The latest research from ComPsych, the world's largest employee assistance program provider (, confirms what most of us already know: We are stressed out at work. Some 48 percent of employees today report high levels of stress coupled with extreme fatigue and a sense of feeling out of control. Another 38 percent report constant, but manageable, stress levels. The other 14 percent didn't have time to complete the survey.

I made that up. The remaining 14 percent of respondents reported low stress levels. (Where do they work?)

On the Edge

What would cause almost half of the employee population to be on the verge of losing it at work?

Forty-one percent of employees cited their workload. Most jobs today expect employees to do more work with less. With the amount of streamlining, consolidation, and cutbacks that have taken place in most organizations, the portion of work per employee has increased.

Thirty-one percent of employees cited “people issues.” This can include a wide range of problems, from difficult coworkers to demanding customers.

Twenty-eight percent of employees cited “juggling work and personal life.” Rather than relaxing and unwinding when they get off work, most employees face another slate of pressures when they get home. From shuttling kids to worrying about finances, the home can be a major source of stress.

Tips to Take Away

Here are some techniques you can use to fight stress in your job:

Focus on what you can do

You can only do one thing at a time, so identify the most important thing you need to do and then work on it. If your highest priority work is a large task, break it into smaller, more doable tasks. If you get bogged down, take a break and focus on your second-level work. Take time occasionally to eliminate the lowest priority tasks from your “to do” list — it's OK not to do everything!

Create options for proceeding

The things we can't control tend to cause us the greatest stress. By creating options for how to get things done, you gain a sense of control over your circumstances. Giving choices to others — whether it's your boss or the customer — helps to reduce their stress as well.

Take a break

Stretch, take a walk, or discuss the situation with another person to release your stress and gain perspective. You are more apt to stay fresh, renew your energy, and keep focused.

Bob Nelson, PhD, is president of Nelson Motivation Inc., San Diego, and a best-selling author. His latest book is The 1001 Rewards & Recognition Fieldbook. For more information, visit, call (800) 575-5521, or e-mail