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Two years ago a friend confided that she was concerned after two of the four other workers in her department were laid off. She – the department manager – and the two remaining workers had assumed their workload.

A year later, another worker was laid off, leaving just two in her department. Again, she said, they picked up the slack, even though it meant considerable unpaid overtime for both of them.

She balked at the suggestion that she needed to work smarter, not just longer. She said the work had to be done by someone and she had no other choice.

It’s a year later and she is a physical and emotional wreck. Her remaining coworker is leaving soon. There is a breaking point to this stress and she may have already passed it. Unless she cuts back on her workload, her whole life is going to be adversely affected.

A recent survey by OfficeTeam, an office and administrative staffing company, says that 30 percent of managers are more stressed at work today than they were a year ago. Only 11 percent said stress has dropped in the past year.

Additionally, the survey found that 28 percent expect their stress levels to rise again this year.

“Professionals at all levels are working harder and assuming more responsibilities as a result of companies relying on leaner teams,” says OfficeTeam’s Robert Hosking. “Managers in particular may be feeling the heat as they strive to keep employees motivated and productive with limited resources.”

All jobs are stressful. It comes with the territory. But the findings of OfficeTeam reveal that managers today endure extraordinary levels of stress, much of it fueled by concern for their job.

These self-induced stress scenarios point to a bleak outlook as businesses continue to demand more from their managers and employees.

The OfficeTeam survey reveals these concerns:

“There aren’t enough hours in the day.” If you feel overwhelmed by your duties, have an honest conversation with your supervisor. Don’t be afraid of asking for assistance. Perhaps some work can be delayed or interim help can be arranged.

“I’m lucky just to have a job…and scared to lose it.” Many managers worry that their jobs are about to be eliminated, too. But just doing more is no assurance you’ll still have a job. Look for projects that enhance your value to the company.

“Politics are rampant in my office.” In this economy, some managers fear losing their job so much that they begin trying to steal the limelight of a more deserving team member to retain their position. Speaking up in meetings and keeping your supervisor apprised with regular status reports can go a long way in helping the company notice your contributions.

“My manager is driving me crazy.” Your manager may be just as concerned as you are about losing his or her job. Keep them updated regularly so they can turn their attention elsewhere.

You’ll never be able to run away from workplace stress. But there are limits to how much stress individuals can handle. