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"What makes your Job so Stressful"

Discussion in 'Education news' started by ridleyrumpus, Jan 2, 2019.

  1. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Lead commenter

    Whilst going through a back issue of New Scientist I came across this article that seems quite apposite.

    "found that effort versus reward seems to be the biggest determinant of workplace stress – but only among people who have particularly high workloads and long hours "

    “Hair cortisol is a good marker of chronic stress,” says Kymberlee O’Brien at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. Long term, you might expect to see exhaustion, depression and being more vulnerable to sickness, as well as lower well-being and life satisfaction, she says."

    "Chronic stress is linked to premature aging, early death, disability, chronic disease, depression, and poor quality of life (American Psychological Association, 2012; Epel & Lithgow, 2014; Klein et al., 2014). "


    DO YOU give your all to your job but get little recognition? A study of workplace stress suggests that throwing yourself into work that you love, but not receiving appropriate reward, is a toxic cocktail for biological stress.

    Leander van der Meij, now at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, and his colleagues have discovered this by studying people’s cortisol levels. This hormone is released in times of stress, helping prepare the body for “fight or flight” by increasing blood sugar levels and slowing down digestion, for example.

    The response can be helpful in the short term, but chronic stress can lead to health problems, such as infections and diabetes. To investigate whether certain workplace conditions might cause this kind of damaging stress, the team analysed cortisol levels in hair samples from 172 volunteers.

    There are two leading ideas about what affects people’s stress levels at work. One hypothesis suggests that the level of independence a person has, and the amount of support they receive from colleagues and bosses, determines how stressful a job is. The other that the effort a person puts into work, versus how much reward they get back, is more important.

    To investigate these ideas, van der Meij’s team compared the levels of cortisol in 91 people who work a typical 9-to-5 week, with those in 81 people doing training programmes, such as MBAs, alongside their day jobs. These people have more to do, work longer hours and also study in their spare time, says van der Meij.

    The participants also filled in a survey on work experiences over the prior three months, including rewards like pay rises and praise. Van der Meij’s team found that effort versus reward seems to be the biggest determinant of workplace stress – but only among people who have particularly high workloads and long hours (Psychoneuroendocrinology, doi.org/cjcr). “What’s dangerous is if you don’t get compensated,” says van der Meij. “When you like your job and want to do well, but don’t get promoted or a pay rise, that cocktail leads to high cortisol.”

    Meij suspects that the long-term consequences of this could be dangerous. “It may be good that cortisol levels are higher in the short term – it may help them cope with the workload,” he says. “But we don’t know if, in the longer term, it leads to disease.”

    Stress levels in people working normal hours weren’t related to either idea, perhaps because they weren’t stressed enough to detect a relationship, says van de Meij.

    “Hair cortisol is a good marker of chronic stress,” says Kymberlee O’Brien at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. Long term, you might expect to see exhaustion, depression and being more vulnerable to sickness, as well as lower well-being and life satisfaction, she says.

    “Employees should be able to see that their input is worth something,” says van der Meij. “As an employer, you have to ensure that they have the prospect of opportunities, especially if they are committed and do a lot of work.”

    This article appeared in print under the headline “What makes your job so stressful” By Jessica Hamzelou
    stonerose and BetterNow like this.
  2. install

    install Star commenter

    To name a few over the years:

    Low hourly rate of pay
    No Overtime pay or bonus pay
    Late night and out of work hours communication e.g. emails.
    Expected voluntary work
    Poor support
    Meetings for the sake of meeting time
    No mobility pay in places
    High expectations with no reward back year on year
    Failure of some heads and senior staff to teach challenging groups
  3. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Lead commenter

    Sounds exq tly like ALL of the bad aspects mentioned in the article, don't it?
    stonerose, BetterNow and install like this.
  4. install

    install Star commenter

    Yes it does sound like the article. A great find. Teaching has changed dramatically and it has little respect these days either financially or in society. In my experience, there needs to be a push for a better hourly rate and fixed hours. The notion of a vocation, a career or even teaching as a profession is long gone now. It is simply an underpaid job that demands more of the employee than many others.

    I have to say I love teaching itself - but not the lack of time, reward or pay that goes with it.
  5. Lalex123

    Lalex123 Occasional commenter

    The most stressful part of my job is results and accountability. I work in a high performing school at the moment so students tend to work hard and achieve their targets but in previous schools it was tough due to behaviour and aspiration of students. I used to dread meeting after results day all year round because there are other factors besides myself that influences childrens’ results.

    So the biggie for me would be being accountable for things beyond my control.
  6. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Lead commenter

    That would do it....

    For me it is not EVER being able to turn off. At home I always think I should be doing something work related and feel guilty when not doing so.

