While a meaningful challenge can inspire and motivate us, a chronically stressful work environment that gives us no sense of personal control can undermine our health. Research has associated such a stressful workplace with high blood pressure, depression, and a variety of stress-related illnesses (Karasek, & Theorell, 1990; Karren, Smith, & Gordon, 2014). Stressful workplaces are often less productive. As researchers Robert Karasek and Töres Theorell predicted, “unless many present models of economic and production organization are changed, the future will see not only a progressively poorer trade-off of health for productivity but many situations in which both are needlessly lost” (1990, p.2).

How healthy is your workplace?
Find out by answering the following statements with “Yes” or “No”:

                                                                                                     YES                NO

1. My job enables me to use and develop my strengths.                     

2.I take part in long-range planning and can work flexible hours.                                                                                            

3. I have a sense of control at work and don’t feel dominated by external demands and deadlines                                         

 4. I work in a cooperative environment and have a say about the demand that are placed on me.                                                                   

  5. We have a strong sense of teamwork and mutual support at work.   

  6. If I have a problem at work, I know that people will listen and support me in solving it. We have fair and democratic procedures for handling grievances.       

 7. I find a sense of meaning in my work.                                               

 8. I am rarely bored. Routine work is mixed with new challenges that keep work exciting.                                                             

 9. My manager treats me with respect.                                                  

 10. I can integrate my job with my home and community life.After work, I have time and energy left for the rest of my life.                

Scoring: Add up the number of “YES” items and multiply by 10. For example, if your score is 8, your workplace is 80% healthy/20% stressful. If your score is 5, it is 50% healthy/50% stressful.

What did you learn from this?

  • In what areas does your workplace support your health?
  • In what areas does it undermine it?
  • And, finally, what can you do about it?


Karasek, R. & Theorell, T. (1990). Healthy Work. New York, NY: Basic Books. Healthy workplace quiz based on material in chapters 1-4.

Karren, K. J., Smith, N. L., & Gordon, K. J. (2014). Mind/Body Health: The Effects of Attitudes, Emotions, and Relationships. (5th ed.). New York, NY: Pearson. Healthy workplace quiz based on material on pp.54-55.


Diane Dreher is a best-selling author, personal coach, and professor at Santa Clara University. Her latest book is Your Personal Renaissance: 12 Steps to Finding Your Life’s True Calling.

Follow Diane on Twitter: Diane Dreher (@dianedreher) on Twitter

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