly a third of nurses in England are working shifts of more than 12 hours, something which is becoming more common in English hospitals. Hospitals are adopting long shifts to reduce the number of handovers between nurses and to save costs. Some nurses seem to prefer them because they work fewer days in a week.

Nurses working these long shifts were 30 per cent more likely to report poor quality of care compared to nurses working traditional eight hour shifts. They were also 41 per cent more likely to report failing or poor standards of safety and reported leaving more necessary nursing care undone than nurses working shifts lasting eight hours. Nurses working overtime in their last shift were also likely to report lower standards of care, safety and care left undone.

Professor Peter Griffiths, Chair of Health Services Research at the University of Southampton who led the study, comments: "These findings raise questions for healthcare organisations, especially in the current economic climate, where employers in many countries including England are aiming to use the existing workforce more efficiently, either to reduce expenditure or because of nursing shortages. Moving from three shorter shifts per day to two longer ones has been claimed to save up to 14 percent of salary costs. But at what cost to the patient? This strategy needs to be looked at in much more detail. If nurses perform less effectively and less safely, what's the point?"

"This is compelling evidence that policy makers in England need to take note of," Professor Griffiths adds. "Although eight hour shifts are still common, a lot of nurses are working these longer shifts, but this study shows that this could be counterproductive. Additionally, the increased flexibility associated with working overtime may not deliver the desired goals for employers."
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140922110426.htm

Supervisors' abuse, regardless of intent, can make employees behave poorly

October 8, 2014
Science Daily/San Francisco State University
Employees who are verbally abused by supervisors -- even if it is intended as motivational -- are still more likely to engage in counterproductive work behaviors, a new study finds. Motivational abuse (such as when a coach berates players or a sergeant humiliates cadets) is seen as a violation and can affect an entire company if it leads to lost work time or theft, according to the study.

The fallout from this abuse is not limited to the supervisor and employee and can in fact affect an entire company if it leads to lost work time or theft, Eschleman warned. "We didn't just focus on how these workers felt or whether they started to dislike their jobs more. We looked at consequences that actually affect the bottom line of an organization," he said.

The study included work data from 268 full-time employees selected from an online survey of more than 80,000 people. The employees held a variety of jobs and had an average of nine years at their positions. In the first wave of the survey, workers were asked how often their supervisors "put them down" or ridiculed them. The researchers also asked the employees whether they thought the abuse happened because the supervisors were trying to harm them or hurt their feelings, or because the supervisors meant the abuse as motivational or a way to "light a fire" under people.

A month later, Eschleman and his colleagues asked the employees whether they had participated in any counterproductive behaviors at work, like making fun of a supervisor or slacking off on the job. The researchers were somewhat surprised that even motivational abuse caused the same behavioral backlash in employees. Workers may see any kind of abuse as "a violation of how they expect to be treated," Eschleman said.

So-called tough love can be common in professions such as the military and medicine, where abuse by supervisors might be seen as part of the work culture. "If you have an organization where the culture accepts that type of behavior," Eschleman suggested, "you're probably not going to feel as violated when it occurs."

Yet the overall results of the study suggest that abuse will not lead to a more productive workplace. "I think there are a lot of supervisors who believe that this could be an effective way to lead," Eschleman said, "but I don't necessarily think that's the case for a lot of people. In general, a lot of people are going to respond negatively."

The researchers found that employees aim these counterproductive behaviors both at the supervisors and at the organization as a whole. "Supervisors are often the face of a company, and so their behavior really kind of implies the company's values," Eschleman explained. "So it's not just that they would target the person who's treating them poorly or abusively, but that they're going to target the organization that's allowing that to happen."

Although abused employees were more likely to engage in such behaviors, Eschleman said it is not clear why the workers act out. "We used to think it must be retaliation, but I think more recently researchers and organizations have begun to recognize that it is not always done with ill intent," he added. "It could be more of a release or venting, and I think it is a form of coping sometimes."
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141008083704.htm

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