Balancing Act: Most workers in survey admit to stress

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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 this new 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.

If 83 percent of workers "are stressed, someone will reach a breaking point," Mr. Swartz said. Losing a valuable employee can be expensive for an employer who faces hiring and training a replacement, he said.

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."

After major restructuring during the recession, the bank now operates with a pared-down workforce. Recently, it has made two moves to address possible burnout. First it initiated a major wellness program that includes health screenings, a weight loss competition, a new wellness center, exercise classes and lunch workshops on how to manage priorities. Also, all managers have recently been tasked with trying to improve processes to streamline them and cut down on unnecessary work that might be overloading employees.

The survey also found a difference in responses by women vs. men: 18 percent of women said low pay was the most stressful aspect of their job, while only 10 percent of men said pay was the cause.

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Cindy Krischer Goodman is CEO of BalanceGal LLC:


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