Stress: Is It Getting to You?


As the economy takes its sweet time about recovering, employees are feeling more stress on the job -- and employers are doing little to help deal with the problem. Those are the major findings of our Nov. 27 Reader Survey. Of the 700-plus readers who responded, 70% said they're feeling more stress on the job than usual, vs. 23% who said they're feeling the same level of stress as always.

Some 31% cited concerns over job security as the primary cause of increased stress, though 18% pinpointed their pace of work, and 12% blamed a confrontational work environment. Not surprisingly, given those responses, 56% think their job is less secure than it was a year ago.

Some 59% of those who participated said stress at work has affected their health, vs. 22% who said it hasn't. Some 27% cited depression as the primary result, while 17% blamed stress for the fact that they've gained weight, and 10% said their blood pressure has risen.

NO CLUE, NO HELP. Employers seem oblivious to these problems, judging by the perception of those who completed the survey. Some 61% said their employer doesn't understand the extent to which stress affects them on the job, and 67% said their employer offers no advice or training on ways to reduce stress (though 22% said their company does).

Some 25% of those who particpated -- nearly 80% of whom have either an undergraduate or advanced degree -- said they exercise more as a way to cope with stress, though others try a wide range of techniques, including taking days off, stepping away from their workstation at regular intervals, just concentrating on staying relaxed -- or working as hard as possible in hopes of making their job more secure.

Here are the full details of the survey, which as always is unscientific since anyone who wished to could participate:

Would you say that the amount of stress you feel at work these days is:

Option

Total

%

About the same as usual

164

22.62 %

Less than usual

37

5.10 %

More than usual

511

70.48 %

Not sure

13

1.79 %

What's the primary cause of stress you feel at work?

Option

Total

%

The type of work

78

10.73 %

The pace of the job

127

17.47 %

Your boss

65

8.94 %

Your co-workers

35

4.81 %

Confrontational/competitive work environment

88

12.1 %

Teamwork environment

23

3.16 %

Concerns about job security

225

30.95 %

Personal issues that spill over into work

48

6.60 %

Other

25

3.44 %

Not sure

13

1.79 %

Would you say that, compared with a year ago, your job is:

Option

Total

%

More secure

96

13.26 %

Less secure

402

55.52 %

As secure

179

24.72 %

Not sure

47

6.49 %

Has the stress you feel at work affected your health in any way?

Option

Total

%

No

155

21.44 %

Yes

425

58.78 %

Not sure

143

19.78 %

If workplace stress has affected your health, in what ways has it? (Choose all that apply)

Option

Total

%

Weight gain

135

17.13 %

Weight loss

30

3.81 %

High cholesterol

31

3.93 %

High blood pressure

79

10.03 %

Chronic minor illnesses

72

9.14 %

Depression

212

26.9 %

Marital/relationship strife

77

9.77 %

Substance abuse

28

3.55 %

Other

65

8.25 %

Workplace stress hasn't affected my health

59

7.49 %

Do you think that your employer understands the extent to which stress does -- or doesn't -- affect you on the job?

Option

Total

%

Yes

146

20.36 %

No

434

60.53 %

Don't know

137

19.11 %

Whether your company does or doesn't understand, does it offer advice or training in how to reduce stress?

Option

Total

%

Yes

164

22.71 %

No

486

67.31 %

Don't know

72

9.97 %

What are the best ways you've found to reduce stress at work? (Choose all that apply)

Option

Total

%

Exercise more

279

25.55 %

Concentrate on staying relaxed

151

13.83 %

Avoid overeating

64

5.86 %

Step away from your workstation at regular intervals

154

14.1 %

Take days off periodically

169

15.48 %

Tune out your boss or co-workers

77

7.05 %

Work as hard as possible to do well and make your job more secure

115

10.53 %

Psychotherapy

20

1.83 %

Join a substance abuse program

3

0.27 %

Other

36

3.30 %

I don't worry about stress at work

24

2.20 %

Are you a:

Option

Total

%

Man

551

76.32 %

Woman

171

23.68 %

Do you work for a:

Option

Total

%

Small company (fewer than 100 employees)

188

26.15 %

Big company (more than 100 employees)

531

73.85 %

How much education do you have?

Option

Total

%

High school degree

33

4.56 %

High school plus some college

109

15.06 %

Undergraduate degree

271

37.43 %

Graduate degree

311

42.96 %


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