NPR Survey Sheds Light On Workplace Stress

July 27, 2016

A recent survey by the National Public Radio, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health revealed a number of insights on employees’ perceptions of health problems, experiences, issues, and challenges in the workplace.  The survey focused on the United States and sought to answer seven questions:

  1. What relationship do adults see between their workplace and their health?
  2. What health benefits are offered to workers to improve their personal health, do workers use these benefits, and what are the reasons why they use or do not use these benefits?
  3. What are the experiences of those who are working while they are sick or are caring for sick family members?
  4. How does the workplace affect the health of different types of workers, including shift workers, workers in dangerous jobs, disabled workers, and workers in low-paying jobs?
  5. How do jobs impact workers’ levels of stress?
  6. How do adults rate their workplace in terms of supporting their health?
  7. How do paid vacation benefits in the U.S. compare to Europe?

The entire report is worth reviewing, but this blog post is going to focus on some of the interesting statistics around employee stress.

Workplace Stress Impacts The Majority
A majority of working adults (59%) said their current job has an impact on their stress.  43% said their job is bad for their stress level.  Individuals working in the restaurant and medical fields were the most impacted by work stress with 54% and 52% reporting their job as bad for their stress level.  Almost the majority of office employees (46%) reported similar feelings about their jobs.

Workaholics And Stress
A majority of survey respondents who work more than 50 hours per week (57%) said their job has a bad impact on their stress level, while 45% say it has a bad impact on their sleeping habits, and 43% say it has a bad impact on their eating habits.  So why do these individuals work so many hours?  A majority of these workers said they do so because it’s important for their career (56%) to work longer hours while 50% and 37% say they enjoy it or for financial reasons, respectively.  Despite the amount of stress caused by excessive hours, 49% of those who work more than 50 hours per week said their workload made it too hard to take a vacation (or de-stress).

There are other great stress and non-stress related statistics in the document, and a review of the information will identify that work-life balance continues to drain our workforce.  Regardless of the reason, “always on” cultures have employees working longer hours and never being able to disconnect from work.  As a result, productivity worsens and turnover increases, both of which have large and very tangible impacts on business success.  Employers often try to identify wellness programs to help employees cope or manage stress, but perhaps the solution is a culture change that allows employees to disconnect and recharge.

Topics: Corporate Wellness

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