Today’s working climate can be stressful. In fact, according to a 2010 workplace stress survey reported by Statistics Canada, 62% of working aged adults report that ‘work’ contributed the most to the stress they are experiencing daily. More than home life, health concerns and personal problems. Certainly there may be many factors contributing to this reality, including the constant news of the economy and concerns about job loss, the work itself and working with and for people who cause you stress.
Recent research from several sources has also told us that a vast majority of today’s workers harbor the desire to quit their jobs. In a good economy this is often a signal of the opportunity for change but in a poor economy this is often a signal of the high levels worker dissatisfaction.
As part of the survey people were asked to rate their level of stress from low through to quite or extremely high. This data revealed that over two-thirds of those over the age of 30 and almost half of people in management positions perceived their work experience as either quite or extremely stressful. Going into work every day feeling quite or extremely stressed is certainly not the optimal way most people want to spend their day.
Percentage who reported work as either quite or extremely stressful by Profession and Age
Management – 46%
Professional – 38%
Technical – 37%
Clerical – 39%
Sales/Service – 34%
Blue-Collar – 33%
20-29 – 31%
30-39 – 39%
40-49 – 38%
50-64 – 38%
Living with high stress even for a short period of time has a significant impact on people’s physical, mental and emotional health. It also contributes daily to mistakes that can harm production and cost revenues. The government of Canada tells us that the cost of workplace related stress equals 12 billion dollars in health care costs, lost productivity and absenteeism each year.
The Canadian Mental Health association reported on data that tells us those between the ages of 21 and 30 rank work-life balance ahead of financial growth and achievement. Looking at all of the data there seems to be a message that as we get a little older and take on more responsibilities at work we feel the weight of more stress. As we feel more stress we often lose a little of our resilience and the cycle builds as more stress then drags us down further and quicker each time. Certainly this is not real news to most people. However, perhaps the lesson we can take away from this is that by focusing on more work-life balance, like the under 30’s are doing, we can reduce stress and reduce the cost of stress carried by everyone.