Workzone: Study finds stress still a big part of work lives


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Everest College recently released its second annual Work Stress Survey, which found that nearly 75 percent of employed Americans "are stressed out on the job for one reason or another."

Which immediately begs the question: What kind of jobs do the other 25 percent have, and where do we apply?

Most of us have come to understand that stress is part of the job, a big reason why we refer to it as "work" and not "play." Also unsurprisingly, given the state of the national economy, is that the surveyed workers say their biggest stressor is a lagging paycheck.

But employers should not take the issue of stressed workers lightly, say the folks at Everest, a California-based private, for-profit post-secondary education company with branches throughout the U.S., including in Downtown.

"Anxiety among employees reduces productivity, lessens job satisfaction, lowers morale and has a negative impact on health," said John Swartz, regional director of career services at Everest College.

"If they have employees who are stressed, that's going to lead to negative turnover, which is ultimately going to cost their business," he said.

Here's how the stress list breaks down in the Everest survey:

After anemic paychecks (11 percent of those surveyed), workers say they are most stressed by annoying co-workers (10 percent), their commute (9 percent), an unreasonable workload (also 9 percent), lack of opportunities for advancement (5 percent) and their boss (4 percent).

Other than variations in the order, odds are that most of us have the same Top 5 or 6.

Meanwhile, the survey does hold a bit of good news: Only 4 percent of the 898 workers in the June telephone survey say they're worried about getting fired or laid off, down from 9 percent a year ago.

The national survey found some regional differences: Workers in the northeast U.S. are more likely than their southern counterparts to say they're stressed by what they consider an unreasonable workload, while those in the West say they're more stressed than their Midwestern colleagues about not working a job in their chosen career path.

Gender, educational and socioeconomic differences showed up, too. Women were more likely than men to cite low pay as their main stressor, and were more likely to say their job did not fall within their chosen career path.

Those with a high school diploma or less education also were stressed about pay, while college grads felt most pressured by their workload.

Who is the least stressed? Most come from households with yearly incomes exceeding $100,000, although Mr. Swartz said that doesn't necessarily mean they have stress-free jobs.

"Maybe they've made some lifestyle changes on the personal side," he said. "Just because you're in a stressful job doesn't mean you have to be stressed. Stress is a choice we make every day."

And, in the end, even the most stressful job is less stressful than not being able to find a job.

businessnews - datelinepittsburgh - employment

Steve Twedt: stwedt@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1963. First Published September 9, 2012 4:00 AM


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