    I find myself looking at people doing normal jobs, having a chat about a problem, etc etc rather than constantly running around like headless chickens trying to keep a taverna of plates spinning whilst satisfying the often subjective and contradictory expectations of all "stakeholders".

    All this for at least 25% less real terms take home than a decade ago.

    Deep Joy.
    stonerose, TEA2111, BetterNow and 7 others like this.
  7. Sir_Henry

    Sir_Henry Occasional commenter

    Add to that persisten surveillance and scrutiny with little or no autonomy.
  8. drvs

    drvs Star commenter

    Stressful? The constant negativity of colleagues who trot out their well-worn list of complaints at every opportunity without ever taking action to change their circumstances.

    Misery loves company.
    Doncaster17 and swampyjo like this.
  9. install

    install Star commenter

    :rolleyes: ...Oh - and those in denial who see stress as none-existent, and see people merely complaining, or even and dare I say it as containers of 'negativity'. They only add to the problem without looking at it, accepting it, or resolving it.

    Stress in our society is still not fully understood. A pity really when one considers the denial of stress in historic terms. Some even now fail to realise that stressed people can actually be positive, hard working and under the cosh..

    Either way it is good to talk about stress.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2019
    drek, agathamorse, stonerose and 3 others like this.
  10. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Lead commenter

    Some stress is a good thing I know that I for one operate best when under some stress. However when it turns into relentless, never ending stress and lots of it that is when it is not good for your health.

    I suspect what is especially not healthy with the stress in teaching is the self knowledge that a lot of what we are stressed with is ultimately not worth doing, triple marking, detailed lesson plans for every lesson, making sure there is evidence that you talked to Johnny etc etc etc.

    I have worked in many stressful jobs, some on the face of it more stressful than teaching but I think it is sheer mind numbing waste of time in carrying out what are in the main futile tasks that benefit nothing but the tick sheet that records that the task has been completed for the benefit of some inspector who is only looking for it because someone showed something similar at another school.
  11. schoolsout4summer

    schoolsout4summer Star commenter

    You omitted micromanagement, trust, ageism and bullying. Also assessment, data collection and entry onto "the system", then producing endless graphs, pie charts and action plans. Ad infinitum.

    I have just realised that none of the above reasons actually relate to teaching pupils. They are all caused by vague conditions of employment and incompetent/poor management.
  12. SelectMyTutor

    SelectMyTutor New commenter

    There are many reasons that make your job so stressful, including Low hourly rate of pay, the communication gap between staff and high workload.
    You have to keep calm yourself at the workplace and do hard work will make you happy.
    agathamorse likes this.
  13. PeterQuint

    PeterQuint Lead commenter

    I think the daddy of them all is the (often upspoken/implied) threat of capability.

    Without that, nothing else is an issue, apart from the pay.
    drek, agathamorse, stonerose and 7 others like this.
  14. install

    install Star commenter

    Real stress is actually harmful.to health and a genuine illness that drains those who suffer from it . It can affect anyone - even positive thinking people who go all out.

    Take a look at the thread : 'I felt ashamed' / 'Something has to give'. It really is more complicated than people complaining.
    drek, agathamorse and stonerose like this.
  15. drvs

    drvs Star commenter

    Of course, I'm not in any way downplaying the physiological and psychological effects of stress - of course it is real and harmful. My point is that constantly putting your stressors into focus and stacking them up while making no changes to reduce them is stressful in itself. Plenty of posters on here will happily list their gripes, maybe give some "shoulds" about how they think things "should" be for them, but few will take any positive action or make life choices which will reduce their own stress level. They always expect that their employer or establishment "should" make ALL the adjustments while overlooking their own part in the play. I view that as a negative response to stress, not a useful one.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2019
  16. install

    install Star commenter

    So you accept that positive, hard working people who talk about stress are not moaning ?.And that talking about stress can be a part of the healing process ?.
    agathamorse, stonerose and TEA2111 like this.
  17. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

  18. thin_ice

    thin_ice New commenter

    No. Just someone who has a different experience and wants to add some balance.

    The pay issue is tricky. There are a lot of posts in different threads where teachers are trapped in the job because they will have to take a pay cut if they leave. You’ll find many posters who have left saying that they had to take a big drop in pay.

    Earning just enough to make it hard to quit simply adds to the stress. You’ll have teachers who are desperate to leave but don’t want to put their family in financial difficulties. Grim.

    Feeling trapped in a job that is doing you harm can only lead to a very damaging cycle.
  19. install

    install Star commenter

    Not sure what you are replying to here? But I agree with your last para especially
  20. Doncaster17

    Doncaster17 New commenter

    Can´t agree more.

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