View Full Version : So, what causes stress at your workplace?

07-11-2007, 07:12 PM
Just an opinion and experience thread. I could gain some insights, and turn it into a service piece.

So far I have figured that office politics is one. And the usual crap -- workload, job insecurity, strife with co-workers.

So, well, um, what have you to say?

07-11-2007, 07:40 PM
Office politics don't bother me much, although I do realize they're pretty bad in some places.

My stress comes from the desire for my company to have an "efficient" staff - meaning, they want as few people as possible to do all of the necessary day to day work. Which actually backfires on them, because we are too busy to get everything done with the necessary effort, and so everything gets done half-assed and we still can't finish it all. (Then they wonder why our numbers are bad?) And then, to top it off, we were expected to "just deal with it" for several years. They are just now figuring out that they need to appreciate their employees and are working on a plan to make our department more specialized rather than generalized, so everyone isn't trying to do a half-assed job at everything. In the mean time they keep piling more work on us. Is this unique to my company? No! Corporations for the lose.

I also really hate the American work system. Little to no time off for vacation at most places, even big corporations (two weeks of vacation a year is "good" here to start off with, and it only moves to 3 weeks after 5 years). We get a rushed one hour lunch that doesn't even feel like a break, and because of the previous situation mentioned in the above paragraph, most people feel they need to skip lunch or eat at their desks in order to finish their jobs, as well as stay late during the week and even come in on weekends. Then, if we get sick, we feel so guilty about not being at work or feel like no one will cover for us that we will come to work sick or feel absolutely horrible for calling in. There are a lot of people at my work who haven't called in sick for so long they've hit the cap for acrued sick time. There are also lots of people who never take their vacations and are capped on that, too.

Both of those things combined really burns me out sometimes. And no, I'm not going to say what company I work for.

Then there are some seasonal things... year end is pretty stressful since we try to get everything cleaned up, and the workload is known to double or triple during that time. There are others but I can't mention them without giving away the name of the company I work for.

Managers drive me nuts too. You guys know this one - you know exactly how much effort you put in a day, and you know what your coworkers are doing, too. You know who the slackers are, you know who the overachievers are... and your manager is completely oblivious to it all. The slacker does minimal effort and goofs off for half the day (and NEVER gets caught), while the overachiever, who gets their work done early, might get caught doing something like browsing the internet during a 15 min break and gets in trouble for it. To top it off, the manager doesn't know what your daily grind is, and when you try to explain it their eyes glaze over and they have no idea what your talking about. They just nod and smile. Me, speaking from personal experience? Nevar! ;)

Hope that helps!

(There are a lot of good things about my work, but you just wanted the stressful stuff, so I gave it to ya!)

07-11-2007, 08:00 PM
Hoo boy, let's see if I can come up with something coherent (this year I ended up in counseling, partially because of workplace stress issues).

To generalize, my main source of stress was being placed in a situation over which I was given no control, but was held responsible for all outcomes. (In our specific situation, lack of investment in IT infrastructure has caused long-term problems, for which we are running out of places to stick the baling wire and chewing gum.)

Another big cause of stress was the physical work environment. The parking lot isn't big enough for the number of employees who drive, and isn't safe (cars were regularly getting broken in to; at least one car was stolen from the lot during work hours). The neighborhood is... interesting, but okay as long as you stay in a pack. The building itself is in bad condition; the roof leaks, the toilets don't always work, the heating and air conditioning is inconsistent (I'm really looking forward to the 105 degree temps they're forecasting for the end of the week), the water is, well, lumpy.

And time off. Ah, time off. I've been here long enough to accumulate 6 weeks of PTO a year, which is to be used for sick leave and vacations. We can only carry over one week from one year to the next. The last three years, the entire IT team has rolled into the last quarter of the year with (conservatively speaking) a metric assload of PTO to use or lose. (This year, I'm using it as I get it, except for some I'm saving as a buffer in case I have to go on short term disability for the repetitive stress injury I got working here.)

... phoo, that's probably enough. Hey, on the bright side, I don't have to work outside in the hot hot sun...

07-11-2007, 08:12 PM
I quit one job I really liked cause of 2 guys that were totally dicks. There were only 5 of us & to have almost 1/2 treat you like crap - it was just too much.

