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SECRETARIES SUFFER MORE STRESS THAN OTHERS, PUTTING HEALTH AT RISK; LACK OF APPRECIATION, SELF-ESTEEM, EXACERBATES THE PROBLEM

 SECRETARIES SUFFER MORE STRESS THAN OTHERS, PUTTING HEALTH AT RISK;
 LACK OF APPRECIATION, SELF-ESTEEM, EXACERBATES THE PROBLEM
 PLYMOUTH, Mich., April 13 /PRNewswire/ -- It is Secretaries' Day, so the boss has arranged to take her secretary to lunch (although she has asked her to make the reservations), and perhaps she'll have flowers delivered. But chances are she'll be barking orders at her before she's even back at her desk, and what's even worse than that, she's likely to take it and suffer in silence.
 These are some of the unfortunate conclusions arrived at in a survey of more than 1,012 members of the Professional Secretaries Association conducted by Lorraine Colletti-Lafferty, Ph.D., vice chairperson of Plymouth-based Human Synergistics, Inc., an international human resource training materials publisher and consulting firm, and Diane B. Hartman, M.S., associate vice president of Prime Learning International, a training firm based in Alpine, Utah.
 When they began their research, the first thing that struck them was how little, if any, information there was on the subject. "Nobody seemed to be thinking very much about them," observed Dr. Colletti- Lafferty, "and, as we found out, that unfortunately includes the secretaries themselves."
 Through the use of a detailed inventory developed by Human Synergistics called the Stress Processing Report, Colletti-Lafferty and Hartman were able to identify those patterns of thought that act as "stress insulators," as well as those that operate as "stress conductors." The results are stunningly clear: This sector of the service economy suffers enormous stress, which is causing them dangerous health consequences.
 "We found that secretaries, as a group, are highly committed employees: extremely loyal and desirous of doing the best job possible," said Dr. Colletti-Lafferty. "Unfortunately, their tendency for low self-esteem and deep approval and dependency needs is largely at the root of their stress -- which manifests itself in extraordinarily high rates of physical symptoms ranging from backaches to serious illness."
 Eighty-seven percent of those surveyed complained of chronic and extreme fatigue and 74 percent reported being depressed (the national average is 10 percent). While on the job, 86 percent report significant and sustained feelings of apprehension and 72 percent say that they often feel angry for no apparent reason. These symptoms of stress are often the precursor to more serious illnesses, such as migraine headaches, tumors and cardiovascular problems. Yet this group misses, on the average, one day of work each year due to illness. "They suffer in silence," said Dr. Colletti-Lafferty.
 Sixty-two percent of the respondents reported low back pain. "So many have backaches that are simply the result of not being given a comfortable chair," said Dr. Colletti-Lafferty, "and what makes this worse, of course, is that some of these individuals don't even have enough self-esteem to ask for one -- let alone demand it." These health problems may continue to get worse: 43 percent report eating a significant amount of "junk" food (the national norm is 38 percent), while 39 percent say that exercise is not a part of their daily routine (24 percent nationally are sedentary). There are also external forces that may mean future difficulties: many secretarial and other support staff personnel are experiencing increased responsibilities (respondents reported an average of six to eight new responsibilities per year) as middle-management jobs are declining as a result of the current "downsizing" trend in business. There is no indication, however, that increased training needs are being met. This serves to increase anxiety, as well as turnover rates, which further decreases productivity.
 One bright spot for secretaries is that despite their other problems, they are an extremely warm and friendly group, and have no trouble making friends. Not withstanding their friendly demeanor and their willingness to please, nobody seems willing to stand up for them: Secretaries have no lobby, are not a visible group, and have no financial clout.
 "When is the last time you heard of a company sending its secretaries to a two-day self-improvement seminar?" asked Dr. Colletti- Lafferty. Yet, as Secretaries' Week approaches, that is exactly one of the things Human Synergistics is offering to assist secretaries in dealing with their extraordinary amount of stress. Their two-day program is called SCOPE, System for Creating Organizational and Personal Effectiveness. Human Synergistics also offers a stress-reduction kit, priced at $29.95, which includes the Stress Processing Report, a detailed self-help manual, and an audiotape to guide a participant through the process. "This is the ideal gift to give your secretary," said Dr. Colletti-Lafferty. "Let her know you really care about her well-being."
 To order, call 1-800-622-7584, or fax your order to 313-459-5557.
 -0- 4/13/92
 /CONTACT: Dr. Lorraine Colletti-Lafferty of Human Synergistics, 313-459-1030/ CO: Human Synergistics, Inc.; Prime Learning International ST: Michigan, Utah IN: SU:


SB-ML -- DEFNS1 -- 7518 04/13/92 07:33 EDT
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Date:Apr 13, 1992
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