Work Can Be Hazardous to Employee Health

June 3, 2004 ( - A new study has found that differences in the way men and women are managed at work puts both at risk for cardiovascular problems, depression, and a higher susceptibility to infectious diseases.

The study indicated that gender-based workplace value differences can create a company culture of underlying stress and conflict that affects the physical and emotional health of both men and women. The study also shows that females are at a higher health risk from workplace stress than males and thatthe incidence of cardiovascular disease almost doubles, as does the use of potentially addictive substances like alcohol, tranquilizers and mood elevators, if an employee is uncomfortable at the office.

Elizabeth Browning, CEO of LLuminari, the health education firm that commissioned the study, said its findings are significant because they link gender-based medicine with a healthy workplace. “All companies are looking for solutions to reduce healthcare costs,” Browning said in a news release. “The answer isn’t just about gyms and healthier choices in the cafeterias. The study shows that a complete solution must include addressing corporate workplace culture and its link to a healthy workforce.”

Value Differences

The study highlighted the gender difference in what different employees value at the office. The three values in the workplace most important to men are pay and benefits, achievement and success as well as status and authority. While these values also are important to women, ranking higher in importance were friends at work and relationships; recognition and respect, and communication and collaboration.

“Male and female managers who are sensitive to gender differences will have the ability to bring out the best of both genders toward achieving results,” Browning said. “The health of the organization depends on the health of the individual. Since women now represent half of the workforce, we need to understand how corporate cultures that have evolved largely based on male models can become healthy for both genders.”

The study also found that:

  • 20% of respondents said that work regularly interfered with responsibilities at home and kept them from spending time with their families
  • 54% of respondents said they “often to always” come home from work tired and almost 50% come into work already tired
  • 40% of respondents said they experienced distress due to too much pressure or mental fatigue at work
  • Almost half of respondents do not take their allotted vacation time.

The study, titled Creating Healthy Corporate Cultures for Both Genders, was conducted for LLuminari by P. Michael Peterson, a professor of health promotion at the University of Delaware. More than 1,100 men and women from companies with 1,000+ employees participated in the online survey conducted by Harris Interactive.

“It’s important that managers understand what men value as opposed to what women value in a healthy workplace environment,” Peterson said. “Knowing and managing the differences helps to not only effectively motivate employees and generate consistent, quality results, but also to foster loyalty and overall physical and emotional health.”

More information about LLuminari and the study, Creating Healthy Corporate Cultures for Both Genders, is at .