Due to email, cell phones, and the Internet, leaving the pressures of the office at the office has become a hopeless endeavor. A recent study now suggests that spending more time in our work cubicle is better for overall stress levels. Researchers from Penn State have tested stress hormones that reveal women are more likely to deal with stress at home compared to at work.
According to a 2007 survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, around 75 percent of people in the United States name work as a significant source of any stress they experience. Half of the survey’s respondents admitted that stress caused their work productivity to suffer. These workers are not the only ones who suffer as a result of their stress. Employers reported an annual loss of revenue estimated at $300 billion due to absenteeism, loss of productivity, employee turnover, and medical, legal, and insurance fees.
“Further contradicting conventional wisdom, we found that women as well as men have lower levels of stress at work than at home,” Assistant Professor of Labor & Employment Relations, Sociology, and Women's Studies at Penn State, Sarah Damaske, said in a statement. “In fact, women may get more renewal from work than men, because unlike men, they report themselves happier at work than at home. It is men, not women, who report being happier at home than at work.”
Damaske and her colleagues from Penn State gathered cortisol levels from 22 working women from various socioeconomic backgrounds both at home and at the office. Cortisol levels are biological markers for stress. Also known as stress hormones, cortisol levels have been known to interfere with learning, memory, immune function, cholesterol, heart disease, and other health risks when elevated.
Women participating in the study displayed significantly lower levels of stress when they were at work compared to being at home. Surprisingly, the research team also found that parents, both fathers and mothers, were less stressed at work than at home. Damaske applauded work programs like the "Results Only Work Environments," which allows more flexible work hours among employees who are still able to fulfill their responsibilities at the office.
“Our findings suggest that telling people to quit or cut back on work in order to resolve their work-family conflicts may not be the best long-run advice,” Damaske added. “Rather, companies should consider adopting family friendly policies that allow workers to continue getting the health benefits of employment while still being able to meet their family responsibilities.”
Source: Smyth J, Zawadzki M, Damaske S. Really? Work lowers people’s stress levels. Council on Contemporary Families. 2014.