Is Work Killing You?

Posted February 1, 2013 in Career Management, Decision Making, What We're Reading

By: David Posen, MD

Reviewed by: Glain Roberts-McCabe

The Premise: Economic uncertainty, technology and corporate culture have made today’s workplaces more toxic than ever. The pressure on individuals is unrelenting and workplace stress is wreaking havoc on individual health AND the bottomline. Dr. David Posen is a leading expert on stress and has written several books including The Little Book of Stress Relief and Always Change a Losing Game. In Is Work Killing You? Dr. Posen looks more closely at why we’re in the mess we’re in and what we can do to start breaking the cycle of unrelenting pressure. The book outlines three big contributors to stress at work: volume (how workload has become work overload); velocity (how technology and other factors have increased work pace to a frenzy); and, abuse (how stressed out individuals are making life miserable at work). Filled with stories, backed by research and peppered with Dr. Posen’s humour, Is Work Killing You? provides practical strategies that any reader can quickly put in to action to lower their personal stressors. In addition, Dr. Posen outlines some very specific steps leaders can take to change the game at work for the good of everyone.

The Bottom Line: I had the opportunity to read an early manuscript of Is Work Killing You? and found it one of the most depressing books I’d ever read. As I remarked to David at the time, “why on earth are we doing this to ourselves?” As you’d expect, there’s some really terrific material in here that will provide readers with strategies and, more importantly, with perspective – particularly all you Type A, people-pleaser, achievement-oriented, ambitious types who put massive amounts of internal pressure on yourselves (guilty as charged!). The medical facts about what stress does to your body are beyond eye-opening. But this, to me, isn’t the most important part of the book. The part that’s most important (and that made my blood boil) is this: over the past 40 years executive compensation has risen to between 200 and 400% of that of the average frontline worker (up from 40 times in the 60’s & 70’s)! These numbers are egregious and you don’t need to be a math wizard to see that. As the top of the house has rewarded themselves with giant pay packages, the middle ranks are the ones who’ve paid the price. Add to this, shareholders demanding more and more returns and suddenly we have workplaces where 60-100 hour work weeks are considered the norm and people are doing the jobs of 1.5 to 2 individuals. I think we need to redefine “what is enough?” So, to all of our members… what are we going to do to stop this insanity? Dr. Posen gives you some good ideas to get you started.

Roundtable Rating: This is an important read for anyone really serious about wanting to make work a better place.

Check out the book and learn more by visiting www.davidposen.com


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