Study: The hostility of the American workplace

Employees are increasingly stressed by inflexible schedules, heavy workloads and ‘threatening social environments’ on the job.

The U.S. is known as the “no vacation nation,” but we seem to be in danger of becoming a land of occupation aggravation.

Rand Corp. has released an extensive study detailing the conditions of workplaces nationwide.

Rand says:

The American workplace is physically and emotionally taxing, with workers frequently facing unstable work schedules, unpleasant and potentially hazardous working conditions, and an often hostile social environment.

What’s causing all the strain? Scheduling is a major issue.

Rand’s survey of 3,066 employees found that one-third of workers have no control over their schedule. Three-quarters (78 percent) of respondents said they’re required to be “present at their workplace” during business hours, yet just over half (54 percent) reported working the same hours every day.

Heavy workloads are another common complaint. More than one in four respondents lamented not having sufficient time to complete their tasks, which can disrupt personal lives. About half of all people polled confirmed having to work beyond regular office hours to get everything done.

On top of that, there’s hostility.

More than half of the survey’s respondents reported working in “unpleasant and potentially hazardous” conditions. Almost 20 percent report facing a “hostile or threatening social environment.”

Other survey findings include:

  • The workplace is an important source of professional and social support, with more than half of American workers describing their boss as supportive and saying they have very good friends at work.
  • Only 38 percent of workers say their job offers good prospects for advancement. All workers— regardless of education—become less optimistic about career advancement as they become older.
  • Four out of five American workers report that their job provides “meaning” always or most of the time. Older, college-educated men were those most likely to report at least one dimension of meaningful work.
  • Nearly two-thirds of workers experience some degree of mismatch between their desired and actual working conditions, with the number rising to nearly three-quarters when job benefits are taken into account. Nearly half of workers report working more than their preferred number of hours per week, while one in five report working fewer than their preferred number of hours.

This report confirms that the U.S. has a serious workplace culture problem, but communicators can be agents of positive change amid the din of discord, tension and uncertainty. Communications pros of all stripes have the power to boost inclusiveness, streamline processes, alleviate stress, build unity and enhance collaboration with clear, uplifting, consistent communications.

That won’t solve all our workplace problems, but better communication is a solid start.

You can read the full report here.

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