Stress Levels Related to Employee Satisfaction

There has been scarce research on the association among perceived responsibilities, the nature of work and job stress. This study attempted to examine if there was any relationship between these factors. Results showed that 18 percent of the tested individuals rated their work as “highly stressful.” It was found that those who had reasonable job satisfaction did not feel that their jobs were stressful. Stress perception tends to rise when workers feel they have to work longer hours or when the responsibilities at work become greater. 

“Workers are increasingly exposed to stressful work environments as a result of changing work expectations including tighter deadlines, constant and almost instantaneous communication and increased production targets set with seemingly little consideration for individual workload.” Figures show that nearly 31 percent of the Canadian workforce suffers from job-related stress and this raises the risk of mental and physical disorders amongst them. There has been very little research that looks into the relationship between perceived responsibilities at work, type of work and job stress. Researchers believe that this knowledge is important in developing effective ways that target both the person and the environment to reduce job-related stress.


  • The study included 2,737 workers who were aged 18 to 65 and had been employed for at least one year prior to the study.
  • The participants were all interviewed over telephone between August and November 2009.
  • The questions focused on “perceived stress” related to work, responsibility associated with work, working extra hours, variability in work hours and work satisfaction.
  • Results

  • Of the participants 18 percent “considered their job as being associated with high stress.” Of the stressed group, only 34 percent were men, 7 percent were under 25 years of age, 10 percent were single and 2 percent did not have high school degrees.
  • Results showed that 17 percent of the participants had marital issues and as many as 58 percent of those who worked as managers or professionals thought that their jobs were associated with high stress.
  • Among those who perceive that they have high stress work, there were lower proportions of people who are satisfied with their jobs. These accounted for 66 percent of the study population.
  • Of the people who report high stress at work, 25 percent thought their performance at work could affect their colleagues; 11 percent thought it would affect the environment and 32 percent believed it would affect the company profits.
  • Next steps
    Authors admit that self perception and reporting of stress at work may not have been accurate.  Also the study was taken as a snap shot, and long-term assessment of stress was not planned in the study design. Hence, the cause of the stress could not be analyzed. Another major shortcoming was that there were more women than men in the study. This could have skewed the results. Finally, the interviews were conducted only among people who owned a telephone hence including only a particular class of people. Further studies should explore the association between job stress and productivity and health status.

    In this study the researchers note “that there are a number of factors that are associated with experiencing high work stress. Among them are being a manager/professional and being more engaged with work.” In other words, the higher the responsibility or connectedness to others, the higher the stress levels were perceived. People who believed their jobs in the workplace to affect others, those who had stress factors from their personal lives (such as a “disrupted marriage”), and also those who were required to work additional hours, felt their level of stress at work was very high. “This is an important finding for employers, offering insight into where interventions may be targeted.”

    For More Information:
    Relationships between Job Stress and Worker Perceived Responsibilities and Job Characteristics
    Publication Journal: The International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, January 2011
    By C. S. Dewa PhD; A. H. Thompson; Work and Well-being Research and Evaluation Program, Center for Addiction and Mental Health; the Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada; and the Institute for Health Economics, Alberta, Canada

    *FYI Living Lab Reports Are Summaries of the Original Research.
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