Unclear goals, long commutes and bad bosses are top employee stressors
- "Unclear goals" topped the list of causes of workplace stress, according to 41% of employees in a study by Comparably, a provider of compensation and culture data. A "commute" and a "bad boss" were tied for the second greatest cause of stress, followed by "difficult coworkers" and "too long hours."
- While half of respondents overall said they were affected by burnout, fewer women (57%) than men (60%) said they felt burned out. People of color, however, were affected the most by burnout, with rates varying between 59% and 63% of those surveyed. Workers in departments reporting the most burnout were executives (70%), followed by those in HR.
- Young employees had the hardest time leaving work to go out on vacation, another source of stress. Of workers ages 25 and younger, 43% said their bosses expected them to work while on vacation. The people in the departments with the most trouble unplugging from the office were executives, business developers and communications professionals.
Unclear goals are part of the communication problem that continues to plague many workplaces, and were also cited as the number one cause of stress for tech workers in an earlier Comparably study. Employees who don't know what's expected of them can't perform their best work.
Employers can’t afford to ignore stress in the workplace, as it can lead to absenteeism, decreased productivity and higher healthcare costs. Stress is even causing workers to change careers — a real retention problem for some employers. In response, more employers are expanding their wellness programs to include health management and financial education, another major source of stress for employees.
Managers should see that goals are carefully explained and understood, and that workers have the tools and freedom to perform their jobs. Employers can encourage workers to take vacation time and unplug themselves from the office by making such time a valued and lauded aspect of the company culture. Some companies have opted for flexible scheduling and acceptance of remote work (or work being done wherever is best suited for each employee) in order to create a better sense of work-life integration for employees as well as cut down on unnecessary commutes, in some cases.