Next job - 1 lady I worked with was equally mean (there's no pattern - I'm a nice person damnit!!) but that wasn't enough in itself for me to quit. My photo manager position meant running a gas station/ convenience store counter as well and I couldn't take daily dealing with the welfare abuse. It shouldn't have hit me so hard but for some reason it did. I guess I have busted my butt since I was fourteen and hate seeing people sucking the system. I am all for the ones that need a leg to stand on when you have to - but I'm talking about the lazy $#!ts that just don't want to work & get away with it! Gorgeous, young 21, no kids, no disability, 14 credit cards & $100 + that I could see in her wallet then pulling out the food stamp card. Then buying 6 packs of cigarrettes and $20 in lottery tickets. Everyday I wanted to write congress and say FU**ing shame on you!!!!!! I'm glad my tax dollars are hard at work.:rant:

Sorry - vent,vent...was that even covering in the question?

07-11-2007, 08:14 PM
Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines. Coupled with lack of information or decisions on the front end.

07-11-2007, 08:34 PM
Here in Taiwan schools they pander to parents way too much. One parent comes in with a "Bright idea" and the boss comes to me to tell me everything is going to change. I tell them it WILL NOT WORK, but they are the boss and have to be obeyed. So we change till the next parent comes in with their idea of how to teach the kids. THIS happens all the time and can even happen several times a day!


07-11-2007, 08:43 PM
Lack of communication is a big one. Another one is lack of trust between boss and employee. I work part-time for a company that is actually fantastic; it's a small local business owned by a few people. However, when there is stress it's usually because of the two reasons listed above. There are actually three partial-owners who work on a daily basis in the office, so from the perspective of the rest of us, ALL THREE are in charge. At one point, when I was working full time, I was doing tasks for each one of them, and all three were breathing down my neck for results... but weren't communicating with each other! Finally I had to say, "Look, I'm just one person, could you three please get together and decide what percent of me each one of you gets?" And then I'd discuss something with one of them and then later discover that the other two had never been informed.

The issue with lack-of-trust is also an irritating one. One of the three bosses clearly has trust issues, so every now and then he gets in the mood to go and "check" on everybody. Fortunately he's the one I work with least, but some of the other girls get pretty upset when he starts looking into their communications with clients, etc. He doesn't fully inform himself, and he jumps to some pretty wild conclusions. He also feels the need to lecture everyone about things that are completely obvious, and hold meetings where he rambles on and on. And of course nobody stops him because he's the boss.

Both of these things aren't big deals since my job overall is fantastic, but I've worked at a few other places where these two issues got really bad. I think for me, trust from my superior is the biggest thing. I work my butt off for the full 8 hours; I consider it my moral duty. My husband even teases me for being so insistent on not "relaxing" or goofing off. I actually ruined my vision because I had a job that required me to be on the computer all day, and I stared at the screen so hard and long that my eyes went bad. So when a boss doesn't trust me... yeah, I get very offended.

07-11-2007, 09:59 PM
JoNightshade, are you sure we don't have the same job? :) Actually, I'm now working for a small company, but your job sounds very much like the one I left in February. It was actually a good job although I had too much work for one person (I found out that before they hired me they'd downsized three other admins, so I was basically doing the work of four people). I had two bosses who never seemed to be on the same page, and one of them had a paranoid streak that made me feel like he was just waiting for me to slip up. I'm very on-task and organized, extremely quick with everything I'm assigned--but in my performance review, he didn't give me one word of praise, just said I needed to work on getting names spelled correctly in phone messages. Argh! That was the main reason why I decided to leave, that and the fact that he kept giving me more and more "first thing every morning" reports to do, so that my entire first hour at work was spent doing his stuff--when I was the sole admin support for over twenty people in a very busy sales office, and while I was doing his stupid reports, urgent paperwork was languishing in my in box.

Now, of course, I have to deal with a boss who is (I'm convinced, very seriously) bipolar and a real terror to deal with whether he's in a manic or depressive phase. He's also incredibly forgetful and loses things, to the point that it's pathological, and since he will never, ever admit to being wrong I'm always being accused of not giving him information or paperwork or so forth.

