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The role of the workplace in the production and containment of health costs: the case of stress‐related disorders

Martin Shain (Senior Scientist, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

Leadership in Health Services

ISSN: 1366-0756

Publication date: 1 June 1999

Abstract

Workplaces vary enormously in the amount of harmful stress they produce, even within specific economic sectors. Stress of certain kinds and at certain levels tend to produce health harms and costs that are borne not only by individual employees and employers but also by families and society at large. Variations in stress levels within economic sectors can be traced to variations in management practices that govern key conditions of work involving demand, effort, control and reward. The costs of stress‐related disorders produced by adverse governance practices are transferred outside the workplace in varying degrees. The actual extent of this cost transfer depends on policies and programs within the workplace. We can characterize workplaces according to a typology in which the key dimensions are commitment to abate harm through participatory management practices and the effectiveness and efficiency of harm containment through programs such as employee assistance and health promotion. The most health‐promoting and cost‐avoiding workplaces foster high control, high reward conditions and support employees with employee assistance and health promotion programs. The policy implications of this observation are drawn out.

Keywords

Citation

Shain, M. (1999), "The role of the workplace in the production and containment of health costs: the case of stress‐related disorders", Leadership in Health Services, Vol. 12 No. 2, pp. 1-7. https://doi.org/10.1108/13660759910266775

Publisher

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MCB UP Ltd

Copyright © 1999, MCB UP Limited