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One-third of workers’ biggest complaint is about stress

The unbearable stress of work isn’t uncommon for American workers.

Gallup recently looked at employee satisfaction: “U.S. workers are the least satisfied with their on-the-job stress and the money they make, out of 13 aspects of work conditions rated in Gallup’s annual Work and Education poll. Less than a third say they are completely satisfied with each. They are most satisfied with the physical safety conditions of their workplace, followed by their relations with co-workers.”

One third of workers told Gallup they are dissatisfied with the amount of on-the-job stress. Stress was the biggest complaint of the 13 areas polled.

Allison Linn at Today, looking at the Gallup poll, said, “In addition, many employers expect the people who do have jobs to be working harder and harder for the same or even less pay. But it’s not surprising that pay and stress are long-running complaints. Real median household income — or the midpoint of American household earnings — has been falling for the past few years and is about the same as it was more than a decade ago.”

Stress at work has been studied and written about extensively.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, “The nature of work is changing at whirlwind speed. Perhaps now more than ever before, job stress poses a threat to the health of workers and, in turn, to the health organizations.”

The center described what stress is: “Job stress can be defined as the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources or needs of the worker. Job stress can lead to poor health and even injury.

“The concept of job stress is often confused with challenge, but these concepts are not the same. Challenge energizes us psychologically and physically, and it motivates us to learn new skills and master our jobs. When a challenge is met, we feel relaxed and satisfied. Thus, challenge is an important ingredient for healthy and productive work. The importance of challenge in our work lives is probably what people are referring to when they say ‘a little bit of stress is good for you.'”

The American Psychological Association says, “Job stress is also a concern for employers, costing U.S. businesses an estimated $300 billion per year through absenteeism, diminished productivity, employee turnover and direct medical, legal and insurance fees.”

Work stress is not limited to the U.S., according to an article by Rebecca Maxon in the Fairleigh Dickinson University Magazine: “There is less stress in developing countries than in developed countries,” said Robert Ostermann, professor of psychology at FDU.

Maxon continues: “This may be due in part to increased consumerism and the growing influence of advertisers who ‘try to convince the consuming public that a want is a need.’ The sense of values also is different in many of the developing countries. In developed nations, there often is an emphasis on what is possessed or how much money is earned. ‘In many developing countries,’ Ostermann states, ‘the value of family and nation is much stronger than it is here in the U.S.’ This strong value system provides support for people in these cultures and may enable them to deal with greater amounts of stress. Some cultures — like those in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore — are emulating the American model and, therefore, Ostermann has found, are growing more stressed.”

The Mayo Clinic says it is important to maintain perspective: “When your job is stressful, it can feel like it’s taking over your life. … Here are some tips that can help:

• Get other points of view

• Take a break: Make the most of workday breaks. Even 10 minutes of personal time can be refreshing. Similarly, take time off, whether it’s a two-week vacation or just a long weekend.

• Have an outlet: All work and no play is a recipe for burnout. Make sure to spend time on activities you enjoy, such as reading, socializing or pursuing a hobby.

• Take care of yourself: Be vigilant about taking care of your health. Get regular exercise and plenty of sleep, and eat a healthy diet.

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