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You can’t over-stress the prevalence and damage of workplace stress

A survey of 1,501 Canadian employees found that “twenty-one percent of workers experienced physical health problems because of stress or depression in the past year that were bad enough to make them want to call in sick,” according to the Globe and Mail, June 2, 2006 at C2. The health problems include fatigue (20% cited it), headaches (16%), neck or back pains (13%), and joint or muscle pains (10%).

Of particular interest to law departments are what the survey identified as the prime causes of work-place stress. “Conflicts with employees or supervisors” were the prime cause of stress or anxiety (22% cited it) followed by “pressure to complete work” (21%). The remaining causes included “dealing with the public or customers (14%), “the fast pace of work” (13%), “rising volumes of work” (13%), “long hours” (8%), and “lack of support from co-workers.” In short, three stressors result from dysfunctional relations with people (reports or bosses, clients, or co-workers) and three result from workload (pace, amount, or duration) (See my post of June 12, 2005 about stress and in-house counsel.).

By the way, beware Blackberry use and work from home: “20 per cent of those who use wireless communications or laptops to work outside the office found it has raised their stress level in the past year” (See my posts of April 3, 2005 on productivity increases from PDAs, but also July 14, 2005 on diminished productivity.).