Take care to avoid burnout from excessive job stress

If you feel that you are working harder, and virtually all the time, you are not alone. According to Robert Half’s 2011 Workplace Survey, 69 per cent of Singaporean employees tune into work even when they are out of the office or on holiday.

‘Workaholism’ is on the rise as technology allows employees to access work emails and receive work calls anytime and anywhere. Constant work connectivity can result in greater job stress. Slowing economic growth and poor market performance can also add to job stress, with more employees feeling an increasing pressure to perform.

Work stress in males and females

Gender can also influence stress at work. A 2011 World Health Organisation commentary on gender disparities in mental health revealed that just as gender influences a person’s social position, status and treatment in society, so it affects what gives men and women stress and how they react to it.

Work that does not allow for skill discretion and decision-making authority contributes most to depression, and is more prevalent the lower one’s rank. As women generally earn less than men and more often occupy the lower ranking positions in organisations, they are more prone than men to work-related stress.

“However, stress does differ depending on the industry sector. For instance, in the construction industry, according to a study published in the Journal of Management in Engineering in 2004, men appear to experience slightly higher levels of stress than women,” says Dr Fong Yuke Tien, Senior​ Consultant and Director of Occupational Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth​ group.

“Men in this industry appeared to suffer more stress in relation to risk-taking, disciplinary matters, implications of mistakes, redundancy, and career progression. Female engineers in the construction industry, on the other hand, stressed more over opportunities for personal development, keeping up with new ideas and business travel.”

“At work, women, more than men, are stressed by low income, income inequality, and low or subordinate social status and rank. These differences reflect the realities of women’s role in society and at work,” explains Dr Fong.

See next page for warning signs, prevention tips and risk factors for occupational burnout​.

Ref: U11