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What’s Stressing Your Employees Out—and What Can You Do About It?

September 26th, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

Summer’s over, and the workplace is stressful. At least, that’s the conclusion of the 2012 Work Stress Survey by Harris Interactive for Everest College, which reports that 73 percent of employed Americans are stressed out at work.

Low pay was the top stress factor for the second year in a row. Eleven percent of respondents cited ranking low pay as their biggest work stressor, followed by annoying coworkers (10 percent), commuting (9 percent), an unreasonable workload (9 percent) and working outside their chosen career (8 percent).

However, survey respondents were less worried than last year about getting fired or being laid off. Just 4 percent said this was a top stressor, down from 9 percent last year. Other stress factors: 5 percent cited poor work-life balance, 4 percent said they lack opportunity for advancement, and 4 percent say the boss stresses them out.

Women and those with only high school degrees were more likely than men and college graduates to be stressed by low pay. College graduates’ top stressor, on the other hand, was “unreasonable workloads” (cited by 13 percent).

I find this hard to believe, but 26 percent say nothing stresses them out about their jobs. That’s up from last year, when 21 percent reported being stress-free. Those relaxed individuals were more likely to come from households with incomes over $100,000.

What can you do about stressed-out staffers? The key is being aware and understanding of issues facing your staff. Here are some ideas:

  • If you know lengthy commutes are a headache for many workers, consider instituting flextime, letting employees work from home one day a week, or investigating local ride-share programs.
  • Unreasonable workloads are sometimes a fact of life, but if certain employees regularly seem to have more than their fair share, take time to re-evaluate duties and responsibilities.
  • Low pay may be something you can’t change at this time, but it’s important to know that dissatisfied workers will look for a way to get the salaries they need as soon as the economy improves. Consider how else you could help employees out financially—perhaps with a bonus program, profit-sharing plan or even something as simple as offering a 401(k) program so they can take charge of their financial future.
  • Annoying coworkers can be a matter of opinion, but again, the solution is being aware of personal conflicts and taking steps to help employees resolve them before they blow out of proportion. Something as simple as moving someone’s desk, suggesting the purchase of headphones or closing a door can make the difference between camaraderie and conflict.

Image by Flickr user Alan Cleaver (Creative Commons)

The views expressed here are the author's alone and not those of Network Solutions or its partners.

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