Can’t Relax? The 8 Biggest Causes of Work Stress

Corporate job stress
Kramer at corporate job | Source: TBS YouTube

Stress at work can be brutal. Look no further than what happens when Kramer gets a regular job on an episode of Seinfeld. His schedule becomes chaotic, his relationship with Jerry suffers, and he likely gets an ulcer after only a few days on the job.

Unfortunately, real life has plenty of stress too. A recent survey from CareerCast finds 62% of workers rate their jobs as stressful, while only 11% say their amount of job stress is low. Interestingly, there isn’t much middle ground when it comes to stressing out at work. After a stress score of 7, 8, 9, or 10, the next most common stress response is 1. This suggests workers are often very stressed in their careers, or don’t consider their jobs stressful at all. The survey included more than 800 participants, with most of them full-time employees. The split of men and women was about equal.

“Life is filled with stressors – from worrying you’re going to lose your job because the company lost a big account to having a sick child at home,” says Kyle Kensing, Online Content Editor of CareerCast, in the report. “Much of the pressure we feel occurs in the eight or so hours we spend at work and we asked our readers to sound off on their stress factors.”

Not knowing what your work day will bring you is the biggest source of work stress. The five most common factors influencing job stress levels are unpredictability (26%), workplace environment (21%), deadlines (20%), safety of others (16%), and the length of workday/week (7%). Only 5% of workers say their personal well being is a major source of stress. The potential for a promotion (3%) and travel (1%) are the least common major causes of work stress.

Stress at work has no age limit. CareerCast’s survey included a wide range of workers. Nearly 35% of respondents came from the 51-70 age bracket, while 33% and 29% came from the 36-50 and 19-35 age ranges, respectively. However, some industries face different stressors than others. Those in academia (40%), engineering (33%), and customer service (30%) say unpredictability is their top stressor, while only 15% of those in transportation say unpredictability is a stress factor at work.

“Any number of factors can contribute to an unpredictable workplace. Either the flow of responsibility changes from day-to-day with new tasks added or changed at random intervals, or expectations may change,” explains the report. “For example, enlisted military, firefighters, and police officers – three of the most stressful careers on our 2016 Job Stress report – encounter more than one stress factor on a daily basis. Not only are their jobs unpredictable, but they also face personal danger, are responsible for the safety of others, and have a perilous working environment.”

The least stressful jobs are information security analyst, diagnostic medical sonographer, tenured university professor, hair stylist, medical records technician, and medical laboratory technician.

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