Stressed at Work?
To prep for a Good Morning America segment this morning on stress in the workplace, I asked women to write to me about it.
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 solutions may exist.
“It was to the point that I was vomiting before going to work in the final months out of pure dread because every week my supervisor was b*tching (excuse my French) about something and nitpicking,” said D. “I don’t regret leaving that job one bit, even in this economy.”
K talked about being forced to take a severance package from her $50,000 a year sales job—just months after a painful bought with cancer that naturally reduced her productivity at work.
“Now at 59 I am unemployed and a cancer survivor, two strikes against me in this youth oriented culture,” she wrote. “Tory, I worked 43 years and paid taxes every year and now society just wants to toss me aside when I look, feel and have the energy of a 30 year old. It is not right! Prior to my illness, I ran circles around the kids in their 20s and 30s, had a better work ethic, shut my cell phone off at work and did not surf the net, except for professional matters.”
And another woman, B, wrote about leaving a “toxic environment” at a call center with abusive managers.
“The stress was incredible,” she said. “My family complained that I was always cranky, I couldn’t sleep well. I was gaining weight. I was an absolutely miserable person to be around because I was so frustrated and angry. I couldn’t enjoy personal outings or hobbies because I was always stressed about the work that needed to be done, even on weekends and evenings. We were expected to be on calls night and day with people from the other half of the world.”
D has found a part-time job and B has moved on as well. “A place that respects their employees is invigorating,” she told me. “I’m happy. I even look forward to coming to work in the morning. My kids have commented that I’m much more fun to be around and they don’t have to be scared of me yelling at them anymore (isn’t that sad?). I can enjoy life. I am taking care of myself again, and have regained my confidence in my abilities.”
Good for them.
But as I read these e-mails and countless others like them, one thing kept coming back to me again and again: It shouldn’t be this way—and it doesn’t have to be this way.