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Work stress: Do email and communication methods play a part?

Work stress: Do email and communication methods play a part?

It's a technology that a huge number of workers use throughout their working days, but it seems that using email could be linked to stress in the workplace, something which could impact on healthy living.

A recent study has discovered a direct link between these two things, according to Loughborough University, the organisation behind the research.

A sample of 30 of a UK government agency's workers took part in the study and their heart rate, their blood pressure and their cortisol levels were measured. At the same time, they kept diaries about their experiences.

Researchers Professor Tom Jackson, Laura Marulanda-Carter and Dr Gillian Ragsdell discovered that there was a direct connection linking stress with email.

The study's results suggested that workers had a greater proneness to higher levels of stress when they were reading emails as well as when they were sending these electronic messages.

Workers' higher heart rate, higher blood pressure and higher cortisol levels were what indicated this to be the case.

Yet employees were not so susceptible to stress at times when they were filing emails or retrieving them.

We all know that certain emails can be less pleasant to receive than others, and it seems that workers said that emails that distracted or interrupted them from the jobs they were doing at work, were not relevant or needed to be responded to immediately were especially annoying to them.

But they were happy to get emails if they had timely info in them, or were responding to or showing gratitude for their completed work.

According to researcher Professor Jackson, a key move to cut down on stress in the workplace is for staff to be trained better in the ways they should "manage their communication media".

He warned that stress could result in "long term chronic health conditions" and listed thyroid disease, hypertension, coronary artery disease and heart failure among these, saying that it was vital for stress to be managed.

Although the research showed email caused stress in comparison to spending time away from email, he explained, when held up against other forms of communication it was not any worse than other forms of media.

"Multi-tasking email alongside other communication media, such as phone and face-to-face meetings, increases the risk of becoming stressed," he said.

Last year, 'Show Stress Who's Boss' author Carole Spiers gave her views on stress, saying: "Pressure is good for you, but stress is not. Excessive pressure is nearly always the root cause of stress. Bosses need to ensure that they know and appreciate individual capabilities."

Though it might be okay to face an overload of work for a short time, over long periods it could damage health, she warned.

If you're facing work stress, it might be time to look into ways you could help yourself, and if in doubt get a professional expert such as your GP to advise you about how you could make the situation better.

 
 
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