10 Ways to Test Your Job’s Stress Quotient

How stressful is your job? What should you do about it?

Posted Aug 10, 2015

All jobs can be stressful at times – deadlines, conflict with a colleague, a heavy workload.  But how can you tell if your job is TOO stressful?  Here is a way to calculate your job stress.  We’ll also discuss some strategies to alleviate work stressors.

1. Your Boss Is a Bully or a Jerk.  There is nothing more stressful than a boss who belittles you (particularly in front of coworkers), and constantly harasses and bullies you.  If your boss is a bully, give yourself 10 stress points.  If your boss is simply a jerk who is hard to work with, give yourself 5 stress points.  [Find out more about dealing with bullying bosses here].

2. Your Coworkers Make Your Life Miserable.  One of the greatest sources of work stress is interpersonal conflict with coworkers.  If you constantly have to deal with difficult coworkers, give yourself 5 stress points.  If a coworker is a bully who won’t let up, give yourself an additional 5 stress points.

3. The Job Is a Dead End.  Lack of opportunities for promotion and advancement is a major killer of job satisfaction. Being in a job that doesn’t utilize your skills and abilities is also a sign of a dead-end job.  Give yourself 3 stress points if you are in a dead-end job.

4. Your Work Lacks Meaning.  If you are just putting in time on your job, and the work itself has little in the way of meaning and intrinsic rewards this can lead to a lack of motivation and can be somewhat stressful.  If your job is totally devoid of meaning, give yourself 2 stress points.

5. Never Enough Time.  If it seems like you are always running behind on tasks and there isn’t enough time in the day, or days in the week, to get everything done, give yourself 5 stress points.  If the pressure never stops, and you find yourself constantly working overtime hours and days (and don’t want to), give yourself an additional 5 stress points.  Here’s a post on how to work smarter, not harder.

6. Your Job Requires Emotional Labor.  Emotional labor is the term given to work behavior that requires you to keep your emotions in check and always present a pleasant demeanor – the notion of “service with a smile.”  If you are constantly bombarded with nasty customers, disagreeable vendors, or the like, give yourself 5 stress points for the ongoing emotional labor your job requires.

7. The Bureaucracy Is Killing You.  Seemingly meaningless rules and regulations, and lots of red tape that prevents you from doing your job efficiently can be an ongoing source of stress.  If your bureaucracy is just an annoyance, give yourself 2 stress points.  If it is driving you crazy, give yourself 5 stress points.

8. The Working Conditions Suck.  A dangerous work environment, working the graveyard shift, and uncomfortable surroundings can all be sources of stress.  If you have to work under terrible conditions, give yourself 5 stress points.

9. You Are Always Under the Microscope.  Nothing is more stressful than a boss who is constantly looking over your shoulder and criticizing every mistake you make.  It gets worse if all that is ever measured is how much you produce, not the quality of the work or service you provide.  Give yourself 3 stress points if you always feel observed and critiqued.

10. The Job Keeps You Up at Night.  If you are taking your job home and losing sleep over it on a constant basis, this is a sure sign of work stress.  Give yourself 5 stress points if your job keeps you up at night.

There are also positives associated with many jobs, and these “uplifts” can help to counteract or alleviate the effects of job stress.  Here are a few:

You Feel a Real Sense of Accomplishment.  If you feel that your work has real meaning and you are getting important things done, this is a positive.  Take away 3 stress points if you feel a true sense of accomplishment.

You Have Autonomy.  If your job allows you to set your own goals, pace, and evaluate your own performance, this is a plus for many workers.  This is the appeal of being self-employed. Take away 3 stress points if you have autonomy on your job.

You Grow On the Job.  If your organization provides you with good training and development so that you are able to grow your skill set and become more marketable and valuable to the organization, subtract 3 stress points.

You Have Meaningful Relationships With Coworkers.  If one of the best things about your job are your supportive coworkers – the kind of people who you can trust and enjoy their company, then this helps combat stress.  Take away 3 stress points for supportive coworkers.

Total up your stress score.

10 points and under = Your job is relatively stress free

11-20 point = Average stress levels.

21-30 points = Moderate stress. Seek some stress relief

31-40 points = It’s time to take some definite steps to improve things.

41 and above = High-level stress. You need to think about alternatives and take care of your stress levels.

[This is just a guideline, not a validated scale.  Use good sense in interpreting stress levels always.]

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