Workplace Stress High and Getting Higher

October 14, 2003 ( - The stress levels in the American workplace continue to climb with increasing numbers of workers fretting over losing their job.

According to the latest survey by ComPsych Corporation, an employee assistance program provider, a third of employees (29%) showed up for work too stressed out to do their job well – a 10% increase from the company’s poll six months ago. There was a 13% increase in the number of workers citing “lack of job security” as their primary stress factor, according to a ComPsych news release.

“While a certain amount of stress can spur productivity, the levels employees are dealing with now are counterproductive,” said Richard Chaifetz, chairman and CEO of ComPsych, in a statement. “What we are seeing is a workplace situation that is incongruent with the economic rebound. The recovery has brought more work, yet there are few new hires and fewer pay raises. Employees seem to be at a boiling point.”

The company’s second half 2003 survey found clear evidence of major stress problems among the responding companies with only 37% saying their stress was either low or was constant but manageable – a 15% decrease from the first half 2003 poll. Six out of 10 (63%) said their stresses were through the roof, leaving them feeling tired and out of control – a 15% increase from ComPsych’s first half 2003 poll.

Coping with their workload pushed 42% of respondents to the edge, a 1% hike from earlier this year. A third cited people issues, a 2% drop; while 16% had trouble juggling work and personal responsibilities, a 12% decrease.

Whatever the cause, the stress is taking its toll on workers’ ability to function. Nearly half (48%) show up one to four days per year too stressed out be effective, a 4% hike from the earlier poll; 29% attend work in that condition five or more days yearly, up 10%; while just under a quarter (23%) say they can skate through unaffected, down 14%. Some 33% are absent three to six days yearly because of stress, down 4%.

The survey was conducted from September 1 to October 1, 2003, covering employees of more than 700 ComPsych client companies nationwide.