ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday September 16, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 16
Financial Times  

Young workers stressed out - Sunday Times poll


A majority of Sri Lankans in white collar jobs and junior-to-senior management level positions in the private sector are struggling with a combination of high pressure jobs, little relaxation and possible health problems which is likely to impact on prodctivity and the economic health of the nation in the future, a survey by The Sunday Times FT’s poll shows.

Lack of proper public transport, traffic jams and the latest – delays on the roads due to road closures when VIPs travel – have been cited in the survey as reasons why young workers lead stressful lives. Lack of exercise due to work pressures has also been cited.

The survey by the newspaper on stress in the workplace and pressure to pay bills, among many it has done in the past through email on issues of current interest, was conducted amongst more than 1,000 people including CEO’s, middle level managers, professionals, graduates and office staff. The results were however not surprising and follows a common trend overseas.

More than 83 percent gave a YES response when asked whether their lives are stressful; over 70 percent declared they had little time for their families or a social life; 83 percent said it affected their health; 45 percent said there were some companies who provided a stress-free working environment; while 75 percent said the ‘work hard’ syndrome was also as a result of pressure to pay monthly bills.

One respondent said it’s the infrastructure that takes its toll on young executives. For instance, traveling back home after work is a nightmare for most employees due to a lack of public transport while another noted that service-based industries such as communications and hospitality were more demanding.

“It’s a case of survival of the fittest. Sensitive and emotional people will find it difficult. Sometimes even if you are the best worker, you won’t be able to survive if you don’t have the tools to handle stress,” said a respondent.

On the issue of ‘time for family and socializing’, the responses were varied. One said most executives who have high pressure jobs are usually good at time management and would be in a position to take annual leave of 2/3 weeks per year at a stretch.
However, a working mother said,“All my spare time is spent with my son. Since my husband works abroad I play multiple roles which can be very stressful. So there zero time for social life and relaxation.”

Companies like Virtusa for example provide facilities like a gym or a swimming poll to relieve stress in the workplace, the survey showed. But the health of young workers is a problem as this response showed: “In my office alone there are young people with diabetes, gastritis, high blood pressure and other conditions that arise from little or no well being, not to mention very high stress levels,” a young workers said.

Another said many of ‘us have to juggle ever increasing work and family demands which is an unfortunate byproduct of modern living.’ Working hours keep increasing, family time keeps dwindling, and ‘our’ guilt about the situation grows, another worker said.

“All these lead not only to health issues, but severe social problems. The marriages go through tough times and divorce rates are increasing, children are neglected as both parents have to work to make both ends meet,” she said.

On the question of bills, there was a chorus of complaints. “Private hospitals are killing the people slowly with their bills, especially if there are elderly family members not covered by insurance. insurance companies generally cover only the young and healthy,” another worker added.


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