Because of my boss's difficult personality, the turnover here has been incredibly high. People are either fired for really weird reasons or quit (one guy walked out after the boss screamed at him to "shut the f--- up" while he was on the phone with a customer). So I'm once again doing all the admin support for the office, with the exception of payroll. I'm just relieved they've hired a new accountant, since I don't have any accounting experience and wasn't eager to learn. I've only been here since February, but if it weren't for the good salary I'm getting (no benefits, though) I think I'd have left several months ago. As it is, I see increasing signs that the company is spiraling toward bankruptcy, so I don't think it'll be long before I'm on the market again. Probably for the best, really.

And yes, I'm posting this from work. No one but me is here today. Stress-free Wednesday! And yes, I've already finished everything I need to do today.

07-12-2007, 05:32 AM
Man, after reading some of these, I feel like I shouldn't even complain. I have been with the same compnay for 7 years, my first "real" job. I can't even believe I'm still there, but I have been delivered from the crap that was my job for the first five years. I worked in the billing department typing up invoics. At first I was pretty busy, but when Sept. 11, 2001 happened, we lost a lot of business, so I had less typing to do. I was bored out of my mind and my boss, though I asked several times, would not give me work to do or teach me anything. Mind you, this was not the career I wanted for myself, but how could a boss turn down the requests of an employee for more work or training??!!! Hello? So what I did was go to the office manager and my boss's boss (the assistant comptroller) and asked for more work. I got it helping out two other departments. But, my boss was offended by it. I think that she was a bit intimidated by me because I didn't care, I wanted to do a job, do it well, and all day. But by the end of five years I thought I would shoot myself from boredom! A position in a/p opened up when 2 people retired. I jumped at it and have been there a little over two years. And no I don't talk to my former boss because I have no work connections with her and I don't like the person she is. I felt that she put me down and made way too many jokes about my mistakes, but would never admit her own. And she once tried to blame me for something she did! She also fought against my having a computer! I was on a company system, but had to go again to the Asst. comptroller to get my computer. My biggest issue with her was that she complained I was on the phone too much with my dying mother (Ovarian Cancer - Sept. 2002). I was still getting my work done, but she didn't want anyone else on the phone as much as she did everyday. After that day, she was on my s****list.
My only issue with the new position is having a co-worker who having been there longer should know her job, but doesn't. I get really frustrated when she asks me the same things over and over again. But other than that I'm cool. Hope this helps and thank God for small miracles and retirees!

07-12-2007, 06:07 AM
I'm a supervisor at our 911 center (I've been there 12 years). My biggest source of stress has always been co-workers that don't pull their weight. Rather than answering calls, they're chatting on personal calls, wandering around away from their desks, or just pretending to be busy when they're not, so they ignore the phone. It's incredibly frustrating!

The second biggest stressor is when management refuses to staff enough people for big events. It's not much of a problem now, but it used to be.

Third biggest: stupid people. Anyone that works with the public knows exactly what I mean! :)

07-12-2007, 06:19 AM
Lets see...what causes me stress at work.

Here is one. Well, I once received an email that had been forwarded through a few department heads saying that someone had made a decision that had cost a commercial airframe manufacturer hundreds of thousands of dollars due to a brand new aircraft being grounded so the crew could rebalance two of itís four engines. For a day I was that person, but the decision was made by someone a few rungs up from me. I finally tracked down the paper trail (always have paper trails to cover your ass!) showing that the decision was approved not by me, but from a dynamics engineer that was head of the engine dynamics program.

I have a few others.

Mostly has to do with meeting customer purchase orders with very little time to fill them. Quarterly and monthly goals and expectations by the company and customers, sometimes unattainable. Many many factors that are out of our hands and having to make due with what we get.

07-12-2007, 06:22 AM
Right now, my stress is a direct result of the fact that all the stupid people make more money than I do.


They ask me to retrieve information I don't have security clearance for (and can't GET clearance for) because the very same people who asked me to do it in the first place have ruled that I have no "business need to know" said information.

07-12-2007, 02:45 PM
I'll tell you what's causing effing stress: when the people behind me have a yelling conversation with the person in front of me, right over my head. And then their friends from elsewhere come and hang to my left and join in, and I'm trying to do work (or not, as the case may be) and these people are flapping their lips at me from three sides at once.

Back. The fuck. Off.

(very angry)