Workplace Stress Causes Desk Rage in 14%
of American Workplaces, Says New Study

Publication: smartlemming.com

Section: Business Life, Management and Leadership, Job Satisfaction, C-Level Management, Management, Middle Management, Work Life Balance, Knowledge Workers, People, Workplace, Rachelle Canter, Workplace stress, Smart Lemming Tips

May 1, 2007

Lori Grant - smartlemming.com

Here's a study of interest for knowledge workers, middle managers, and C-levels. Desk rage is up, but overall stress is down since 2000. The percentage of American workers reporting at least some level of workplace-induced stress has fallen by an unprecedented 15 percentage points from the year 2000 to the present. Rachelle (Shelley) Canter, president of San Francisco career advisory firm RJC Associates, Inc. and author of Make the Right Career Move: 28 Critical Insights and Strategies to Land Your Dream Job, released her findings from a work study of 506 American workers. Below are the findings from her survey on desk rage:

Rachelle (Shelley) Canter, president of San Francisco career advisory firm RJC Associates, Inc. and author of Make the Right Career Move: 28 Critical Insights and Strategies to Land Your Dream Job, released her findings from a work study of 506 American workers. Below are the findings from her survey on desk rage:

  • 4% of American workers report incidents they would characterize as "desk rage" occurring at their workplace;
  • 22% of American workers report having been driven to tears as a result of workplace stress;
  • 16% of American workers report that company property has been damaged as a result of workplace stress;
  • 9% of American workers report that physical violence has occurred at their workplace due to stress;
  • 10% of American workers report a fear that their workplace environs might not be safe.

Overall Stress is Down

Leading this 23% overall plunge in workplace stress was a significant fall in the percentage of working parents reporting at least some level of job-related stress, which dropped an astounding 20 percentage points from 2000 - with only 46% of working parents reporting workplace stress today, down from 66% reporting that stress in 2000. Workers without children in the household reported only a 10 point drop in stress levels, according to the study.

Survey Sample

According to the press release, Canter's study is the most recent on desk rage; it's "the result of a random telephone survey conducted among a national probability sample of 506 employed adults 18 years and older living in private households in the continental U.S. conducted during the period March 9-12, 2007. The survey was conducted with the assistance of Opinion Research Corp. of Princeton, NJ, which conducts similar surveys for news organizations such as CNN."

Five Possible Reasons Workplace Stress is Down

Canter cites five possible reasons for the fall in workplace stress since 2000:

  • Family friendly policies, including flex-time, are on the rise: "In a lot of workplaces, there's an additional flexibility when it comes to the work day," says Canter.
  • A strong employment market increases job security and job mobility - and employee well-being. "Job insecurity is a major source of workplace stress and so is a lack of job mobility," says Canter. "When the economy is strong, workers don't face constant fears of job and income loss. That's a huge boost. Unhappy workers can find a way out of bad jobs. If there's too much stress for you at your present job, the barriers to leaving for a less stressful job are a lot lower these days. And if you're looking for more satisfying work, a more robust economy that allows you to switch fields increases options and potential for finding and doing work you love."
  • Technology has become our friend instead of our enemy. "Because of technology, employees know they have much more flexibility in delivering materials," says Canter.
  • Stress caused by depression or other medical illnesses is more often cured or controlled. "Depression no longer has the stigma it used to. The bad news is that Americans are 10 times more likely to have depressive illness than they were 60 years ago, causing $44 billion in lost workplace productivity," says Canter. "The good news is that the number of people being treated for depression has increased 300% in the last decade, and over 8 million people are now taking anti-depressants and no longer feel their life is spinning out of control," says Canter.
  • Employees are gaining perspective: "There's been a tremendous amount of talk about the proper work-life balance, and as balance has become an accepted practice, it has given people permission to close the door once they leave work, to give themselves more perspective and choice about the role work should play in their lives," says Canter. "More and more companies are saying no to the competition for who can work longest and hardest. They are enforcing vacations, telling people to take breaks, no longer rewarding the macho competition for who can drive himself or herself hardest."

Verbal Abuse in the Workplace

While overall stress is down, "the incidents of desk rage remain flat since 2000; with 14% of American workplaces reporting incidents of desk rage in 2007, compared with 13% reporting desk rage incidents in 2000." says Canter. "The biggest change in the workplace, according to this study, was in the percentage of workers reporting verbal abuse in their workplace. According to the survey, verbal abuse has fallen in the workplace by 45% since the year 2000. That's a dramatic fall." she adds.

Now that's some serious stress. I've never been so stressed at work where I was raging. Ranting, maybe. But raging? Wow. That goes beyond having a Dumb Lemming moment. Here's a Smart Lemming tip: Don't make your coworkers physically fear you.

Copyright 2007 smartlemming.com.
All Rights Reserved.