In the olden days, going to work meant an hour-long commute at the most. After a while, as traffic issues increased in frequency and intensity, psychologists and other experts in the field began drawing the attention of the general public to the threats it poses to one’s emotional balance and stability. They slowly began to realize that commuting for long periods of time was conducive to an entire host of emotional, behavioural, and even cognitive issues. These issues ranged from milder ones, such as stress, to an inability to efficiently handle anxiety, followed by a cycle of depression, and more disruptive behavioural patterns, such as anger issues.
In today’s labour market, however, the situation has been even further complicated by economic uncertainty and shaky prospects for nabbing and then keeping a rewarding job. In a day and age where the world is recovering from the global financial crisis, workers’ lives are growing increasingly complex, as well as marred by previously under-reported issues. These issues emerge as labourers report lifestyle patterns previously unheard of. For instance, nowadays over 20 per cent of all Australian children hail from households in which both parents are working. According to 2011 data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 21 per cent of children have both parents at work all day. This often leads to them feeling neglected, since they get to spend less time with their parents than their peers fifty years ago did. In turn, they develop behavioural issues that can range from compulsive behaviours to various addictions.
In recent news, Lifeline Western Australia announced in early October that it would embark in a countrywide study on the lifestyles of fly-in, fly-out professionals (also known as FIFO) in Australia. The research is still underway, and if you are one such worker, you can partake in the study at the project’s website. Thus far, the research report, which has recruited the analytical skills of several professors and graduate students at Murdoch University, has come as far as to amass enough data for two preliminary research summaries. One explores the development of organisational commitment of FIFO workers, while the other attempts to gauge the level of satisfaction with such a lifestyle, by analysing responses from the workers’ families. The second report polled 245 FIFO workers and 314 of their partners. While the main conclusion was that, overall, satisfaction levels were moderately high, the study also revealed that the amount of stress experienced by FIFO employees and their partners was closely connected to whether or not they had children.
According to the summary, the workers were mostly satisfied with their rosters and relationships, while their partners expressed a comparatively lower level of satisfaction – especially in the case of those with children aged 6 to 12. Surprisingly enough, however, the most elevated reports of stress came from workers’ partners with no children. Also, these findings indicate that elevated stress and anger management could soon become issues these workers and their families have to deal with. Psychotherapy experts point to the fact that, while anger is a normal emotion, controlling it is essential to living a balanced and fulfilled life. Otherwise, if released at inappropriate times or in inadequate contexts, anger is likely to harm the sufferer as much as the people he or she lashes out at.
Anger issues develop against the background of excessive amounts of stress, and recent research undertaken at a global level indicates that one of the primary sources of stress is one’s career. Workers who are subjected to constant pressure, either on the job or during activities connected to the job (as is the case with FIFO workers) can soon find themselves experiencing burnout. This will develop into a lack of productivity, at first, but risks affecting one’s social behaviours as well – anger issues include getting worked up over minor matters and feeling the irrepressible urge to cause emotional, verbal, or even physical harm.