Is the average workplace more stressful today than it was five years ago?
The answer to that question is shut up and get back to work. No, wait; the answer to that question is yes, according to a new survey I found while Googling “second careers for burned-out, middle-aged journalists.”
The survey was conducted by Korn Ferry. To my surprise, Korn Ferry is not a misspelling of a despised mythical creature that leaves uncooked maize instead of money beneath the pillows of children who lose their teeth. Neither is it a boat to get a veteran alt-metal band from one side of a river to the other.
Korn Ferry, according to a press release headlined “Professionals in a Pressure Cooker,” is a global consulting firm that works with clients “to design their organizational structures, roles and responsibilities.”
And, if the survey is accurate, many organizations could use some help.
“The vast majority (88 percent) of professionals say that compared to 5 years ago, the stress level in their workplace is higher, with 51 percent saying it is much higher,” reads the new release. “Ninety percent of respondents say they’ve lost sleep due to work stressors, more than a third (34 percent) say stress has gotten so bad that they have called in sick, and even more serious, 34 percent say they’ve had to quit due to stress on the job.”
As the theoretical cigar-chomping, hooch-swilling, skirt-chasing, cholesterol-lowering-medication-taking, underpaid and overworked, 1930s-newspaper-style bureau chief of the fictional yet highly respected Monkey Action News Team, I considered hiring a global consulting firm to oversee a restructuring of our organization to assess stresses in our workplace, but it just wasn’t in the budget after adding a hot tub to my office.
I decided instead to be a nicer boss, starting with our next staff meeting. I summoned my culturally diverse squad of the best guys and gals out there tracking down monkey news — Johnny, Rico, Lulu, Jaafar, Kichiro and Toots — to learn what stories they were working on and share my new-and-improved attitude.
“OK, gang,” I said cheerily, or at least without my typical grimace. “I just read this survey about job stress —”
“Were you Googling second careers for burned-out, middle-aged journalists again, Chief?”
“Why, you little snot-nosed … I mean, that’s a great question, son. All I want here is a nice, stress-free environment where you guys tell me what stories you are working on so I don’t have to kick your cans to the curb.”
“Chief, I’ve got a lead on a story about a Florida woman who spotted what may be herpes-infected monkeys eating oranges off a tree in her backyard in the St. Johns Golf and Country Club neighborhood,” Rico said.
“Nice work, kid. I don’t feel like throwing a stapler at your head — yet. See how stress-free we are? Lulu, what about you?
“I’m following up on a January report of an Indian village fleeing in terror from an attack by 400 monkeys.”
“Monkey attack! That’s solid gold, baby. The public can’t get enough of this stuff. I can almost see my stress melting away. Oh, no, that’s the steam from my hot tub. Johnny, what have you got?”
“Nothing, Chief. I have nothing. I’ve been so stressed out lately I haven’t been able to dig up anything. The demand for monkey-related stories is unrelenting, and your expectations are unreasonably high. Like 28 percent of those surveyed by Korn Ferry, I believe my boss is the biggest stressor at my workplace. I can’t sleep, I feel like I’m 88 percent more stressed than I was five years ago, and I’m 51 percent sure I’m going to throw up in your hot tub.”
“Meeting adjourned! Now shut up and get back to work.”