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Survey: Three-in-Four Workers Suffer Stress on the Job

10 Ways to Beat It
Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources for CareerBuilder.com

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Workers are feeling frazzled at work, thanks to a culture of heavy workloads, longer schedules, less time spent at home and fewer vacation days. More than half of workers said they work under a great deal of stress, and 77 percent said they feel burnout on the job, according to a nationwide survey by CareerBuilder.com.

What's the culprit? Workers most often blame colleagues for their office anxiety, with 16 percent citing difficult co-workers as their primary cause of stress at work. Other top workplace stressors included:

  • Unrealistic workload (15 percent)

  • Tight deadlines (11 percent)

  • Last-minute projects (10 percent)

  • Overbearing or interfering boss (9 percent)


  • High-pressure work environments are taking their toll on workers' morale. Twenty-three percent of workers say they frequently or constantly feel burnout at work. This can be detrimental to both workers, whose health and career progress may suffer, and employers, who pick up the tab in higher insurance costs and lost productivity.

    Your job performance isn't the only thing hurting. Stress and burnout can affect your immune system and has been linked to migraines, digestive disorders, skin diseases, high blood pressure and heart disease. It causes emotional distress as well.

    Here are some signs you're cracking under work's pressure:
  • Your co-workers are walking on eggshells around you.

  • You come in late and want to leave earlier.

  • Apathy has replaced enthusiasm.

  • You've lost camaraderie with co-workers.

  • You're feeling physically sick.


  • If you recognize these signs or feel overwhelmed by work, here are some ways to ease the pain:

    Organize and prioritize.
    Tackle the more difficult and important tasks first each day to ensure you have time to complete them. Before you leave work, take a few minutes to clean up your workspace and create the next day's to-do list.

    Manage expectations.
    Set reasonable short-term and long-term goals for yourself. When promising work to others, underpromise and overdeliver to prevent deadline crunches.

    Put down the "Crackberry."
    Set aside a certain period each day devoted to returning e-mails and voicemail messages. That way, you won't be constantly interrupted.

    Don't neglect your health.
    Getting plenty of sleep, drinking water, eating nutritiously and getting exercise will help you feel in control and do wonders for your mood.

    Identify the culprit.
    What's causing the most stress in your life? Deadlines at work? Trying to fulfill both work and household responsibilities? Pinpointing the source of your stress is the first step to combatting it.

    Don't sweat the small stuff.
    Recognize what you can and cannot change. You're already tense. You'll make yourself crazier rushing for that 5:35 p.m. train -- simply catch the next train and save yourself some grief.

    Lose those unrealistic expectations.
    You're not Superman or Wonder Woman -- so don't try to be. Setting unrealistic goals only dooms you to failure, which fuels your stress levels. Try splitting a larger, seemingly insurmountable goal into smaller, more reachable targets.

    Have some downtime.
    Regularly scheduled breaks give you a chance to rejuvenate physically, emotionally and mentally. So take a moment to get up and stretch, stare out the window or go for a short walk.

    Delegate.
    Don't try to be a hero. Effective managers delegate and don't micromanage. At home, hire someone to help with household chores or get your spouse and children to pitch in.

    Eliminate distractions.
    If you're under an extreme deadline, close your office door and let your phone calls go to voicemail to deter interruptions. You're more likely to finish a project on time and be less harried if you focus all your attention on completing the task.


    Rosemary Haefner is the Vice President of Human Resources for CareerBuilder.com. She is an expert in recruitment trends and tactics, job seeker behavior, workplace issues, employee attitudes and HR initiatives.

    Last Updated: 24/09/2007 - 3:50 PM


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