Stress Levels Are Rising Again--And More Time Off Doesn't Seem to Be the Answer

Gallup's new survey this week found that employees are now more stressed at work than during the pandemic.
In August 2021, only 32 percent of respondents said that they were satisfied with the level of workplace stress they experience. This is a decrease from the 35 percent and 34% who said they felt completely fine in 2020 and 2019. In other words, in August 2021, 32 percent of workers surveyed felt "completely unhappy" or "somewhat fine" with the level of workplace stress they experienced. This is a significant increase from 35 percent and 34 percent who reported feeling completely satisfied in 2020 and 2019, respectively. Gallup polled employees to find out how they feel about 13 factors that contribute to their job satisfaction.

Other factors, such as salary and promotions, received lower scores than in previous years. Only 42 percent of workers were "completely satisfied" with their job opportunities, while only 38 percent were happy with their salaries. Only half of workers felt satisfied with their employer's health insurance.

The poll also shows that workplace safety and time off did not significantly contribute to workplace stress. This means that employees can't be expected to change their mood by simply giving them vacation time.

However, you can't ignore this issue. While stress can reduce productivity and cause job satisfaction, it can also be detrimental to your overall job satisfaction.

These are the three ways that you can help:

1. Cross-train and pay up

Pay up when you can. Employees who are unhappy with their salaries or lack growth opportunities can be motivated to get raises and promotions. This can improve morale and reduce stress. These moves may not always be possible, so a one-time bonus can be worth it, according to Cassie Whitlock, BambooHR's director for HR. Cross-functional job training can also help employees feel more fulfilled at work.

2. 2. Go beyond PTO

Many companies have struggled to prioritize mental health at work. Visier, a Vancouver-based workforce analytics company, published another survey in August that found that an astonishing 89 percent of U.S. workers experienced burnout during the previous year.

The survey found that increasing vacation time may not be enough for burnout. Gallup's poll showed that 78 percent of employees are satisfied with the amount of time they get. Employers may find it more beneficial to improve workflow practices in order to optimize employee workloads.

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