Canadian Manufacturing

Key employees are more stressed

by Erika Beauchesne   

Environment CAMH Employee Engagement occupational health and safety shift work workplace wellness

Stress less common in young workers, small businesses: study

TORONTO—People who view their work as just “a job” are likely less stressed out than those who consider it a career, according to a new study by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

The study interviewed 2,737 workers in Alberta across sectors ranging from clerical to forestry and manufacturing. A total 18 per cent reported their jobs were “highly stressful.”

High stress was more common among employees who were the most invested in their jobs—a finding that should ring alarm bells for managers, says Carolyn Dewa, senior scientist and head of CAMH’s work and well-being research and evaluation program.

“From a business perspective, it is in a company’s best interest to support these workers,” Dewa says.


“Employers should be asking, ‘What am I doing to reduce stress in my most valuable people?’”

Workers with more responsibility reported higher stress levels, including employees who felt their poor job performance could cause physical injury, damage to company equipment or reputation, or financial loss.

The odds of being stressed also increased if employees had to travel for their job or work variable hours, including shift work.

Regional location and occupation didn’t play a factor, but the study did find some trends among the 82 per cent of workers who reported low or no stress.

Single men under 25 were the least stressed out and so were employees working in a small business.

People who were happy in their jobs also reported the lowest levels of stress.

Dewa said the information could be used to develop interventions targeting both workers and their work environment, which is considered a more effective approach.

“It is important that employees have access to resources that address their mental health concerns. In the long run, these interventions can help save some of the annual $17 billion in lost productivity in Canada,” she said.

Dewa said managers can start by working with employees to create environments that decrease stress.

“That could mean opportunities that increase social support from colleagues and supervisors, creating ways for workers to have greater autonomy, looking at work schedules and the amount of work that is distributed,” she said.

The study was published in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.


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