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Stress on the Job: The Recruiter's Perspective

Since nearly 70% of Americans say they’re stressed about work, I decided to tackle the topic on Good Morning America, where I’ve been the workplace contributor for five years.

To prep for today’s segment, I asked women to write to me about their experiences.

I got a flood of emails in response—honest and heartfelt (heartbreaking too) letters that described workplace nightmares that caused them to quit, damaged their self-esteem, or left them doubting that real solutions may exist.

“I cry in the parking lot every morning. The panic in my bones is so severe and the worst part is that my manager knows it and does nothing to help those of us who feel helpless and hopeless about tripling our workload since laying off our dedicated colleagues. I don’t know how much longer this pace can continue without giving me a heart attack or worse.”

“My boss is secretive, my co-worker is sneaky, and the environment is so toxic. We’re encouraged to compete, to backstab, to out do everyone else. Who can live this way in peace? It’s turning me into a monster at home because I’m at my wits end. My kids fear the mood I’ll be in, which is awful since I’ve always been a very happy person—until now.”

And then there’s this one, which was echoed by many of those who shared their stories:

“My boss routinely tells us we can spend the day at the unemployment office if we don’t like it here. I can’t quit this job because my husband is out of work and my paycheck is the only thing that keeps a roof over our heads and food on the table. What can I do?”

I offered some suggestions in my TV segment, but I’d really like to hear from you—our friends and colleagues on the front lines in human resources and recruiting.

While wearing your company hat, what advice would you offer to this person if she worked at your company? Would the advice be different if you were talking to a friend?

Please tell us here—and you’re welcome to post anonymously. Just don’t include your name.


  1. JoAnn Clayton

    Not only did I have to lay off 40 of my colleagues and friends, my mother died last year, I was going through a very sad divorce and my 13 year old was struggling in school. Three things that keep me from going off the deep end: my trust and faith in God, morning and evening prayer when I think of at least 5 things that keep my glass half full and exercise when I can squeeze it in. You have to focus on the things you can control- you can’t control your boss, or the stock market- but you can bring an attitude to each day to lift up others and can have self discipline in your spending. I make to do lists so I can see what I’ve accomplished and focus on the top 5 items to get done for the next day. I’ve hired 15 people since January – and our company (125 ees) is getting stronger every day. We all have to have a recovery mindset- just take one day at a time and be thankful for what we have, not focusing on what we have lost.

  2. S

    I know the feeling, I was fired from 2 jobs because of not being able to keep up with the demands of the jobs which were very stressful and left me with high blood pressure. Now I’m on another job in which the blood pressure is out of control and I have to take medication. The stress is so much I developed Bell’s Palsy and the only thing that relieved the pain in my neck (trapezius muscles) was accupuncture. Currently I look like I had oral surgery or a stroke. How can I look for another job like this?

  3. Check into a book called Reslience at Work by Salvatore Maddi. His work on Hardiness and the 3Cs is very useful in coping and thriving in the workplace. They consist of Committment, Control, and Challenge. I personally used them along with sharing them with employees in support groups and large meetings during a plant closing and found them to be very effective. It was acutally part of my Counseling Master’s Thesis and research project. Another approach is to look at how much one’s expectations enter into frustration and anger. While our expectations may be reasonable they may not be practical or will ever happen. The question becomes how can I change me. One can also do some self talk after the bully does something such as say, “Well here they go again,” or “Consider the source.” Check out the book on bullying called The No A__ Hole Rule by Stanford Professor Robert Sutton.

  4. pss

    The women in administration at Dior are female bullies, they routinely destroy and vindictively emotionally abuse their team members. I know that the Paris office would be abhorred by the cruelty in their Manhattan office. It absolutely and unequivocally is unproductive and damages the ability of the company to prosper. Many many qualified, intelligent, skilled and talented women get puked out of the company on a regular basis by some truly horrible administrators/managers. Time to investigate what luxury costs in just more than products…

  5. G

    Like “S” stated above, the stress on these jobs are being manifested physically on our bodies. My job was literally killing me! I have constant neck and back pain, my emotional and mental state, as well as my self-esteem and confidence have been shattered by the stress of my job. The underhanded and manipulative co-workers and staff, the lack of training and management support, and the excessive work load all contributed to this. I’m a single parent of 3, and I couldn’t and wouldn’t just quit my job, without having another. I worked so many hours trying to do the job of both the director and the manager that I neglected the most important things in my life, my health and my children, because of the obligation and need I had to provide for my family. When I had to go out on medical leave because of my health (diabetes, blood pressure both out of control. neck, shoulder, and back sprain), that’s when it all just hit me like a ton of bricks. I sank deep into depression and am working very hard to pull myself up. My mindset is not conducive to interviewing. I used to be very confident about my skill set. At 48 years old, I’m trying to figure out what I want to do as a career. What I do know is that I want to do a great job, be it for myself or an employer, make a descent amount of money, then go home and enjoy my life and my family. I could care less about a job title, management responsibilities, or climbing the corporate ladder. That’s how stressful my job was.

  6. Danielle

    It just amazes me that employers place so much stock in such high pressure, results driven workplaces. Don’t they realize that they are costing themselves exess dollars in disability claims due to stress? They haven’t gotten the memo that stress related disability is on the rise!!! I am off on disability myself due to this very fact. And I am beyond the allotted Family Leave time, but I would rather work part time at Target and Walmart than to continue to work for a respected employer (In consumer’s eyes) than to be disrespected continually by metrics that are set so high that I don’t care to keep up. Not to mention that the work hours are constantly changing that workers are unable to attend school to enhance their skill set by attending school. I refuse to work there until I have a stroke and die making money for a company that is getting richer and paying me pennies. I value my life more…

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