While the majority of workers may be full of anxiety, it does not seem to be as a result of the economy. In the latest poll by Performancepoint LLC 48% of employees surveyed about what causes them to feel stressed at work stated organizational culture and politics as the number one reason for their stress.
In fact, none of the other reasons came close. Almost half of the respondents seemed to feel that they work in unhealthy environments. The economy and job security did come in a distant second with 21%. What is also very surprising is that the manager (14%), co-workers (11%), and change (4%) were all lesser concerns. More than ever it appears that employees are asking for a transparent workplace. Here is what some of the respondents said in response to stress at work:
“You cannot survive in this political environment; because business & politics should be separate this sentence doesn’t make sense as written. No politics in business, the work environment should be healthy, transparent and strait forward. That makes life easy for everyone to reach organizational goals.”
“It would seem like the best way to mitigate politics/culture from producing stress would be to keep your organization small and nimble.”
“Interesting (but perhaps not surprising) people recognize the unfilled need for open and sincere dialogue in the office.”
What is also interesting is that the average employee distinguishes between the broader issues in a company and their manager. While managers influence specific relationships they are only the translators of culture. The architects of culture are senior management and the board. Functional units such as human resources also play a role in terms of defining policy, process, and approaches to challenges such as lay-offs, corporate social responsibility, etc. The average associate can distinguish between how their manager behaves and what their manager can control versus what is an organizational or functional issue. This mitigates some of the conventional wisdom in business today that employees look to their manager to sort out or solve most issues. The apparent message from employees is it is not just the manager as they realize managers only control so much.
The outliers to these findings were C-level executives. They were the only job level that did not see culture and politics as the main issue causing stress in the workplace. C-level executives focus more on the economy and job safety as the main stress-inducing issues (44%).
While large companies seem to have more stress caused by politics than smaller organizations, all organizations, regardless of size, seem to hold up politics and culture as the chief stress creator.
- Academicians and administrative personnel are the most challenged by culture and politics with 66% and 80% respectively
- Consultants saw the economy/job safety (43%) and culture and politics (43%) being of equal, and the largest, concern.
- Sales people were most stressed by the economy/jobs security (42%)
- Economy/ job security was slightly higher for females (24%) than it was for their male (21%) counterparts
- Males (50%) saw politics/culture as a larger stressor than their female (46%) counterparts
- 18-24 year olds saw politics/culture as the key stress creator coming in at 86%
- The economy/job safety was a much larger concern for those 35-54 (21%) and 55 and older (24%)
- 55 and older respondents were more heavily impacted by their manager than other age groups with 24% rating it as the major stress creator
Some follow up questions that should be posed:
- Why are women more concerned by the economy/job safety?
- Why are men more stressed by politics/culture?
- How does stress in the workplace impact different generations?
- How does the C-level view of workplace stressors impact the rest of the organization’s performance?