Job’s a good ‘un?

Job stress

With the ‘great return to work’ in full swing there’s no gloomier time of year for workers in the UK. We look at some ways to help disillusioned staff get back on track.

A study conducted on behalf of adult learning group Foundation Degrees shows that more than a third of people feel overwhelmed at work – a problem that the report authors found had a marked impact on relationships both in the office and at home.

The group says one in five workers find their job boring and one in ten don’t get on with colleagues. In a few cases, work-related strains were attributed to relationship break-ups, including divorce.

Report author Jan Walsh recently took part in a web chat with a few downtrodden workers. Below is a selection of answers from the discussion.

Q: “What were the most common reasons for boredom at work?”

This came out in people’s comments when answering questions. Very often, people said they were bored and dissatisfied because they were working below what they felt to be their own ability.

In other words they’d got stuck in a rut and desperately wanted to climb the ladder in order to have a more interesting time at work.

Q: “Which industry seemed to have the most stressed workers and do you know why this might be the case?”

People working in IT spent more of their working day feeling dissatisfied and unhappy. In fact 14% said they were unhappy for the whole of their working day. But the top sectors were management, education and the civil service.

Q: “Did you find that employees of smaller business tend to have a higher level of job satisfaction than those that work for large corporations?”

I’m afraid we didn’t differentiate between firms of different sizes. My personal guess would be that people working for smaller businesses might well be happier simply because in the small working environment you tend to be more valued.

Q: “How do you spot a stressed worker – what are the tell tale signs?”

I’m not a stress counsellor but health problems are one of the main signs. So people who are constantly ill may well be suffering stress. Obviously people who fly off the handle unreasonably are likely to be suffering stress.

Q: “How does people’s dissatisfaction with their current job and stress level manifest itself in their personal lives?”

Well, we had about a third of people in the survey who wake up worrying about their work in the middle of the night. But also, similar number admitted that their unhappiness at work affects the people they love.

In other words they come home and have arguments with their partner or shout at their children because of their frustrations at work.

Q: “I’m curious, what prompted you to do the survey in the first place?”

The survey was commissioned by Foundation Degrees because they wanted to know how attitudes were changing to job satisfaction and the need for skills and qualifications.

Q: “How can taking one of these degrees help me achieve a decent work life balance?”

The whole point of increasing your skills at work is to rise up the professional ladder. And the higher you go, clearly the more you are likely to earn, and the more flexibility you will have in your job.

You may not work fewer hours but you will probably be able to arrange them in a way that suits you and you are more likely to be enjoying what you are doing. I think that gives you a better work life balance.

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