If there is no appreciation, the stress comes

Survey on stress and work-life balance shows differences between employees and supervisors

Foto: Photographee.eu - fotolia.de

Most of the stress in a work day is caused by people themselves. This is the result of a study with 220 participants by InLoox. According to the study, stressful circumstances such as parallel projects or massive e-mail traffic are not the main causes of stress at work. Instead, particularly the lack of appreciation increases the subjective feeling of stress – with supervisors being more satisfied than employees.

The widespread "burnout" disease is a bugbear for many employees, with many burnout triggers lurking around the workplace every day. What are the major risk factors and what needs to be adjusted in order to create a healthy balance between a fulfilled working life and relaxed leisure time? To answer these questions, InLoox interviewed 220 participants, mainly from the IT / telecommunications and Marketing / Media sectors.

Striking is the result that those who have no superiors are more satisfied with their work situation than employees who do. Almost every interviewed manager or self-employed worker (98 percent) said that they perceive their work as valued, but only 80 percent of the employees with superiors said so. A very clear discrepancy concerning appreciation is reflected in monetary terms: 85 percent of managers are satisfied with their salary, but only about 60 percent of employees.

Also in the assessment of workload, time pressure, successful conflict resolution and the spillover of stress into private spheres of life, the position is the deciding factor. Supervisors assess these aspects strikingly more positively than employees.

Lack of appreciation increases feelings of stress

As the survey showed, the perceived appreciation of a person's work is a crucial factor for the subjective perception of stress: Those who have the feeling that their work is not respected are more stressed. The lack of recognition has negative impacts especially on private life: The vast majority (80 percent) of those who experienced no appreciation for their work indicates that their job has a negative impact on their private life. Among those who feel valued, this number is significantly lower: only around 50 percent see negative impacts.

Every second employee feels under pressure

The perceived workload is relatively high among employees. Only one in two employees feels they have enough time for all their important tasks. 60 percent of respondents spend between one and a half and two and a half hours per day editing their e-mails, and only five percent of respondents are free to focus on only one project. All others work on multiple projects simultaneously. After all, one in five employees stated that he or she already feels exhausted before the workday even starts. Only three percent of managers have this feeling. 19 percent of employees and 12 percent of managers are afraid to suffer a burnout at some point.

Supervisors are more satisfied with themselves

Supervisors are more satisfied with their success than employees: About 70 percent say they have reached rewarding career goals, while only 45 percent of employees indicate this. High expectations of themselves, however, are more prevalent among employees (66 percent) than among the bosses (50 percent). Also in the assessment of their own work performance, employees are often dissatisfied: 45 percent said they have felt more productive some years ago. Only 30 percent of managers feel that way.

How to interpret the results?

Dr. Tatjana Reichhart, senior physician in psychiatry and psychotherapy at the Center for Disease Management (CFDM) of the Technical University of Munich, explains the results based on the findings of her scientific studies: "The realization that supervisors generally are professionally satisfied and feel less stress, is also found in some other scientific studies and can be explained by three factors. Firstly, executives have more room to maneuver and are less dependent on the appreciation of a supervisor. Lack of appreciation is associated with an increased risk of burnout and mental stress, just as the present survey clearly shows. Furthermore, executives tend to be older and have more experience. These two features are associated with a lower burn-out risk, they appear to provide serenity. Another reason for the lower perception of stress in superiors may be just that they already are leaders and do not feel the pressure to "expend" themselves for the next step in their career. However, the findings do not mean that managers generally have no risk of being mentally ill or experiencing burnout. Especially executives in "sandwich positions" can be under great pressure."

Dr. Andreas Tremel, Managing Director of InLoox: "The study shows that it is the feeling of self-determination and recognition that makes even high professional requirements endurable and that prevents stress. This is a clear signal for Managers and Team Leaders: The human element is crucial if you want to keep good employees in the company. But also the employees themselves should not be ashamed to ask for confirmation of their good work."