9 in 10 employees say workplace more stressful since recession: Survey

Staff cutbacks, heavier workloads to blame
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 04/01/2013

Nine out of 10 employees say their workplace is more stressful compared to five years ago, according to a new poll of nearly 600 U.S. and Canadian workers by Right Management.

One-quarter (74 per cent) of North American workers strongly agree with the statement that their workplace is more stressful, while 18 per cent somewhat agree. Just six per cent disagree.

“We expect, to a degree, that most people would say they are feeling more pressure when asked about such workplace issues,” said Monika Morrow, senior vice-president of career management at Right Management.

“But there’s no ambiguity or uncertainty about the latest findings. Nearly everybody thinks stress has grown over the past five years… in other words since the recession began. That prolonged economic downturn prompted staff cutbacks, curtailed training and development initiatives, reduced opportunities for career advancement and made for heavier workloads all around.”

Most employees have been expected to make a greater contribution, Morrow said.

“In many cases, operations have been streamlined, head count is lower, competition greater and the outcome has been more pressure felt at all levels of the workplace. But understanding these realities don’t make it any easier to deal with or succeed in the situation.”

According to Morrow, management has also been hard pressed since the recession.

“At the upper levels there’s relentless focus on results and earnings, and this stress is translated throughout the organization. And at the same time management is expected to cheer on a discontented workforce.”

Organizations should avoid denial when concerns about workplace stress are raised, said Morrow.

“Ignoring the problem may only complicate a difficult situation. What management must do is acknowledge the heavier burdens and make efforts to have them shared fairly. Expectations must be clarified, and priorities rationalized.”

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