Scientists announced this week that a simple saliva test can quickly show if you are overly stressed on the job and at risk of burnout. They say measuring levels of “the anti-stress hormone cortisol at different times of the day more accurately reveals stress levels than more complicated measures, including blood tests.” The study indicated, "People who were identified as having a high level of work-related stress had noticeably higher cortisol values at midday and also in the evening." It went on to say that they believe they “can use these markers for preventively identifying people who are at greater risk of burnout."
In clinical trials, researchers took morning, noon and evening saliva samples to measure cortisol. The researchers claim the results were nearly "100 percent accurate.”
Personally, I think if your employer is continually swabbing your cheeks in the office, it's no surprise that you're stressed. But that is just one of the items that makes me question this entire project.
Scientists apparently determined their results by comparing “healthy workers with burnout patients.” The burnout patients were identified by their psychologists. I worry that being identified by your mental health professional as a “burnout” would likely increase those bothersome Cortisol levels. I wonder if they got special t-shirts.
The article I read prattled on about the exorbitant costs of work related depression around the world. Frankly I found the whole thing a bit of a downer. It offered this little pearl of wisdom from the World Health Organization; "Research shows that the most stressful type of work is that which values excessive demands and pressures that are not matched to workers' knowledge and abilities."
Well, duh. Research has discovered that demanding jobs performed by poorly trained workers results in stress. Wow. I'm glad some government agency funded the little gem of a study that came up with that.
Of course, there have been other, lesser known studies trying to detect stress in the workplace. Researchers once thought they had discovered that in-office rectal exams could identify high stress levels. For some reason, however, 100% of study participants were found to be suffering from significant stress, which seemed to actually increase with the length of the research (no pun intended).
Other failed efforts that attempted to detect stress in the workplace? The Workplace Primal Scream Study, the Continually Bullied by Co-Workers Study, and the Donald Trump/Hillary Clinton/Russian Meddling/FBI Corruption Immersion Study all found extraordinary levels of workplace stress. Go figure.
And so, it seems we are stuck with the saliva test if we want to know who is under intensive stress. Compared to the options, it might prove fairly innocuous. One benefit is the relative ease with which companies could test their burnout workers. Those are the guys who have a propensity for drooling in their cubes, so collection of samples should be fairly darn easy. Also, you encounter much less resistance when collecting samples from people who have given up all hope. So, there's that, anyway.
I guess the saliva stress test is nothing to sneeze at. At least not without covering your mouth. That just stresses people.
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Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.
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