• Jessica McDonald

Is Work Killing You?

Updated: Apr 12, 2020

Stress can be a motivator, and a push to reach your goals. A healthy level of stress is good for you, but it’s important to manage it before it takes over our lives. We can quickly lose sight of the important things when we let stress fog up our sight.

I highly recommend reading the book Is Work Killing You? A Doctor’s Prescription for Treating Workplace Stress by David Posen. This book mainly addresses corporate jobs and how they have caused so many problems for employees. Posen writes this book based on his personal knowledge from several years as a stress counsellor. Even if you haven’t entered the workforce yet, like myself, there is still a lot to learn from this book.

David Posen identifies and discusses three main sources of workplace stress: Volume, Velocity and Abuse. Volume refers to the amount of work that is required of employees to complete. Velocity is how fast paced work environments have become, and Abuse looks at the damaging effects bullies and abusers cause in the workplace. Through scientific facts, diagrams and his own experience David Posen provides the reader with extensive knowledge and skills to tackle workplace stress. He discusses how downsizing, corporate culture, economic uncertainty and technology leads employees to enter a severe state of unhealthy stress. This results in several physical and mental health issues.

These problems don’t just affect the employee either, this stress has reached a familial, global and societal scale. David Posen gives lots of insight on this issue and lists several ways to combat it.

To give you a taste of the material I have listed some of the key takeaways from this book:

  • More hours working does not equal more work being accomplished - the more tired you are the less productive you will be

  • Downsizing causes employees to be overloaded with work, creating more stress, making them less efficient at completing work, resulting in workers taking sick days to recuperate - ultimately leading the company to lose money, when saving was the reason for downsizing

  • Everyone's body has a different schedule and we all have different prime times where we can focus and get work done to the best of our ability. Corporate culture can create a feeling of having to show your face at the office to make it seem like you are working. This hinders employees from using peak performance times by having to follow social expectations of being in the office from 9-5


  • Companies having PHONE BLACKOUTS - from 6pm-6am no one can send out work emails or calls, unless it's an emergency

  • Finding the right size of employees! Where everyone is challenged, at a level their comfortable, there's enough people in case of an emergency and workers have energy leftover at the end of the day for their personal lives

  • Companies allowing meetings to not be mandatory, having strict schedule to follow, beginning meetings on time and cutting back on the length of them in order to be efficient and allow employees to have enough time to get other work done

  • Employees refrain from checking work emails right before bed or as soon as wake up

  • Taking lunch breaks everyday and consistent short breaks whenever needed - like going to washroom, getting water, talking to co-worker, taking a short walk without phone, listening to a song

  • Shifting personal beliefs to be more attainable and healthy - refer to diagram below

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