Workplace stress has caused 42% of workers to switch jobs

| April 29, 2014

A staggering 42 percent of employees have changed jobs because of stress, according to a survey reported on by Forbes. The survey polled almost 7,000 U.S. workers and discovered that 35 percent “contemplated” leaving a job to escape a stress-filled situation, while 42 percent actually packed up their office supplies and left.

Work stress manifests in a variety of disturbing ways. Almost 50 percent of employees polled reported having missed work time because of stress. Sixty-one percent reported that job-related stress has left them with physical illness resulting in insomnia, depression, and/or family troubles. And 7 percent have been hospitalized for such stress.

workplace stress

Manage workplace stress before you switch jobs as a last resort. From Alan Cleaver.

While the causes of stress are diverse — and this particular study did not differentiate between different types of stress, such as the seasonal stress tax accountants go through or the continual stress of an abusive boss — there are notable factors in employee stress. Another survey polling more than 900 employees discovered that the employee-boss relationship is the top stressor, followed by workload, work-life balance, and co-worker relationships.

Monster career advice expert Mary Ellen Slayter noted, “People feel stressed out because there’s that continuing pressure to do more with less. Workers feel pressure to get more accomplished. People know they’re not happy, but they’re not clear on whether or not it would be better somewhere else.”

How can workers alleviate work stress and stress-related ailments? Follow our expert tips:

1. Take action. As Sharon Melnick, a business psychologist, told Forbes, “We experience stress when we feel that situations are out of our control.” She recommends identifying what part of the stress is controllable, and what part is not: for example, you’re in control of your responses and actions, but not over someone else’s attitude. “Be impeccable for your 50%,” she says. Don’t stress over the rest.

2. Keep it positive. The survey reported that talking is most employees’ go-to for alleviating work stress. (The breakdown: talking to a friend/colleague/spouse (55 percent), exercising (40 percent), eating (35 percent), stepping away from work (35 percent), taking a day off (32 percent) and drinking after work (24 percent)). While talking or taking a break, such as a walk mid-day, can help, other ways of coping — drinking, eating, or exercising too much — can be extremely damaging.

3. End interruptions. Take control over your time. “Most of us are bombarded during the day,” says Melnick. Choose one of three ways to respond to unwanted interruptions: “Accept the interruption, cut it off, or diagnosis its importance and make a plan.” Over time, you can also “train” those you work with, “by answering email during certain windows, setting up office hours to talk in person or closing the door when you need to focus.”

4. Know your situation. “While every job will come with a degree of stress, it is important to act if it becomes unmanageable,” says Slayter. “It’s good to start by tracking your stress levels and looking for common triggers. Your workplace stress might feel like one big cloud of anxiety, but there are likely many contributing factors and evaluating them individually is crucial. Some problems, once isolated, might have simple solutions, like making adjustments to an unbalanced schedule or ensuring you always take a break at lunchtime.” Little steps, such as getting enough sleep and eating properly, can help uncloud your vision, too.

5. Make a move. If all else fails, honestly evaluate your situation. “Make sure that overall your career is a good fit,” Slayter, the Monster career expert. “If you find yourself thinking that every day is stressful, if everyday is unpleasant, if it feels like that chronically, its time to sit down and ask yourself, ‘Is this the right fit?’”

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