Working in an environment with competing objectives under tight deadlines and fear of punishment is a too common description of work today. A few high stress occupations are challenging whether the results of job stress (i.e. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) qualifies as Worker’s Compensation claims. The British Medical Journal linked job stress to cardio-vascular disease in 2002; American studies recently validated this information. Chronic stress increases cortisol which creates inflammation and is linked to disease. Previously blaming the person’s reaction to stress (i.e. the Type A personality), now findings reveal organizations can make changes to reduce stress.
An individual’s response to a situation has a lot to do with how the stress is processed as well as the resulting performance. Teaching employees how to manage stress may not be an employer’s responsibility. However, basic neuroscience teaches us when the brain is focused on avoiding pain or punishment; it has little energy remaining to focus on performance.