Is America Suffering from 'Desk Rage?'

Mounting layoffs and a slowing economy are reinforcing a growing phenomenon of "desk rage" in America, with increased numbers of employees having arguments and breaking down under pressure.

The Second Annual "Desk Rage" Survey of American workers" finds that 23 percent of American workers have been driven to tears as a result of workplace stress, with 10 percent saying they work in an atmosphere where physical violence has occurred. The study was released this week by Integra Realty Resources Inc., the nation's largest real estate advisory and appraisal firm.

  • One in 10 Americans say they work in an atmosphere where physical violence has occurred because of stress, with 42 percent saying their workplace is a place where yelling and verbal abuse takes place.
  • While only 1 percent of Americans say workplace stress has caused them personally to strike a co-worker, 29 percent admit to yelling at co-workers because of stress.
  • Almost one in four American workers have been driven to tears because of workplace stress, and 12 percent work where machinery or equipment has been damaged through workplace rage.

"Stress over America's slowing economy is showing up in the workplace though routinely high levels of 'desk rage,'" says Sean Hutchinson, president of Integra Realty Resources in New York. "As America experiences its highest jobless rate in six years, the strain is making itself felt throughout the employment food chain."

Nationwide, nearly one out of every 10 workers say workplace stress is a major problem for them - making them prime candidates for outbursts of desk rage. And nearly two-thirds of American workers (61 percent) say workplace stress is a problem for them at least occasionally.

One of ten workers has called in sick because of workplace stress, and one of five American workers has quit a job in the past because of stress.

Real estate issues may play a key role in America's stressful workplace, according to the study. "One of 8 American workers (12 percent) say that overcrowded physical conditions have contributed to their workplace stress," notes Hutchinson.

Some 11 percent of all Americans say they now work in a cubicle "like the cartoon character Dilbert," with that figure rising to 15 percent for white collar workers and 24 percent for high-rise workers. Among other real estate-related issues, 13 percent of those surveyed say they have concerns about the safety of their workplace or its parking lot, and 23 percent say it's time for their employer to redecorate.

Other causes of stress: unreasonable deadlines, excessive personal workload, working more than 12 hours per day, skipping lunch to work, the rudeness of co-workers or clients, too much caffeine, and excessive e-mail.

According to the survey, workplace stress has caused 30 percent of Americans to be unable to sleep; has driven 23 percent of Americans to consume excessive alcohol; has caused 17 caused to smoke in excess and has driven 23 percent to eat chocolate.

Large numbers of American workers say they are a physical wreck, with 58 percent complaining of workplace-related back or neck pain; 40 percent complaining of stressed out eyes; and 34 percent complaining of hurting hands.

Nearly one-quarter of the employees surveyed said that being able to telecommute might ease their stress.

edited by Sandy Smith ([email protected])

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