Job stress is a vicious cycle.

The vicious cycle of job stress

A bunch of job-related research that came out last month makes it surprising any of us have our jobs — or our sanity.

One claimed we weren’t getting enough sleep and should take more sick days. But another claimed we used our sick days to run errands, and a third said job stress is what’s making us sick and sleepless. Let’s take the studies documenting this vicious cycle in turn…

Sleep is for the unemployed

More than three quarters of workers feel tired most days of the week, according to The Virgin Pulse Institute, an employee wellness company attached to Virgin Group. And you might as well come to work drunk.

“Showing up to work sleep deprived can be the equivalent of showing up to work intoxicated,” study co-author Jennifer Turgiss says. “Employees who don’t sleep well have poorer concentration, poorer decision making abilities, are significantly less able to cope with stressful situations, and are more likely to make unhealthy choices.”

VPI’s sleep study involving more than 1,100 American employees says about a third of us are unhappy with our sleep quality or quantity. But we find ways to deal with it — like snoozing on the job.

The study found 40 percent of employees “doze off during the day” once per month, and 15 percent do at least once per week.

I’m taking a vacation — to the DMV

People blow their vacation days on basically everything except vacation, according to Ocean City, a place in Maryland that would like you to vacation there instead of other stupid places.

That’s when they take paid time off at all. The city’s survey of 1,500 adults found 43 percent of respondents roll over vacation days to the following year, and 16 percent have lost vacation days they didn’t use. Less than half always use up all their paid time off.

Here are some of the exciting activities participants said they’ve used vacation days for in the past:

  • Medical appointments (45 percent)
  • Visiting the post office or bank (38 percent)
  • Waiting on the plumber or cable guy (28 percent)
  • Visiting the department of motor vehicles (15  percent)
  • Gardening (16 percent)

At least you can get a tan from that last one.

Work after 5? That’s not fair

In a survey of 500 employees from says IdeaPaint, a company that turns walls into whiteboards, 59 percent said the office is noisy. About half reported too-frequent interruptions of their work.

One solution? Work later. Most respondents (57 percent) said they were sometimes required to be available beyond standard working hours. No wonder people need a vacation they can’t have.

And younger people hate it. “Millennial workers now represent 25 percent of the total U.S. workforce,” IdeaPaint says, and a third of them “believe it is ‘unacceptable’ for employers to expect them to be available beyond standard working hours.” More than half said it was important to limit work communications when they’re not on the clock.

Working for charity is less satisfying than retail

Wholesale trade is the most satisfying field to work in, according to a survey of more than 2,000 adults commissioned by Rasmussen College. (No association with the Rasmussen polling company.) A whopping 87 percent of respondents in that field are happy in their current jobs.

Here are some other top fields…

Do you have too much job stress or are you satisfied?

Interesting that the financial industry has the largest number of people unsure whether they’re satisfied or not. At the other end of the spectrum, the fields with the lowest satisfaction tend to be ones that don’t require a degree:

  • Construction (64 percent satisfied)
  • Retail (61 percent)
  • Charity / non-profit (59 percent)
  • Transportation and storage (55 percent)
  • Automotive (50 percent) 

Boss, you make me sick

If you don’t like your job, you can always go somewhere else. A lot of people do, according to a survey of nearly 1,000 job-seekers by Monster.

It found that 42 percent of workers have “purposely changed jobs due to a stressful work environment.” An additional 35 percent have thought about it, and these other stats make it hard to blame them:

  • Over 60 percent say job stress has literally made them sick.
  • Nearly half say they’ve missed time at work because of job stress.
  • Many say job stress has caused sleepless nights (26 percent), depression (24 percent), and relationship issues (21 percent).
  • Two-thirds said their employers do nothing to alleviate stress.

The top reasons for stress include supervisor relationship (40 percent), workload (39 percent), work-life balance (34 percent) and coworker relationships (31 percent). And it’s hard to work on any of those when nobody ever lets you sleep at your desk.

What can you do to break the cycle? Here are the ideas respondents liked best…

The best ways to deal with job stress.

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