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office life

1 in 5 Americans work in hostile environments, survey finds

According to the new American Working Conditions Survey, many employees in the U.S. don’t feel safe or comfortable in their workplaces.

Created by the Rand Corp., Harvard Medical School, and the University of California, Los Angeles, the report surveyed more than 3,000 U.S. workers to help policymakers understand what’s it like to be an American employee today. What they found is that many of us are stressed and under a variety of external pressures that take a toll.

1 in 5 employees have a hostile workplace

One in five employees surveyed said they were exposed to a “hostile or threatening social environment at work,” a number the researchers called “disturbingly high.” More than half of employees said they faced “unpleasant and potentially hazardous” conditions. But not all employees are being exposed to these conditions at the same rate.

Researchers found that your likeliness to get harassed split along age, gender, and education lines. Younger women were more likely to experience “unwanted sexual attention” at work, while younger men without a college degree were more likely to face “verbal abuse and humiliating behavior.”

Perhaps young women recognize these predatory dangers. A separate poll by Morning Consult in partnership with the New York Times found that younger women policed how they interacted with men more than older women did at work. For that poll, self-policing meant younger women would be more likely to turn down off-hours drinking with male co-workers.

Taxing demands at work

When your boss needs that report yesterday, deadlines can be emotionally exhausting to meet. Two-thirds of Americans said they worked tight deadlines, and one in four said that they had too little time to do their job.

When you lack the time to complete the job on the clock, it carries over into your personal life. Half of the employees surveyed said they do work in their free time to complete work demands.

Getting flexibility at work differed depending on gender, youth, and degrees. Women reported experiencing more difficulty than men in getting time off work to take care of family matters, younger employees had a harder time getting a flexible schedule than older ones, and workers with a college degree said they got more schedule flexibility than those without that degree.

There was one bright spot, however. Four out of five workers said they found their work meaningful in some way, whether that meant feeling satisfied or useful or experiencing some sense of personal accomplishment.

But overall, what this report shows is that when it comes to the American workplace, there’s still a ways to go before it’s a safe environment for all.