The misery of the workplace

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on December 13, 2001

Workers seem to be becoming more and more unhappy in the workplace; for many the joy has gone out of work. Where will it end?

There is no doubt that, as far as workers are concerned, events have conspired to cause a lot of stress and unhappiness. Even before the downturn in the economy, companies were anxious to keep shareholders happy by declaring increasing profits year upon year, often at the expense of the morale of the workforce. Layoffs are seldom accompanied by an equal reduction in the total workload, so those fortunate enough to have kept their jobs are faced with an extra workload, often in unfamiliar territory.

Because they can't cope as efficiently as the full complement of staff could, more and more time is spent in crisis management and fire fighting, and less on the basic tasks to which they should be attending. Customers vent their displeasure at the inefficiency and this again increases the staff's stress levels. The situation is eloquently discussed in Adrian Savage's feature article Leaner and Fitter Are Not The Same published a few weeks ago. Then, along came the stress of the economic downturn and the threat of terrorism. Can it get any worse? How bad is it already?

Problems quantified
Now, a new survey from Integra Realty Resources, Inc. quantifies the misery of today's workplace. According to the Second Annual "Desk Rage" Survey of American workers, the phenomenon of "desk rage" is growing, with increasing numbers of workers having arguments and breaking down under pressure. There are increasing levels of violence, stress, damage to equipment, fear and anxiety and stress-induced illness.

These things have always happened in the work environment, but they have been few and far between. The situation is now different  and worrying.

Survey results include:

  • 58% complain of work-related back or neck pain
  • 52% say they have to work more than 12 hours a day to get their work done
  • 50% commonly skip lunch to get their work done
  • 42% say that yelling and verbal abuse takes place
  • 40% claim to have stressed eyes
  • 37% of high rise workers are more fearful for personal safety (20% of workers are overall)
  • 34% claim that their hands hurt
  • 32% say the rudeness of clients and co-workers is a major source of stress
  • 30% are unable to sleep because of workplace stress
  • 29% have yelled at co-workers because of stress
  • 27% say that unreasonable deadlines add to their stress
  • 24% of high-rise workers say they work in a cubicle "like the cartoon character Dilbert" (15% of white collar workers and 11% of all respondents)
  • 23% have been driven to eat excess chocolate
  • 23% have been driven to consume excess alcohol
  • 23% have been driven to tears by stress
  • 20% have quit a job in the past because of workplace stress
  • 19% blame and excessive personal workload
  • 17% have been driven to smoke to excess
  • 13% of high-rise workers have considered changing jobs since September 11 (against 3% of other workers)
  • 12% say that cramped conditions contribute to their stress
  • 12% have seen machinery or equipment damaged through rage
  • 10% say that physical violence has occurred in their work environment because of stress
  • 10% have called in sick because of workplace stress
  • 9% class workplace stress as a "major problem"
  • 1% say that stress has caused them to strike a co-worker

The study was conducted in November 2001 with the help of Opinion Research Corp. International of Princeton, New Jersey, and 1206 random adult workers were surveyed.

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