Stress at work
STATISTICS show that more and more of us are suffering from stress and that much of this is caused by our jobs. It appears that many of us are working too hard and this is taking a toll on our health. There is, experts tell us, simply too much pressure put on many employees these days. In many jobs, in sales or production departments, for example, unrealistic targets are set for the workforce. People are, in fact, trying to do the impossible and making themselves ill by doing so. In many countries, more and more people are working longer hours. Some workers have to do this to cope with their workload, while others think that staying late will impress the boss so much that he will promote them. This extended presence in the workplace is known as presenteeism. Such overwork often results in extreme fatigue, or even exhaustion, with many people also suffering from insomnia. When the workers get home, instead of resting or enjoying a leisure pursuit, they simply cannot switch off. Their minds are still full of work worries. Most people used to able to leave behind the tension and anxiety to the workplace when they went on holiday. Unfortunately, modern communication systems, such as mobile phones and email, have made this a thing of the past. We find it almost impossible to leave our work behind. Neither the body nor the mind can go on doing too much indefinitely. Workers reach a point beyond which they cannot cope, and have to take time off. Some may experience burn-out and some may become mentally ill. Meanwhile, a study by some American universities has shown that stress can weaken the immune system. The fact that stress or work leads to illness is supported by findings by the British Health and Safety Executive. These indicate that 60 per cent of absent from work is a result of stress. It is time for us all to take stress seriously and to reconsider the ethos of modern working conditions. Working hard is important but everyone must realise that even productivity is less important than our health.
anxiety the state of being worried and nervous about something that is going to happen or about something that is going to happen or about something that might happen: Jean’s in a state of anxiety because she is waiting for her exam results to arrive. burn-out a state of extreme physical and mental tiredness caused by overwork: If you don’t get enough rest you’ll end up suffering from burn-out. • burn-out to become extremely tired because of overworking over a period of time: Pam is going to burn herself out if she keeps studying until the early hours of the morning. email (short for electronic mail) a method of sending messages or information from one person or company to another by means of computers using a telephone service and a modem; a message sent in this way: I received an email from my cousin in Australia telling me that she is going to visit me. • email to send a message by email: Fred emailed us all to ask us to his party instead of posting invitations. ethos the beliefs, ideas and attitudes associated with a particular group, period of time, etc: The ethos of Britain public schools is described very well in the novel. exhaustion a state of extreme tiredness: The runner collapsed with exhaustion at the end of the race. • exhausted extremely tired: The exhausted children sat down to rest. fatigue a state of gread tiredness, often because of hard work or exercise: We walked many miles that day and were all suffering from fatigue at the end of it. immune system the system in the body, consisting of cells, tissues, etc, which fights against infection: The child keeps getting infections and doctors think that there may be a fault in his immune system. insomnia the inability to fall asleep or to stay asleep long enough to get enough rest, especially when this happens over a period of time: Bill often watches television in the middle of the night, as he suffers from insomnia. • insomniac a person who suffers from insomnia: Pat is an insomniac and often feels very tired during the day. leisure pursuit something which you do when you are not at work and can enjoy yourself, a hobby, a pastime: Mary’s favourite leisure pursuit is hill walking. Sue works such long hours that she has little time for leisure pursuits. presenteeism the act of staying in your workplace for far longer than you are supposed to, and often for far longer than you actually need to: Presenteeism among the workplace is not good for the company, as many workers do not get enough rest to be able to work properly pressure 1. the force which is produced when you press something the applying of a firm weight or force against something: Police put up barriers but the pressure of the large crowd knocked them over. 2. the things which a person has to do in the course of work etc and which often cause worry and anxiety; the worry and anxiety caused in this way: He hated the pressure of having to meet sales targets and resigned from the job. Productivity the rate at which a company produces goods or provides services, usually considered in relation to the number of people the company employs and the amount of materials which it uses: The boss said that if productivity did not improve then he would have to make some people redundant. • productive producing a great deal: This factory’s workplace is the most productive in the whole company. promote 1. to move someone to a more senior job or position in a firm or organisation: Anna was only with the company a year when she was promoted to office manager. 2. to advertise or give publicity to something statistic a piece of information from a collection of data, shown in numbers: An alarming statistic is that the number of accidents on that road has increased by 30 per cent in the past two years. • statistics a collection of data shown in numbers and based on the number of times something happens: I don’t know the exact statistics, but women still live longer than men. stress 1. worry and anxiety caused by overwork or some other difficult situation: Sara was advised to take more physical exercise to try to get rid of her stress. switch off to stop thinking about something: to stop paying attention: It’s not fair to worry about work problems when you get home; do try to switch off. target a result or goal which you are trying to achieve: The bomb failed to hit its target. 2. an object which is aimed at in shooting practice, darts, etc, often a round board with circles on it: Mike is hopeless at darts shooting; he didn’t hit the target once. tension a feeling of anxiety and worry that makes it very difficult to relax: You can imagine the tension which the pupils are experiencing as they wait for their exam results. take its toll on to have a very bad effect on someone: Bill looks a lot older quite suddenly; the difficulties at work have taken their toll on him. workload the amount of work someone has to do: Sue is complaining that she was a very heavy workload and is asking for an assistant. workforce (with singular or plural verb) all the people who work for a particular company or industry; all of the people in a country who are employed or avail a be for work: Many of the workforce in the textile factory are women. workplace the place where you work, an office, factory, etc: Paul is moving house in order to be nearer to his workplace.
Read the passage and definitions carefully and answer the following questions. 1. Rewrite the following sentence, replacing the words in bold with a noun: Meg is always very tired; she has been suffering from an inability to fall asleep for some months. 2. Write down a word which is opposite in meaning to absenteeism. 3. Rewrite the following sentence, inserting the missing word: Sally suffers from constant back pain and it is taking its .................... on her. 4. Rewrite the following sentence, inserting the missing adjective: The talks between management and unions were not very ................... and both sides felt that they had been a waste of time. 5. Give a phrasal verb for the words in bold in the following sentence: Jenny tried to forget about her money worries and enjoyed the film, but she just could not forget it. 6. What is the name given to the process in the body which fights against infection? 7. Rewrite the following sentence, inserting the missing word: Two people have left the office and not been replaced with the result that the workers who are left have an increased ................... 8. Write down two nouns from the passage which are related to tiredness and are very close in meaning. 9. Rewrite the following sentence, replacing the words in bold with an adjective. Jean had said she would be home my midnight and, when she didn’t arrive, her parents become very worried and nervous. 10. Write down a word from the passage which also means the emphasis which is placed on a syllable in pronunciation.