STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (WTAJ) — A new study at Penn State has linked heart health with your workplace’s flexibility, especially in older adults.
The Work Family and Health Network did a deep dive into how the place your work could be affecting you, both mentally and physically.
The team conducted a months-long study a real workplace intervention as they aimed to improve employees’ health.
“We found that that was important because work-family conflict, personal life conflict with work can reduce productivity, make people more likely to change their jobs or job turnover and can cause stress and problems with physical and mental health,” Orfeu Buxton, Professor of Bio-Behavioral Health at Penn State.
So, how did they do this? Well, they focused on creating a positive culture at work.
Penn State studied 1,528 employees, measuring their blood pressure, body mass index, cholesterol and more. The researchers then used this health information to calculate a cardiometabolic risk score (CRS) for each employee, with a higher score indicating a higher estimated risk of developing cardiovascular disease within a decade.
“We trained supervisors to be more supportive,” Buxton said. “We also trained employees to reduce work and personal life conflict.”
Doing this allowed employees to focus on scheduling their work for specific times while also limiting it from bleeding into their personal lives.
“The results of the intervention were that there was an improvement in cardiovascular disease risk with the intervention in those who had higher baseline risk,” Buxton said.
In the study, employees who were designated mid-life or older experienced a reduction in their risk of cardiovascular disease equivalent to between 5 to 10 years of age-related changes.
“Managers are people too and everybody knows that a positive culture can lead to a sense of purpose achieved whereas unnecessary stress and conflict do not,” Buxton said.
A full breakdown of the study can be found on Penn State’s website.