Stress: Is It Getting to You?

It's worse than ever, say a large majority of readers who took our survey. Their top concern? Job security

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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