Most say they feel some stress at workFeel stressed at...

WORKPLACE & CAREERS

October 16, 1992|By Kim Clark

Most say they feel some stress at work

Feel stressed at work? You're not alone. In fact, you're in the majority.

More than 50 percent of workers in a nationwide study said they felt "some degree" of job burnout. And nearly 40 percent said job worries sometimes interfere with their sleep.

The survey, of 28,000 workers by the St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Co., also found that Marylanders and other Easterners reported the highest workloads. Easterners complained the most that they "didn't have enough hours in the work day."

The No. 1 cause of stress across the country: troublesome supervisors.

The study also found that while we might be working harder and longer these days, we might not be working better.

Workers with balanced lives outside the job -- those who have family and friends nearby and who do things for fun on their off hours -- were much less likely to feel job burnout.

The insurance company concluded that increasing hours doesn't always increase productivity, especially if the additional work hours deprive employees of relaxation time.

Internships said to help in getting good jobs

Attention, students: Work internships, even unpaid ones, improve your chances of getting good jobs.

Studies show that students who spend a summer or a semester volunteering or working in their field -- even as few as 10 hours a week -- get jobs faster. And they're more likely to be promoted into management than are non-interns, says Andrew Ciofalo, an associate professor at Loyola College in Baltimore who has just edited a book on the subject.

Although hiring prospects are dim these days, Mr. Ciofalo said, there is good news for internship-seekers.

"Internships always increase during hard economic times," he explained. "Companies need workers whom they don't have to pay, or pay as highly as regular workers."

Because most workplaces are short-handed these days, interns often get choice assignments, he says.

But not all internships are created equal. Many businesses don't know how to structure the programs so that the students really learn the necessary skills.

At WJZ-TV, which Mr. Ciofalo praised as one of the best local internship sponsors, the news and public relations departments take in a new class of 15 interns every four months or so, said Mabel Fox, who coordinates the program.

The station gets unpaid helpers, a chance to screen potential employees and something intangible: "It is nice to see a student grow," said Ms. Fox.

And it is good for the students, too. They get credit for a course. They also get "a lot of responsibility," Ms. Fox said.

They also get a lot of attention. Each department has a supervisor charged with taking care of the interns.

And Ms. Fox says she makes sure the students don't spend all their time making copies or answering telephones.

"One thing we've all learned is not to take advantage of interns."

Md. manufacturers passing on health costs

As health insurance costs soar, Maryland manufacturers lead the way in passing the increases on to others.

In a regional survey, the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond found that 38 percent of Maryland manufacturers are absorbing all the increase in insurance premiums.

That's the lowest share in the South Atlantic region. On average, half the manufacturers from South Carolina to Maryland are absorbing the costs.

About a quarter of all companies, including those in Maryland, are passing on the costs to their employees.

But Maryland manufacturers were most likely to cope by reducing coverage or passing on the costs to customers.

John R. Beever, the fourth generation of his family to run the architectural millwork firm of John Dittmar & Sons Inc. in Rosedale, said his company has always absorbed increases in health insurance for workers -- until this year.

This year he met with his 44 employees to describe the continuing increases in costs and the tough competition in their industry. Dittmar hasn't raised its prices in five years, but its health bill rose 6 percent this year.

So Mr. Beever asked his workers to share the increase.

"It didn't amount to a big sock for them" -- an individual will pay 82 cents a week -- "but it gets them involved" in their health insurance plan, he said.

Increasingly, 2 salaries vital to support a family

Here's more evidence that it takes two wage earners to support a family these days:

New York City's Department of Consumer Affairs reports that it takes 82.2 weeks of wages to support the average family with 2.6 members.

Back in 1973, much less supplementary income was needed. The same family's costs would have taken 65.4 weeks of wages.

The reason for all this: The average American earned $10.03 an hour in 1990. That's down from the $11.31 (in inflation-adjusted dollars) that the same worker earned in 1973.

The study showed how costs have risen faster than wages. It took 5.37 years' salary to buy a house in 1990, up from 3.68 years in 1973.

In the same period, college educations almost doubled in price, to 39.6 weeks' salary in 1990, and the price of a doctor's visit more than tripled, to 7.5 hours of work.

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