How stressful is your work?

The Ticker

June 17, 1991|By Julius Westheimer

Do you realize that three out of four Americans say they're bothered by job stress?

According to Men's Health, August, "some top causes of job strain are a heavy workload but little control so you have the feeling that the company doesn't care what you think, being caught between two bosses with completely different agendas or between a miserly manager and hard-to-please customers, office politics, erratic or late hours, daily deadlines, etc."

Here, in order, are the most stressful jobs: inner-city school teacher ("jammed classes, old books, kids who pack weapons instead of lunch"), policeman ("always uncertain what's behind the next door"), air traffic controller ("may untangle 14 planes at once"), medical intern, firefighter, waiter ("don't laugh; high-demand/low-control job, diners skimp on tips if food is late, but he can't control cook.")

More high-stress jobs, in order: assembly-line worker, customer-service representative, securities trader, newspaper editor ("one ear on phone, other on police radio, while three underpaid, overcaffeinated reporters rifle through his desk"), advertising excecutive, public-relations person, middle-level manager ("corporate pawn, forced to follow boss's bidding, often hated by those he supervises"), salesman, attorney, urban bus driver, roofer, real-estate agent, politician, banker, tax examiner.

And, from the same magazine, the least stressful occupations: forest ranger, craftsman, musical-instrument repairer, natural scientist, industrial machine repairman, actuary, librarian, piano tuner and barber.

COPING WITH STRESS: To lower job tension, the article advises that you get enough sleep, work a four-day week, try to analyze things that set you off ("Ask yourself, 'How important really is this?' "); take the long view ("every time a commitment comes up -- meeting, concert, dinner -- ask yourself if you'll care about the event in five years; if so, accept. If not, decline."), reserve some private time, calm yourself one muscle at a time, make your life story positive ("Fill your life with healthy pleasures"), count your blessings, if you can't control it, don't sweat it ("If traffic jams upset you, get a car phone."), etc.

PENNY-PINCHING: Are pennies slipping away, cutting your business profits? Success magazine for June, runs a cover story, "Brave New Tight-Wads," with these and many other suggestions: "Cut bosses' salaries 10 percent; use both sides of computer paper; use backs of order pads for scratch paper; have U.S. Postal Service print your return address on envelopes (it's cheaper); have post office take customer lists and generate ZIP-plus-four data on computer disks, etc."

JUNE JOURNAL: Second quarter estimated tax payments must be postmarked by midnight tonight. . . Speaking of taxes, if you don't know what your bracket is, call Franklin Fund (800-342-5236) for free slide-rule-like device that figures it out for every state and 28 or 31 percent federal brackets. . . Also, Oppenheimer Fund Management (800-525-7048) offers a similar gadget that lets you determine growth of an IRA depending on many factors. . . "Evidence at hand predicts a business recovery." (Investment Counselors of Maryland, June). . . "Norwalk, Conn., food store policy: Rule 1: Customer is Always Right. Rule 2: If Customer is Ever Wrong, Reread Rule 1." (Nation's Business). . . The Rouse Co.'s house organ, "Profile," now uses recycled paper. . . "Always make cover letters short and snappy; brevity is the rule." (National Business Employment Weekly). . . "Cellular phones distract drivers." (AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.").

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