Survey Finds Increase in Workplace Stress

April 14, 2013

Capitol Hill recognized National Stress Awareness Month on April 1 with a series of panel discussions. It was 2008, during the onset of the recession, when the House and Senate passed resolutions raising awareness of workplace wellness, reported The timing may seem ironic, but now in an increasingly 24/7 global marketplace, organizations like the American Psychological Association and the U.S. Workplace Wellness Alliance are sounding alarms about how a stressed workplace hinders company growth and success.

Beyond triggering or exacerbating personal health issues like heart conditions, hypertension and diabetes, chronic stress harmfully impacts presenteeism, creativity, productivity and innovation, according to the U.S. Workplace Wellness Alliance.

And stress is on the rise. The third annual Work Stress Survey, conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Everest College, polled 1,019 employed Americans by phone. The results found a significant increase from last year’s survey—83 percent versus 73 percent said they were under extreme stress at work, reported the Huffington Post.

Poor compensation and an unreasonable workload ranked as the No. 1 stressors, both at 14 percent. Other stressors included frustration with coworkers or commutes, both 11 percent; working in a job that is not one's career of choice, 8 percent; poor work-life balance, 7 percent; lack of opportunity for advancement, 6 percent; and fear of being fired or laid off, 4 percent.

Twice as many women (18 percent) as men (10 percent) cited low pay as their primary job-related stressor—a finding that echoes the National Partnership For Women and Families’ recent report that the gender wage gap still exists and hasn’t changed much since the 1980s. The release of the Work Stress Survey coincided with Equal Pay Day.

Age was also a factor in reported stress levels with the Baby Boomer generation and older Americans being the least affected by work stress. About 38 percent of American workers age 65 or older responded nothing about work stresses them out—a drastically higher rate than any other age group.

According to the American Psychological Association Center for Organizational Health, companies need to reduce workplace stress by shifting their culture toward valuing employees, their work, their voices and their health.