Survey: 35% of U.S. employees say they have chronic work stress

Lauren Weber and Sue Shellenbarger, The Wall Street Journal, 3/4/13

Too much work, too little money and not enough opportunity for growth are stressing us out on the job, according to a new survey from the American Psychological Association: one-third of employees experience chronic stress related to work. Women report higher levels of work stress than men, as well as a gnawing sense they are underappreciated and underpaid. 54% of the 1,501 employed adults surveyed say they feel they are paid too little, and 61% said their jobs don't offer adequate opportunities to advance. Only half of the adults polled said they feel valued at work. The annual survey found the proportion of chronically stressed individuals has shrunk to 35% this year, compared with 41% in 2012, suggesting an improving economy and job market are making some people's work lives easier. But smaller percentages reported satisfaction with their jobs and work-life balance compared with 2012 -- two areas that had been on the upswing.  Too much stress is harmful to individuals and companies, says David Posen, a physician and author. "Chronic stress reduces all of the things that help productivity -- mental clarity, short-term memory, decision-making and moods," Dr. Posen says. Work has invaded every hour of the day, including time once reserved for personal care. Experts say we can't even count on vacations to help us decompress. [Another] survey released last week by the consulting firm Accenture found 75% of respondents work frequently or occasionally during paid time off. The most common activity was checking email -- 71% reported doing this -- but 30% said they participated in conference calls, and 44% said they use these nominal days off to catch up on work.  


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Commentary: Stressed out about making budget? Reprioritizing goals may help.

Joanne Steller, TRG Arts, 2/26/13

Lack of time, money and proper staff get in the way of arts organizations achieving their top priority goals, TRG Arts found in its recent survey. This won't come as a surprise to anyone who's worked in the arts industry for any amount of time.  This may surprise you though: survey responses revealed a disconnect between the importance of patrons as a revenue stream and what arts practitioners do every day on the job. Virtually every responder working in a broad range of large and small arts organizations said that patrons -- what they do and how they invest -- are a critical revenue source.  Yet in their workday priorities it is the short-term needs of the organization, not the lifetime needs of the patron, that take precedence. Survey respondents indicated following as top priorities: Making budget (68%); Deploying immediate campaigns (42%); Managing expenses, working on new initiatives, or planning for the future (33%). Of course, we could defend [these priorities] as patron-centric. Campaigns do support patron revenue and making budget is critical to maintaining patron programs. However, both are immediate, "this season" issues.  The bigger finding is that only 18% of respondents mentioned understanding or knowing patrons better among top priorities. In the context of multiple, competing priorities, the goal of knowing patrons better inevitably gets set aside awaiting more time, money or staff that may or may not ever materialize.  The survey corroborated TRG's recent field observation that too often every priority is important and every initiative has short-term goals.  There is no clear focus on the patron as a sustaining asset. Serving audiences and increasing their loyalty is not only a mission-critical goal for most organizations; it's also the surest way to measurably increase sustaining revenue.


Commentary: Stressed out about fundraising? Here's how to improve things.

Katya Andresen of Network for Good, LinkedIn post, 1/17/13

I'm going to tell you some facts about an industry I know well:

1. Retention rates are a horrible 41%

2. Half of the employees say they want to quit their job

3. One quarter of bosses say they fired the last worker in that job

You're probably thinking, seriously? What industry is that broken? The answer? Fundraising. Why are things such a mess? Here are the short answers: Nonprofits do a poor job of thanking donors and reporting on their impact; they don't hire qualified fundraisers; and they leave their fundraisers off in a departmental wilderness, insufficiently supported by leadership, the board, technology and strong strategic plans. My advice is this. Before you take a job in nonprofit fundraising (and there are lots of vacant jobs out there!) or hire a fundraiser, do the following.

1. Confirm the nonprofit organization warmly embraces the need to fundraise. As explained by Kim Klein, "Money is one of the great taboos in our culture. We are taught not to think about it or ask about it... As with the subjects of sex, death, mental illness, religion, politics, and other taboos, people say little about their experiences with money. With people so carefully taught that it is rude to talk about money, it's certainly not an easy task to ask for it."

2. Ensure the organization sees fundraising as everyone's job -- as reflected in the way the leadership, board and staff collaboratively support and coordinate with the development director. Together, they set and hold themselves collectively accountable for goals.

3. Make sure the fundraiser is well trained -- or can get trained. A huge problem is that many fundraisers aren't qualified for the job. One in four executive directors said their development directors have no experience or are novice at "current and prospective donor research." Among the smallest nonprofits, the number was 32%. If you're a fundraiser, get well trained. And if you're a nonprofit, hire qualified people or invest in turning your fundraisers into qualified people by paying for them to get the help they need to do their job.

4. One last, critical thought: All nonprofits and fundraisers must invest in treating donors like partners, thanking them regularly and conscientiously reporting on the impact they had.


Commentary: Stressed-out artist manager? Don't take setbacks personally.

excerpt from "Artist Management for the Music Business" by Paul Allen

Perhaps the best strategy an artist manager can use to handle the pressures of managing within the music business is to learn to put stressors in perspective. The most effective artist managers are those who are not prone to take the actions or inactions of others personally. The following are some of the realities in the music business that have the potential to create stress.

Reality #1: A lot of people will say "no," and a lot of gatekeepers will seem immovable. Finding out what the gatekeeper needs and using it as a way to gain access is one strategy. Another way to get past gatekeepers is to find someone in your network who can open that door for you. Build [a] network and use it.

Reality #2: You are a "player" in the music business only if you are relevant. If your calls are not returned or your emails are not acknowledged, it is not personal. You must be able to demonstrate to others that you and your artists are relevant to the continued success of the other person's business.

Reality #3: Keeping the spirits of your artists up during a career roller coaster will be draining for you. Finding a way to cope with disappointment at the personal level and then being able to find a way to keep up the spirits of the artist is always a challenge for the manager.

Reality #4: People will string you along. Some in the industry will tell others whatever is necessary to get them off the phone or off their doorstep if they think the individual has nothing to contribute to their business. A frequent tactic is "They're tied up in a meeting. May I put you into their voice mail?" The second time you hear "I'll get back to you in a couple of days on that," move on. Don't allow people to string you along -- they're wasting your time.

Reality #5: People will disappoint you. Anticipate that, but be pleased when they deliver on their promises. Advice to artist managers: always follow through with your promises because it helps define your character to others.

Reality #6: The agendas of many people in the music business determine whether you matter to them. Recognizing [this and other] realities of the music business environment can help the manager step away from an issue, realize it is not personal, and minimize an emotional response to a business situation.

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