This Is What Makes You Stressed at Work, According to New Study

The answer may surprise you.

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By Nina Zipkin

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We spend most of our life at work, so it makes sense that many of our key stressors stem from obligations at the office. A recent study from job search platform Comparably found that 65 percent of workers reported that workplace stress has been an issue for them.

When asked about the biggest stressor on the job, the top concern wasn't a commute or bad management -- those were tied for second place. Forty-one percent of respondents put "unclear goals" as the top reason for stress. Difficult co-workers were third, and then too-long hours came in last.

A third of women respondents and nearly half of men reported that those undefined work goals created more stress than anything else they dealt with at work. And more than half of women and half of men reported feeling burnt out at work.

The study found that the type of stress you experience does vary somewhat based on the type of job you do, but executives, admins and customer service reps all put unclear goals as their number one stressor.

Fifty-seven percent of workers with a high school education reported feeling burnout, 53 percent of workers with a college education and 55 percent with a master's degree said the same.

Related: 5 Simple Tactics for Managing Founder Stress

The employees that feel the most burnout, at 59 percent, are those in entry-level positions. In cohorts that had one to three years and then six to 10 years under their belts, 56 percent reported feeling burnout. And then 54 percent of workers with three to six years on the job and then over 10 years said they felt burnout.

People in the 26-30 and 41-45 age ranges ranked work-life balance as most important work benefit. Those in the 18-25 and 31-35 cohorts chose it second-most often. And for people aged 36-40, work-life balance was tied for first place.

As far as how that stress manifests itself, 45 percent said that they were afraid of stagnation in their careers, followed by having a breakdown caused by stress at 23 percent and then being overlooked for a promotion at 19 percent, rounding out the top three.

So with this knowledge in mind, what can you do to set the tone and help ameliorate stress at work for your employees? Regular check-ins and reviews with your employees to help them articulate and execute on their personal goals, and, on your end, giving them insight into the road ahead for the company so you can work together to accomplish major milestones.

Nina Zipkin

Entrepreneur Staff

Staff Writer. Covers leadership, media, technology and culture.

Nina Zipkin is a staff writer at She frequently covers leadership, media, tech, startups, culture and workplace trends.

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