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Employee stress levels are on the rise, increasing almost 20 percent over the last three decades, according to Korn Ferry’s Workplace Stress Continues to Mount survey. The biggest source of stress at work is one’s boss, the survey found, and most respondents reported that a leadership change also affects stress levels. Meanwhile, three-quarters of respondents said workplace stress “had a negative impact on their personal relationships,” two-thirds have lost sleep due to work-related stress and almost one-fifth have quit jobs because stress became too overwhelming. One problem with management stress is that it is often transferred, meaning that managers who feel stress acutely tend to pass it on to their employees by their own high-tension behavior. In other words, management stress is contagious. The corrosive effects from a single manager can ripple throughout the office. Regarding the long-term reasons for the increase in stress, the survey found factors such as “the threat of losing a job to technology” and “the pressure to learn new skills just to stay employed.”

Another common source of stress not cited by the survey is the demise of long-term job stability and the frequency with which many companies undergo management reorganizations. The feeling of long-term loyalty that once existed between manager and company is now gone, or at least greatly diminished in many organizations. This can create a near-permanent level of anxiety, where managers are often looking over their shoulders wondering if the next reorganization is around the corner and what it will mean for them. This translates, unfortunately, into more stress.

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