Workplace Stress Burdens Most Employees, Survey Reveals

Posted By Terri Williams on March 8, 2017 at 8:56 am
Workplace Stress Burdens Most Employees, Survey Reveals

Culture, pivot, and emotional intelligence rank high as 2017 workplace buzzwords, but stress seems to be the word that describes more than half of employees. That’s according to two surveys.

An Accountemps survey reveals that 60% of employees are at least somewhat stressed and believe that their work-related stress levels have increased during the past five years.

The top 5 causes of workplace stress:

33% Heavy workload/looming deadlines
22% Unrealistic expectations of managers/supervisors
22% Attaining work-life balance
15% Coworker conflicts
8% Other


A CareerCast survey reveals that 71% of employees have higher than moderate work-related stress levels, and 59% say they would abandon their job for one that is less stressful.

The top 5 stressors listed in this survey:

30% Deadlines
17% Lives of another at risk
10% Competitiveness
8.40% Physical demands
5% Working in the public eye


Other reasons for boiling workplace stress include lack of growth potential, life at risk, hazards encountered, meeting the public, travel, and environmental conditions.

There may also be other issues depending on the segment of the population. For example, millennial and Gen Z women report a variety of workplace woes, including bullying and sexism.

What causes workplace stress?

Employees in both surveys ranked deadlines as the top work-related stressor. Mike Steinitz, executive director of Accountemps, tells GoodCall® he believes that many of the stressors may be interrelated. “When juggling multiple projects with imminent deadlines and rushing to finish projects, you may find that you are making more mistakes than usual.”

Steinitz believes that it’s important to speak up: “Every industry experiences busy periods when demands intensify, workloads rise, and deadline pressure mounts.” For employees who feel overwhelmed, he recommends asking the boss to consider securing additional help.  “Many employers hire temporary staff as a way to prevent their core team from suffering from work burnout,” Steinitz says.

When a manager has unrealistic expectations, he believes it is also better in speak in this situation as well. “Ask your manager to help you prioritize projects; it may be that he or she was unaware of all the tasks on your plate.” Steinitz says your manager may shift work to others or at least adjust the deadlines.

Some problems are not as easy to solve. For example, a recent report on the great jobs of 2017 includes several medical positions in which professionals may be subject to routine situations that involve life and death situations with patients. Firefighters and police officers live with this burden, too.

However, Steinitz recommends the following strategies to help keep stress at bay:

  • Give yourself something to look forward to, such as a vacation after the busy season.
  • During the workday, take short breaks to let your mind rest and recharge.
  • If possible, exercise regularly and eat healthy foods to help you feel energized.

If you’re a manager, he says it’s important to set a good example for direct reports by modeling these strategies and creating a culture that encourages them to follow your lead.

Dr. Joel Bennett, president of Organizational Wellness & Learning Systems and author of Raw Coping Power: From Stress to Thriving, tells GoodCall® that his book shares more than 30 tools for coping with stress. “However, one of my favorite tools for employees is the ‘Tell Your Resilience Story’ strategy.”

Bennett explains, “Very often, the stress comes from an ‘Ain’t It Awful’ attitude or from negativity, complaints, and drama.” While the complaints may be valid and require assistance from human resources, he believes that employees should take a proactive approach. “When coworkers talk about their favorite super-hero, their own recovery from crisis, or some other personal hero in their life, it lifts everyone’s spirits.” And he says hearing these stories can encourage others to channel this stress into strength.”

Terri Williams
Terri Williams graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her education, career, and business articles have been featured on Yahoo! Education, U.S. News & World Report, The Houston Chronicle, and in the print edition of USA Today Special Edition. Terri is also a contributing author to "A Practical Guide to Digital Journalism Ethics," a book published by the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago.

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