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An interesting article about increases in workplace stress

Discussion in 'Personal' started by Duke of York, Jul 17, 2019.

  1. Duke of York

    Duke of York Star commenter


    The article considers how stressful low paid jobs such as those in the fast food industry have become, but maybe it offers an insight into what the future holds for everyone.

    Here's the opening few paragraphs...

    "If you had to make a rat depressed, how do you think you’d go about it?

    (Okay, you can’t technically make a rat “depressed” — a scientist would ask how to “create a model of depression” in rats. Actually being depressed is exclusive to humans. But the drugs used to treat depression in humans are developed and tested using rodents.)

    So to test your new antidepressant, you need an efficient method of making a lot of rats exhibit anhedonia — that is, making them lose interest in things they used to enjoy, like sugar.

    How do you think you’d do that?

    It turns out you don’t need to traumatize them. The most reliable protocol is “chronic mild stress.” There are many methods of making the lives of experimental animals mildly but chronically miserable — a cage floor that administers random electric shocks; a deep swimming pool with no way to rest or climb out; a stronger “intruder” introduced into the same cage. One neuroscientist actually nicknamed his apparatus the Pit of Despair.

    But they’re all variations on the same theme: remove all predictability and control from the animal’s life. Then take notes as they gradually lose interest in being alive.

    The media mostly discusses job stress in the context of white-collar, educated professionals. We don’t put nearly as much time and energy into exploring the stress of unskilled, low-wage service work — even though the jobs most Americans actually work could be mistaken for Pits of Despair.

    Perhaps it’s because as technology progresses, it tends to make life easier for the top of the labor market — those skilled, educated workers with decent salaries and benefits. Often overlooked is how those same technological advances have made it possible to control and monitor unskilled worker productivity down to the second. These technologies are also getting more powerful, and that makes a lot of people’s lives inescapably, chronically stressful.

    It can be hard to understand the stress of having someone constantly looking over your shoulder if you haven’t recently — or have never — had to work a job like this. By definition, that’s most everybody with power in this country."
    sbkrobson and EmanuelShadrack like this.
  2. EmanuelShadrack

    EmanuelShadrack Star commenter

    The full article makes for very depressing reading.

    I am very fortunate that my job is light years apart from the one described.
    Duke of York likes this.
  3. Duke of York

    Duke of York Star commenter

    Similarlty mine, however lots of jobs now bear little resemblance to what they once were. Even in the few years I've been doing this job, I've found I've being asked to do more tedious bureaucracy that is largely irrelevant, but acts as means to distance senior managers from blame if something goes seriously wrong. It's the "why wasn't this box ticked?" thing that helps shift the blame, even though the very act of spending time ticking boxes distracts from noticing a disaster about to happen.

    I can't say how many times I've read posts from teachers who complain about the time they are required to spend entering data and other b.ollox, when what they really want to do is get on and teach. Teach in the way they believe to be most effective.

    Take away the predictability and control from the individual frequently enough and any job can be like those described in the rat experiments and the jobs described.
    Mrsmumbles likes this.
  4. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    Having done low paid jobs myself in my time, at least one knows when the shift ends say to offer temporary escape.
    Things like knowing a cold drink or lie down or pint or nice dinner await in several hours get many of us through what would otherwise be unbearable situations (such as low set Y10 P5 in sticky, airless heat perhaps.)
  5. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

    One of the reasons why our eldest is so active in a Union promoting rights for those at the bottom end of the restaurant/hospitality industry, including facing up to major international chains who refuse to recognise Unions. I'm proud of her for taking a firm stance on this issue.
    bombaysapphire likes this.
  6. hhhh

    hhhh Lead commenter

    The bit about someone 'constantly looking over your shoulder' surely is relevant to teaching today. Traditionally teaching was seen as a creative, professional, well respected job-but these days, some teachers more or less have to follow scripts and are treated far worse than I was when I worked at a supermarket (I am not for one minute saying it would have been more acceptable to 'dehumanize' me when I worked in either post).

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