HEALTHY LIVING
08/20/2011 11:16 am ET Updated Oct 20, 2011

Is Your Job Stressful? Tips for Beating Office Stress

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With the economy the way it is, most people are grateful to have a paycheck. While the paycheck can provide you the lifestyle you are accustomed to, it may have some extra burdens attached to it, too. A recent study showed that 31 percent of the labor force consider their jobs “stressful.” Those most at risk for having a high stress job were women and people who work in management. Looks like the old adage was correct: “More money, more problems.”

Of those that considered their jobs stressful, the majority of them were women. Another point is that workers with strained marriages were more likely to classify their jobs as stressful. Their problems from home were likely to follow them to the office. Management also had a difficult time handling stress, whereas those who were just employees stated that their jobs were less stressful due to having fewer demands.

There are some solutions to the problem of workplace stress, as it is becoming increasingly more well-known. Here are a few handy tricks to productively blow off some stress:

1. Get out and play: Take the opportunity to get out and enjoy yourself. Have lunch outside, take a walk in the park, or even feed the ducks. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the office, but making some time to have fun can help put things into perspective.

2. Go green. A company that exercises environmental awareness makes for happier employees. While topics such as recycling and conservation might not seem to relate to compensation and diversity, when such green factors were high within a company, so was employee satisfaction with their pay and workplace.

3. Work from home. Maybe you need a break from the cubicle or maybe you’re just more productive when you can wear bunny slippers without shame. Whatever the reason, people who work from home are happier than those who commute.

4. Make sure you gel with your boss. The effectiveness of your boss might have as much to do with your own personality as his or hers. Friendly employees do not work well for angry bosses. However, angry people with a less-than-friendly disposition actually thrive under stricter form of management.

Stress at the workplace can be difficult, but with the right tools, it can be manageable and possibly avoided all together. It’s also important to know that just because a job pays well doesn’t mean it’s for you. Unemployed people are happier than those with bad jobs, after all.

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Stress Levels Related to Employee Satisfaction
Summary
There has been scarce research on the association among perceived responsibilities, the nature of work and job stress. This study attempted to examine if there was any relationship between these factors. Results showed that 18 percent of the tested individuals rated their work as “highly stressful.” It was found that those who had reasonable job satisfaction did not feel that their jobs were stressful. Stress perception tends to rise when workers feel they have to work longer hours or when the responsibilities at work become greater.

Introduction
“Workers are increasingly exposed to stressful work environments as a result of changing work expectations including tighter deadlines, constant and almost instantaneous communication and increased production targets set with seemingly little consideration for individual workload.” Figures show that nearly 31 percent of the Canadian workforce suffers from job-related stress and this raises the risk of mental and physical disorders amongst them. There has been very little research that looks into the relationship between perceived responsibilities at work, type of work and job stress. Researchers believe that this knowledge is important in developing effective ways that target both the person and the environment to reduce job-related stress.

Methodology
The study included 2,737 workers who were aged 18 to 65 and had been employed for at least one year prior to the study. The participants were all interviewed over telephone between August and November 2009.
The questions focused on “perceived stress” related to work, responsibility associated with work, working extra hours, variability in work hours and work satisfaction.

Results
Of the participants, 18 percent “considered their job as being associated with high stress.” Of the stressed group, only 34 percent were men, 7 percent were under 25 years of age, 10 percent were single and 2 percent did not have high school degrees.

Results showed that 17 percent of the participants had marital issues and as many as 58 percent of those who worked as managers or professionals thought that their jobs were associated with high stress.
Among those who perceive that they have high stress work, there were lower proportions of people who are satisfied with their jobs. These accounted for 66 percent of the study population.

Of the people who report high stress at work, 25 percent thought their performance at work could affect their colleagues; 11 percent thought it would affect the environment and 32 percent believed it would affect the company profits.

Next steps

Authors admit that self perception and reporting of stress at work may not have been accurate. Also the study was taken as a snap shot, and long-term assessment of stress was not planned in the study design. Hence, the cause of the stress could not be analyzed. Another major shortcoming was that there were more women than men in the study. This could have skewed the results. Finally, the interviews were conducted only among people who owned a telephone hence including only a particular class of people. Further studies should explore the association between job stress and productivity and health status.

Conclusion

In this study the researchers note “that there are a number of factors that are associated with experiencing high work stress. Among them are being a manager/professional and being more engaged with work.” In other words, the higher the responsibility or connectedness to others, the higher the stress levels were perceived. People who believed their jobs in the workplace to affect others, those who had stress factors from their personal lives (such as a “disrupted marriage”) and also those who were required to work additional hours, felt their level of stress at work was very high. “This is an important finding for employers, offering insight into where interventions may be targeted.”

For More Information:

Relationships between Job Stress and Worker Perceived Responsibilities and Job Characteristics

Publication Journal: The International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, January 2011

By C. S. Dewa PhD; A. H. Thompson; Work and Well-being Research and Evaluation Program, Center for Addiction and Mental Health; the Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada; and the Institute for Health Economics, Alberta, Canada

*FYI Living Lab Reports Are Summaries of the Original Research.

Twitter: Try working from home a couple of days a week to reduce stress. Job flexibility improves mood. Via @FYILiving