New study finds working conditions are more grim than experts expected

Bullying

Through their in-depth American Working Conditions Survey (AWCS) of 3,066 U.S. workers, Rand Corp., Harvard Medical School, and the University of California, Los Angeles found that “the American workplace is very physically and emotionally taxing,” CBS reports.

Before you say “I could’ve told you that,” let’s see how bad it really is:

  • 1 in 5: the number who say they face “a hostile or threatening environment at work, which can include sexual harassment and bullying.”
  • 1 in 2: the number who say they face “unpleasant and potentially hazardous” conditions.
  • 3 in 4: the number who say they “spend at least a fourth of their time on the job in ‘intense or repetitive physical’ labor.”
  • 4 in 5: the number who say they’re required to be present at work rather than telecommute.
  • 2 in 5: the number who say “their jobs offer good prospects for advancement. And the older they get, the less optimistic they become.”
  • 1 in 2: the number who say they “work on their own time to meet the demands of their job.”
  • 1 in 3: the number who say they have “no control over their schedules.”

The lesser the education, the tougher the work conditions, meaning those with college degrees can more often take breaks when they want to and lift heavy loads much less often.

College educated workers aren’t off the hook, though. A high percentage of workers, especially women, find it difficult to take time off to deal with personal matters. So while roughly half of workers adjust their personal schedules for employers, employers less often return the same favor.

Toxic working conditions might be keeping Americans out of work. “The percentage of Americans who are working or looking for work — 62.9 percent in July — has not returned to prerecession levels and is well below its 2000 peak of 67.3 percent,” says CBS.

Luckily there’s some good news. “Workers enjoy considerable autonomy: more than 80 percent say they get to solve problems and try out their own ideas. Moreover, 58 percent say their bosses are supportive, and 56 percent say they have good friends at work,” says CBS.

The point is that working conditions matter. Employers: take note.

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