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5 common culprits of workplace stress

By COS staff

One in four senior managers feel they are more stressed today than they were a year ago, according to a new survey conducted by OfficeTeam, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based staffing firm.

“Although the economy has shown gradual signs of improvement, on-the-job pressure is mounting for some supervisors,” Office Team said in a statement.

Office Team commissioned a telephone survey of more than 300 senior managers at companies with 20 or more employees. Only eight per cent of the managers surveyed felt that work-related pressure has declined.

Although 66 per cent indicated their stress levels at work is about the same as last year’s, 22 per cent of respondents believe work-related anxiety levels will be even higher next year. Only 11 per cent anticipates a reduction in their stress level next year.

"Professionals at all levels are working harder and assuming more responsibilities as a result of companies relying on leaner teams," said OfficeTeam executive director Robert Hosking. "Managers, in particular, may be feeling the heat as they strive to keep employees motivated and productive with limited resources."

A separated study conducted by Robert Half International, Office Team’s parent company, has shown dissatisfaction among workers today. Entitled, Workplace Redefined: Shifting Generational Attitudes During Economic Change (, the study found 37 per cent of employees believe they are not being fairly compensated despite having taken on a greater workload in recent months.

OfficeTeam identifies five common causes of workplace stress, and tips for coping with them:

1.    'There aren't enough hours in the day!'

You may feel overwhelmed because your duties have expanded beyond a reasonable level. Have an honest conversation with your manager about your workload, and don't be afraid to ask for assistance. He or she can help set priorities, delegate projects or bring in interim assistance.

2.    'I'm in over my head.'

You've been given more advanced responsibilities and received limited instruction or oversight. Request training opportunities, and seek mentors who can help you learn the ropes. If you're managing others for the first time, be sure to delegate; often, new supervisors are reluctant to do so.

3.    'I'm lucky just to have a job ... and scared to lose it.'

Like many professionals, you're worried your position, too, could be eliminated. Don't jump to conclusions. Discuss with your supervisor your role in the department and whether the company's goals have shifted. Make yourself indispensable by focusing your efforts on the most critical projects that help your firm boost its bottom line, and show your initiative and expertise by volunteering for new assignments.

4.    'Politics are rampant in my office.'

In an uncertain economy, many professionals feel it's necessary to do whatever it takes to standout from their colleagues. As a result, some may resort to sabotaging the efforts of others or stealing the limelight from their more deserving team members. Rather than fixating on the actions of others, focus on doing the best work possible and maintaining your integrity. Make sure all your contributions are visible by speaking up in meetings and providing your manager with regular status reports. If problems persist, a discussion reinforcing the importance of collaborating on team goals may be necessary.

5.    'My manager is driving me crazy!'

Your boss is a micromanager who closely monitors your every move. Determine if you've done anything to undermine his or her confidence. If you've given your supervisor any reason to doubt your abilities or dedication, make changes to improve the relationship. For example, offering frequent project updates may provide the reassurance your boss needs.

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