women, stress, and the workplace


Women are making greater strides than ever before, both at work and at home.

Not only are we making our way into leadership ranks across all industries, but we’re also bringing home the funds to support our families.

But these advancements come with a price. As women workers struggle with the weight of balancing work and family, we’re stressed out.

While stress affects both genders, our recent Randstad Engagement Study found that it has a greater impact on women workers, with 27 percent of women (compared to 22% of men) citing stress as a top reason to leave their current job. Read more about our Randstad Engagement Study findings on stress in the workplace!

Our findings coincide with a recent survey from the American Psychological Association, which found that one-third of employees experience chronic stress related to work – and women reported higher levels of work stress than men.

“We Do, Do, Do, and Overdo”
Rebecca Rosen, senior editor at The Atlantic, recently dove into the topic of women and stress and the struggle to achieve work-life balance. Guilt, Rosen noted, was an underlying reason why we push ourselves so hard to excel both at work and home:

“We’re working more hours—more extreme hours … Our standards for what it takes to be a good parent, particularly a good mother, are insanely high and out of proportion to all reality. We all feel like we’re not doing enough for our children, so in our guilt, we do, do, do, and overdo: more lessons, more teams, more sports, bigger birthday parties, more educational outings. And we all feed off each other—particularly as we look to the future, see a changing global economy and so much uncertainty about what “success” will look like.”

Stress Take Its Toll
The heavy weight of stress is taking a physical toll, the Wall Street Journal notes, and it can negatively impact all the things that help productivity, including mental clarity, short-term memory, decision-making and moods. What’s more, the article added, women tend to internalize, which contributes to their stress because they hesitate to speak up for themselves or challenge behaviors they see as unfair.” 

Take Control of Stress
The key to managing stress in today’s fast-paced workplace is taking a disciplined approach to finding balance and maintaining your own well-being. Forbes writer Judy Martin offers these five daily rituals on conquering stress in the workplace:

  • Get Inspired: Get up early and spend a few moments with yourself. Set one goal for the day, whether it be staying focused, connecting more with colleagues or having a better attitude.
  • Assess Your Workday: When you get to the office, hold off on incoming emails or phone calls and address your to-do list first.  Assess and prioritize.
  • Step Away From Your Desk:  Try to have a moment during your day when you step away from technology. Go for a walk and get your blood flowing – even breathing exercises can energize you.
  • Beat the mid-day slump: The middle of the day can turn into a stressful time as you work to get tasks accomplished before you leave.  Switch things up, take your mind off work for a minute or two, and re-focus.
  • Re-Assess: Before you leave work, look over what you completed to get a handle on your progress. If you didn’t accomplish all of your daily goals, there’s always tomorrow.

More helpful advice? De-stress by de-cluttering. Eliminating clutter, at the office, at home, in your car, or even in your handbag, is one of the easiest ways to decrease stress in your life.  Start by throwing away the stack of outdated magazines you keep thinking you’re going to read, according to Martha Lanier, who contributed to the book 303 Solutions for Dropping Stress & Finding Balance.

Be Aware and Find a Supportive Network
Rosen, of The Atlantic, notes that cultural pressures can play a big part in our efforts to maintain such a harried, stressful pace. It’s important to find the right support network, she said, and to recognize our tendencies to overachieve. “We sometimes create busyness in order to conform to this social ideal, that to be worthy is to be busy,” she wrote. “I don’t say this to blame people. I do it, too. But the only way to change it, if we don’t like it, is to first be aware of it, be aware of that urge to conform, to be worthy, to be enough, which sometimes drives us unconsciously.”

When all else fails, laugh. Laughter is nature’s best stress reliever!