Three-fourths of employees believe the worker
has more on-the-job stress than a generation ago.
—Princeton Survey Research Associates
I know that I've felt the increase in career or job stress, something I noticed accelerating beginning in the 1990's. A different kind of 'modern' stress that people 100 years ago didn't know. Those early 1900 workers had other, dangerous stresses, no less difficult.
Today's stress is different in that it's not as often physical as it once was. It's emotional. Sixty years ago it might have been the physical danger of working in the mines or factories with equipment that could kill you if you didn't focus. Fifty years ago it could have been chemical or biological exposure that a sloppy employer didn't protect workers from (if he or she knew the dangers even).
Today's workplace is, I like to say, full of psychological landmines. Okay, so maybe that's an exaggeration. One we need to realize only hypes up our stress further. But perhaps a better more accurate and manageable term to characterize today's workplace would be 'unique challenges' requiring behavioral, emotional and sociological skills our ancestors didn't dream of. Skills that require each of us to become 'stress warriors' in our own lives.
Factors associated with jobs today are what is causing the increased number of workplace violence incidents. Like the one we saw in Virginia Beach a few weeks ago where a long term employee who didn't appear 'stressed', quit his job and proceeded to return to his workplace and commit 'mass murder suicide' by gun: violently shooting and killing several of his co-workers, then being killed by police to save more victims being shot and/or killed.
We know better today, as a society, about human rights and thus, we are morally responsible for how we treat our fellow citizens. Wouldn't you agree? This is the endless debate happening with our politics.
But as in other life areas, we know that we can't wait for our environments - our politics, others around us, etc. - to change. We must take charge of our own health and happiness. Yes, employers are better in some ways - giving employees access to resources like brown bag lunches and EAP counseling, but worse in others - giving employees much less loyalty and job security than ever. This, my friends is where 'the juice' is, for me. I've eschewed work environments that were toxic for me. I'm creating a work life that is better, healthier and happier. Sound refreshing?
I'll be saying much, much more on this vital topic. So stay tuned. And feel free to discuss in the comments section below.