Workers don’t feel their bosses do enough to help them fight stress

The poll was conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The poll found that among working adults who said they've experienced "a great deal of stress at work" in the past 12 months, 85 percent rated the efforts of their workplace to reduce stress as "fair" or "poor." –Shutterstock

A significant portion of workers feel that their workplace is stressful, dangerous, or making them unhealthy, according to a new poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The survey, which included telephone interviews with 1,601 workers, examines U.S. workers’ perceptions of health problems, issues, and challenges in the workplace. Researchers found that many U.S. workers believe their current job impacts their health, stress level, family and social life, eating and sleeping habits, and even their weight.

In particular, NPR notes that many respondents said their job is stressful, with over 43 percent of working adults saying their job negatively affects their stress levels — and many think their employer doesn’t care.


For those who said they’ve experienced a “great deal of stress” in the past year, a whopping 85 percent of respondents rated their employer’s effort to reduce workplace stress as “fair” or “poor.”

But Americans living up to their “workaholic” reputation could also have something to do with how stressed out they feel.

Almost two-thirds of respondents said they “often” or “sometimes” work overtime or on the weekends, while about one in five workers said they work more than 50 hours per week. Furthermore, less than half of full- and part-time workers said they actually use all or most of their paid vacation days, which is a necessary time to recharge and rest for many.

Many respondents don’t use their sick days, either.

Just 16 percent of workers said they used all of their paid sick days in the past year, and 32 percent said they used none at all. While some of these employees could just have super-human immune systems, 28 percent of workers said they didn’t use their sick days because there wouldn’t be enough people to cover their work. Somewhat frighteningly, over half of all restaurant and medical workers said they generally still go to work when they have a cold or the flu.


Another possible workplace stressor? Potentially unhealthy or dangerous situations.

About one in five working adults said something at their job could be harmful to their health, with chemicals and contaminants topping the list.

Construction and outdoor workers were the most likely (43 percent) to have health concerns in the workplace, followed by 34 percent of respondents in medical jobs. Meanwhile, an overwhelming 76 percent of construction and outdoor workers said they often or sometimes face potentially dangerous situations at work, followed by 58 percent of medical workers and 56 percent of warehouse workers.

A large portion of restaurant (38 percent) and retail workers (36 percent) also said they often face dangerous situations at work, though the survey did not pinpoint what situations the respondents were referring to.

Nineteen percent of working adults have seen or heard of violence against employees in their workplace.

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