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Post Style: Slow down, you move too fast; There is an illness which is to the 90s what so-called Yuppie Flu was to the 80s. Hurry sickness is a sign of office stress, reports Jo Ind.

Do you habitually drive over the speed limit? Do you find yourself rushing to be first in the line even when there is no need?

If so, you might be suffering from hurry sickness.

Hurry sickness is a form of stress identified by Gardner Merchant, a contract caterer which also provides services like shops and gymnasiums to companies.

Gardner Merchant did research with around 10,000 people from around the UK in order to assess the developing needs of British businesses.

Mr Phil Hooper, sales and marketing director, said: "We became aware of hurry sickness as a phenomenon.

"People kept saying that they were time pressured. Companies were asking us to provide services which would ease the time pressures on their staff."

Hurry sickness is a particular form of stress in which people become so used to rushing at work, they end up feeling they have to rush even when it is not necessary.

As a form of stress, it can easily lead to illness.

An IOM survey has found that everyday in the UK 270,000 individuals take time off work due to job-related stress at an annual cost of pounds 7 billion.

Half a million employees today believe they are suffering from work-related stress, according to Management Today, and a third of managers cite the sheer pressure of work as a prime cause for staff turnover.

Ironically one of the reasons why people are believed to be hurrying more is due to increasingly sophisticated technology. Mobile phones, e-mail and fax machines have not made life less pressurised.

They have changed the goal posts in terms of what is expected in a work environment creating a demand for things to happen instantly.

"My experience as a businessman is that companies have become leaner and meaner," said Phil, "and people's home lives are much more complicated these days."

This is partly because women are increasingly having jobs which are considered as important as their husbands, so more juggling needs to take place if a child is sick or someone needs to be in when a man calls to repair the washing machine.

"It only take one thing to go wrong and everything collapses around you," says Phil.

The increase in divorce and separation also means that people are having to make time for more than one set of children.

All of these things put people under more pressure and can contribute to hurry sickness.

Companies are increasingly finding ways to ease the time pressures on staff.

At the Lloyds TSB training centre in Telford, Shropshire, the company provides sports facilities for its staff.

Staff go to the centre for training and to take their financial services exams but they are offered a full massage and hour-long aromatherapy sessions to ease the stress. Gardner Merchant is developing a range of services specifically to save time for employees.

They offer a service called answerpoint through which people can book theatre tickets, make travel arrangements or book meeting rooms.

It is designed so that employees say what they require and someone else does the running around for them.

Gardner Merchant provides ready-made meals so that employees working late can pick up something for supper from the office and take it home to the microwave without having to stop off at the shops on the way.

It also offers a dry cleaning service, so that clothes are collected and delivered at work saving a trip to the dry cleaners at lunchtime. Likewise there is a car valeting service so the car can be cleaned while a member of staff is working rather than having that as an extra job.

One of Gardner Merchant's more innovative initiatives is a house-sitting service.

The idea is that if someone needs to be at home to let a tradesman in, for any reason, then the company can provide someone to do that, freeing up the employee to go to work.

Before long, as well as just having an office canteen, there could be an office dry cleaning service, office aromatherapist, office car cleaner and office florist.

Ultimately, however imaginative these little perks might be, they will probably only have the effect of creating more of a rush by moving the goalposts again.

A more radical solution is for people to make a choice to work less hard.


DO you typically drive more than five miles per hour over the speed limit?

DO you interrupt others and finish their sentences?

DO you get impatient in meetings when someone goes off at a tangent?

DO you find it difficult to respect people who are chronically late?

DO you rush to be first in line, even when it doesn't matter, for example getting off an aeroplane first in order to stand at the baggage claim longer?

DO you get impatient and leave or demand service if you have to wait more than a few minutes for service in a shop or restaurant?

DO you generally view as less capable those who are slower to speak, act or decide than you?

DO you often rush or hurry your children or spouse?

DO you pride yourself on getting things done on time and sacrifice the chance to improve a product if it means being late?
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Title Annotation:National
Author:Ind, Jo
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jul 21, 1999
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