Just How Stressed Are You?

Kenenth Nowack, Ph.D.

All of us experience stressors at work and home each day but how we perceive these events determines whether or not they are experienced as stressful.

Our own research suggests that 40% to 60% of all employees express a moderately high level of stress on the job. Our work and non-work lives are very permeable with most of us taking work stress home and home stress to our job ((Nowack, K. (2006). Optimising Employee Resilience: Coaching to Help Individuals Modify Lifestyle. Stress News, International Journal of Stress Management, Volume 18, 9-12)). The contributors to stress are varied and is is logical that we take work stress home with us as well as import the pressures from family challenges back to the job ((Nowack, K. (2008). Coaching for Stress: StressScan. Editor: Jonathan Passmore, Psychometrics in Coaching, Association for Coaching, UK, pp. 254-274)).

The American Psychological Association (APA) in their 2011 survey of American’s perceptions of stress found that women, compared to men, reported higher levels of stress (5.4 vs. 4.8, respectively, on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is little or no stress and 10 is a great deal of stress).

In the APA survey all respondents reported an increase in overall stress from last year and more people reported increased symptoms of stress including fatigue, anger/irritability, depression and headaches.

We were interested in seeing whether results from our own personal stress and health risk appraisal called StressScan would help to identify what professional working employees reported being stressed about and how it compares to the recent 2011 APA survey. StressScan measures 14 psychosocial scales that have been shown to be associated with diverse individual (e.g., job burnout, depression, physical health) and organizational (e.g., absenteeism) outcomes.

Stress is conceptualized as the experience of major and minor irritants, annoyances, and frustrations (hassles) of daily living over a three-month period. This brief measure of work/life stress was based upon factor analytic research of the original Hassles scale ((AD Kanner, A, Coyne, J., Schaefer, C.; & Lazarus, R. (1981). Comparison of two modes of stress measurement: Daily hassles and uplifts. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 4, 1573-3521)). StressScan measures the extent to which respondents experience daily hassles in six distinct factor areas including:

  1. Health
  2. Work
  3. Personal Finances
  4. Family
  5. Social Obligations
  6. Environmental and World concerns

We analyzed differences by gender across these six StressScanscales (ANOVA) using requests for free trials for this assessment over the last few years (N=149). In general, women reported significantly higher levels of stress compared to males (mean for woman = 16.48 versus mean for men = 15.35, p

We found only two stress categorieswere rated as significantly more challenging by women compared to their male counterparts (p

  • Financial Stressors (mean for women 3.15 versus mean for men 2.72)
  • Family Stressors (mean for women 3.08 versus mean for men 2.70)

However, we found no significant differences in self-reported work, health, social or environmental stressors. In our sample, professional working women continue to report more hassles and life challenges around family issues and finances than men (note: we don’t gather marital status on our demographics but this would be useful to know in analyzing these differences).

These findings support the recent APA stress survey as well as confirm that women may indeed still perceive they have two full-time jobs–one at work and the other when they leave.

If you are interested in finding out your own level of work and life stress let me know at ken@envisiaonline.com and I will set up a complimentary free trial for you.

Well, it’s time to take a break and get some exercise….Be well…

1 Comment