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Just being able to cope with work stress means one event can topple you. (PHOTOS.COM)
Just being able to cope with work stress means one event can topple you. (PHOTOS.COM)

Your Life At Work Survey

Is coping with work stress good enough? Add to ...

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s Your Life at Work Survey, done in conjunction with Howatt HR Consulting. Take our survey, measure your stress levels, find out your Quality of Work Life (QWL) score and determine whether you’re able to cope.

The scenario below, the third in the series, continues to explain why we launched this survey. Read the first column here and the second column here. Take the employer’s version of the survey. Check out a company’s Cost of Doing Nothing Worksheet here. Click here to get a list of ways to help reduce your stress.

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A few weeks have passed since factory manager Kristine had her breakthrough with her stressed-out employee Jack, and he appeared to be more open when talking with her.

One evening, as they were leaving work, Jack stopped to talk. “Kristine, I know I have been struggling at work and I understand that constant stress is putting my health at risk. I’m sure I can benefit by learning how to take more responsibility for my health and happiness. But I had a question. What percentage of our work force do you think is happy?”

Kristine pondered the question and told Jack that she’d have to think about her answer.

She decided to do an informal survey of her staff, so she created a survey with five choices and asked employees to estimate where they fell on the scale.

Happy – confident and calm most days.

Okay – content and getting through the day; aware of the challenges and pressures and pushing hard to meet life’s demands.

Dealing with chronic stress – under pressure, feeling stressed and worried about keeping up.

On the verge of cracking – having a difficult time coping; feeling very stressed by work and life.

Dealing with mental disorders – have sought out help from professionals.

She asked employees to fill out her survey anonymously. This informal survey was insightful and provided some interesting findings:

Happy – 10 per cent

Okay – 50 per cent

Chronic strain – 20 per cent

Ready to crack – 15 per cent

Mental disorders – 10 per cent

As Kristine reflected on the results, what jumped off the page was the large percentage of employees who reported they were just okay.

When she met with Jack, they talked about what being okay means. They wondered why more employees thought they were okay but not happy. They wondered whether one factor might be the pressure of balancing life at home and at work.

Kristine thought that perhaps people who are okay spend more time focused on avoiding stress and reducing life pressures. She added that perhaps this group spends the majority of their energy just getting through the day and don’t have much energy or time for personal fun. She wondered what may be preventing them from adding more happiness to their lives.

Kristine suggested to Jack that being okay may be fine but it is not being happy. “I wonder how many employees in this position struggle with their coping skills,” she said.

Our survey results so far

For the past month, we have been collecting data from The Globe and Mail’s Your Life at Work Survey. Below are a few findings based on the responses from 2,800 participants:

  • 62 per cent report their workplace is stressful.
  • 47 per cent said there is little trust between employees and management.
  • 65 per cent state they are worriers.
  • 61 per cent find they cannot leave work at work.
  • 25 per cent said they cannot balance their work and personal life.
  • 70 per cent said they often feel exhausted.

We will be providing a more detailed report of our findings in the coming weeks. What is becoming evident is that those individuals whose responses indicate that they have strong coping skills also show lower stress levels, lower health risk and higher productivity and engagement.

So perhaps one of the keys for employees who are okay is to improve their coping skills. But to do so they need to be motivated to take action.

The evidence so far shows that employees who are just okay are not happy. In fact, they are more at risk for experiencing stress and health related issues.

Follow on Twitter: @gilllivingston

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