Work source of stress for most people, survey finds
While many Americans are happy to have jobs, most are stressed out about something at work and even more stressed than they were just a year ago.
The most common stress triggers for workers are unreasonable workloads, low pay, commutes and annoying co-workers, according to a newly released 2013 Work Stress Survey by Harris Interactive for Everest College, a trade- and career-oriented school with locations in 23 states and Canada.
“The economy has improved, but choices employers made three and four years ago are starting to impact employees,” said John Swartz, regional director of career services at Everest College. “(Employers) put a Band-Aid on issues, and now we're paying the price. Now we're at a breaking point, and people are frustrated and stressed out.”
In the survey, a whopping 83 percent of American workers said they are stressed out by at least one thing at work, up sharply from 73 percent in 2012. Other stressors include lack of opportunity for advancement, fear of being laid off, poor work/life balance and working in a job that was not the person's chosen career.
Swartz said the survey results show that top management needs to start a dialogue with employees and talk about stress.
“If 83 percent of workers are stressed, someone will reach a breaking point,” Swartz said.
Employers have a lot at stake when their workforce is highly stressed: The Harris survey mirrors findings by the American Psychological Association — which also showed that most Americans listed work as a significant source of stress — and indicated that their work productivity suffered.
Yuni Navarro, senior vice president and head of human resources for Ocean Bank in Miami, realizes that job stress is a concern for her employees.
“Any organization that went through a reduction in workforce needs to look at the increases in stress and invest in wellness,” she said.
Because of major restructuring during the recession, the bank is operating with a pared-down workforce. Recently, it made two moves to address possible burnout. First, it initiated a wellness program that includes health screenings, a weight loss competition, a new wellness center, exercise classes and lunch workshops on how to manage priorities. Second, all managers have been tasked with trying to improve processes to cut down on unnecessary work that might be overloading employees.
That has been helpful,” Navarro said.
Matthew Casey, a vice president with business training company SmartTeam, said the job-stress people are experiencing is a result, in part, of the pressures of today's connected world. Because of email, cell hones and the Internet, Americans are finding it increasingly difficult to switch off the stresses of the workplace and deflect unreasonable workloads.
“People are getting more stressed out over work because of the expectation of constant availability,” Casey said. “Some employers are directly addressing it, and some aren't. Some employees know how to cope and some don't. What is important is to learn how to effectively manage your stress, so you can perform at your best both at home and at work.”
The survey found a difference in responses by women versus men: 18 percent of women said that low pay was the most stressful aspect of their job, while only 10 percent of men said pay was the cause.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.