In a new survey conducted by Swingline Workspaces Tools, the people famous for the stapler, dealing with office politics rates as the top effort inducing work activity that employees would like to change. Stress like this can often lead to physical problems–falling asleep at the desk, taking aspirin frequently, or seeing a massage therapist for neck and back pain–for workers who may be suffering from “office-itis,” also known as workplace over-exertion! Office workers may not realize that minor routine office actions add up, but two-thirds of U.S. office workers (66%) say they experience some physical problems as a result of job-related stress or exertion.
“I’ve seen a number of patients with various aches and pains due to stress, improper posture, and use of tools in the workforce,” said Dr. Jeffrey Mendelson MD, chief of orthopedics, St. John Macomb Hospital, Warren, MI. “There are several techniques and products that employees can use to alleviate this tension on the body. In particular, ergonomic tools, which lessen the stress and discomfort on the body, and I recommend frequently getting up from their desk to get the blood flowing.”
Since the majority of office workers (66%) acknowledge that they have some physical problems as a result of job-related stress or exertion, it’s key to examine what the after effects of all of this tension are on the body. From fatigue and tension headaches to aches and pains and even vision problems, work-related stress is a serious predator on employees’ physical well-being. Here are some reasons your co-workers might be frequently calling in sick or racking up hefty doctor bills:
• 40% of office workers have experienced fatigue as a result of job-related stress or exertion.
• 35% have had stress-related headaches.
• 27% have gotten back pain, while 26 percent have felt neck strain.
• 18% reported repetitive motion injuries (i.e. wrist sprain, hand cramp, etc.) as a result of at-work stress.
• Other listed physical ailments included stomach discomfort (17%) and vision problems (15%).
• Only about one in three office workers (34%) said they had not experienced any physical problems due to job-related stress or exertion.
The survey also found that:
• Almost three-quarters of U.S. office workers (71%) would prefer to spend time with their family (56%) and/or friends (54%) if their jobs required less effort, thus giving them more free time and energy outside of work hours.
• Exercise was mentioned by many, with 61% of workers wanting to burn off their office frustrations, while 57% would travel, and 55% would choose to read.
• 36% would volunteer.
• 35% would go to the movies or sleep.
• 34% would kick back in front of the television.
Because an office can often be a stressful environment, workers were asked which aspects of their job they would choose to alter because they require excessive effort:
• Dealing with office politics was cited the most according to 43% of office workers.
• On a similar note, dealing with problem clients came in second place, with 25%, and handling a difficult boss or client was third, with 21% of office workers wishing to alter these aspects of their job.
Other common complaints:
• 14% think handling work assignments and programs requires too much effort.
• 12% would alter coordinating internal resources.
• 10% would think of new ways to master computer software programs.
• 6% would alter physical tasks, such as shredding, stapling, filing and binding.
Workers who experience physical problems due to job stress also request more pampering time, as 46% would like workplace massages or physical fitness courses and 27% want more frequent breaks in order to relieve their work-based stress and exertion. Here is the breakdown of other wishes from office workers who experience physical problems due to job-related stress:
• Ergonomic desk chairs – 36%.
• Larger or adjustable computer monitor or display – 23%.
• Hands-free phone devices – 16%.
• Better lighting – 16%.
• Easier-to-use tools (i.e., ergonomically-designed staplers, paper punches, etc.) – 14%.
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of the Swingline Workspace Tools Group between September 12 and 14, 2006 among 909 U.S. adults 18 years of age or older who work in an office setting. Figures for region, age within gender, education, household income and race/ethnicity were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. With a pure probability sample of this size (909), one can say with 95% probability that the results for the overall sample of office workers have a sampling error of plus or minus five percentage points. However, that does not take other sources of error into account. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no theoretical sampling error can be calculated.