Survey reveals people’s biggest pre-work stressers

Due to nightmare commutes, worries about the workday, and chaos and home, workers are arriving at work in a high state of stress.

Photo: Alexander Mils

Half the stress of work is getting there – literally.

A survey of over 1,400 full-time UK workers by software company CIPHR found that 45% of respondents said that their commute was their biggest pre-work aggravation. Aside from the twin devils or traffic or the subway, there are other morning conundrums like childcare problems and family mayhem (33%), or simply worrying about that big meeting or what else the workday ahead of them might bring (43%). Workers’ stress begins before they even get out the door, and builds from there.

With so many people arriving at work already under pressure, it was unnerving to hear that 60% said that they had no time to relax and ease their way into the workday. Those that did find some find to cope before the daily grind began sipped coffee or tea (47%), or took a time-out for meditation (47%).

“There is a lot of focus on stress in the workplace and what employers can do to safeguard their employees’ mental health, but this study shows we also need to pay attention to what is causing severe stress to staff before they even set foot in the door,” said Claire Williams, director of people and services at CIPHR, in a release.

“Our study found that more than half of workers are regularly starting their days in a state of high stress, which can only have a negative impact on their productivity and engagement: 46% of workers said pre-work stress is having an adverse effect on their job satisfaction.”

Ways to get less stress?

There are ways to reduce pre-work stress, but mostly for the lucky: those with a shorter commute, for instance, or those who are able to walk or bike to their workplace. Over half (56%) of workers with a commute of under 30 minutes reported that they did not often arrive to work feeling frazzled.

Those who take themselves to work – via walking or biking – are much more relaxed as well. 88% of bikers said they don’t feel stressed when they get to work, and 64% of walkers said the same.

Methods of transportation matter: 71% of those who take public transportation “frequently” arrive at work highly stressed; 52% of drivers do.

In fact, commuting can be so tension-filled that 49% of people said that they’d take a small pay cut in exchange for flexible work hours and work from home arrangements.

“While not everyone has the luxury of living close enough to their place of work to be able to walk, it’s clear that flexible working arrangements and allowing work from home are key conversations to be having with employees who perhaps are suffering as a result of their commute,” Williams said.

Sheila McClear|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at smcclear@theladders.com.