Top stressors at work: Low pay, commutes and heavy workloads

04/09/2014 11:39 AM

04/09/2014 11:39 AM

A decade ago, when workers were asked what mattered to them on the job, they cited relationships with colleagues, feeling respected, being able to contribute and grow — the touchy-feely part of working.

No longer.

The 2014 Work Stress Survey by Harris, a Nielsen company, found that “low pay” and commuting issues are workers’ biggest concerns. Those stresses slightly edged out “unreasonable workload” as the top causes of employee worries. A similar survey last year by Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health found “inadequate staffing” was the top stress agent.

In short, workers are feeling short-changed on pay and overloaded in do-more-with-less workplaces with fewer colleagues to share the load.

Workforce, a publication for the human resource industry, uses “the work-more economy” to describe the bigger burden on employees. Pay experts acknowledge that pay levels have stagnated, even as corporate profits have risen along with executive pay.

We all fret as consumers when we don’t get good customer service, or wait too long for help, or wade through computer programs and phone trees instead of getting personal attention. On the receiving end of disappointing service, it’s hard to be understanding about the waits and flaws.

On the flip side, when we’re employed in a “work-more economy” job, it’s hard to continue to give a 100 percent effort with a good attitude.

These are today’s workplace infirmities, and the cures aren’t easy. But to try: Employers who complain that it’s hard to get and keep good people need to honestly assess their pay, benefits and staffing to remedy merited causes of worker complaints.

And employees need to honestly self evaluate: Are you where you need to be and doing your best given the circumstances? Change is increasingly possible.

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