Employees who take work trips for two weeks or more a month report anxiety, depression: new study
Traveling for business can take an emotional toll on employees.
People who take work trips two weeks or more a month report more symptoms of anxiety and depression, and are more likely to smoke, and have difficulty sleeping, compared to those who travel one to six nights a month, according to a new study by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and City University of New York.
In addition to declining mental health, the researchers found those who drink alcohol while away on business could be more likely to develop addictive tendencies and dependency than those who don’t travel as much. The study — which examined the health records of 18,328 employees who took a health assessment through their workplace corporate wellness program — also found mental health and behavior are negatively affected the more days a person is away from home.
Many people could be suffering. In 2016 alone, an estimated 503 million people were traveling for work related reasons, compared to 488 million in the previous year, according to the Global Business Travel Association Foundation.
“Although business travel can be seen as a job benefit and can lead to occupational advancement, there is a growing literature showing that extensive business travel is associated with risk of chronic diseases associated with lifestyle factors,” said Andrew Rundle, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health.
To minimize the impact of work travel on health and personal relationships, career coaches suggest having a conversation with your boss about how to reduce your time out of the office and proving that you can get ample work done.
“The goal is to demonstrate to your boss that traveling less and working from home or at the office has the potential to enhance productivity and cost savings,” career coach Roy Cohen tells Moneyish. “When you’re traveling you’re out of pocket especially during the winter so the best time to make this request is during a period of horrible weather because that’s incredibly disruptive to companies.”
When it comes to your personal life, find a way to incorporate family into time away and make a plan, Cohen suggests.
“To make it easier for yourself, you may want to consider having a meaningful conversation with significant others in your world, what can you do to create efficiencies at home so it won’t feel disruptive? Maybe occasionally you can travel with your family. Especially if you can take the trip on a it on a weekend so that way it becomes more joyful,” says Cohen.
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