Industry Market Trends

Top 10 Workplace Stresses and Irritations

Aug 15, 2006

Is there any more-used phrase adopted by the modern worker than "Work has me stressed and irritated?" Perhaps not. But you've probably never actually taken the time to list the top causes of such work-related stress and irritation, either — you have better ways to optimize your time. So we've done it for you.

Stress, along with depression and family crisis, ranks among the top three workplace problems for employee assistance professionals, according to the National Mental Health Association.

Job stress has become a common and costly problem in the American workplace, leaving few workers untouched. There are a bevy of studies that report as such: One-fourth of employees view their jobs as the No. 1 stressor in their lives, according to Northwestern National Life; three-fourths of employees believe the worker has more on-the-job stress than a generation ago, says Princeton Survey Research Associates; and problems at work are more strongly associated with health complaints than are any other life stressor — more so than even financial problems or family problems, says St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Co.

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A recent survey of more than 3,000 people — conducted on behalf of online learning provider SkillSoft — reveals the leading causes of workplace stress.

Top 10 Work Stresses

1) Workload

2) Feeling undervalued

3) Deadlines

4) Type of work people have to do

5) Having to take on other people's work**

6) Lack of job satisfaction

7) Lack of control over the working day

8) Having to work long hours

9) Frustration with the working environment

10) Targets

**According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers who must take time off work because of stress, anxiety or a related disorder will be off the job for about 20 days, during which time someone else typically will have to take on that person's work, thus causing more stress on that person. It is indeed a vicious circle.

Perhaps less dire but no less prevalent are minor colleague annoyances, those little frustrations that, over time, add up and can create enmity between colleagues. In addition to the Top 10 Work Stressors, SkillSoft also reveals the leading colleague irritations.

Top 10 Colleague Irritations

1) Seeing others not pulling their weight

2) Managers changing their minds about what they want to be done

3) Lack of support from managers

4) Pressure from managers

5) Feeling put-upon by managers

6) Interruptions by colleagues

7) Interruptions by managers

8) Bullying behavior by managers

9) Lack of support from colleagues

10) Bullying behavior by colleagues

(We'd like to add to this latter list those coworkers who have their personal cell phones set to an obnoxiously loud ring or, so help us, to a loud and even more obnoxious ring tone. Please set the sucker on stun…er, that is, on vibrate.)

Not to foster the disconnect (and even hostility) between employees and managers, but the fact that managers racked up six mentions in the list of Top 10 Colleague Irritations seems worth noting; was this list created by engineers? Nevermind. We at IMT think that managers are people, too. So here are 10 rules that address "some common questions asked by managers with respect to managing their bosses," by Jacques Horovitz, Professor of Service Strategy, Service Marketing & Service Management at IMD, considered one of the world's leading business schools (via

Interestingly, the SkillSoft survey also found engineering to be the third most stressful profession, preceded only by IT and medicine.


The National Mental Health Association

Top 10 Most Stressful Professions; Work Stresses and Colleague Irritations

SkillSoft (via PR Web), May 11, 2006

10 rules to manage your boss

by Jacques Horovitz

The Smart Manager (via, Aug. 12, 2005

Stress at Work

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)


Employers taking steps to combat work-related stress

by Kimberly Freeman

The Philadelphia Business Journal (Special to), July 29, 2005

Manager set list

toothpaste for dinner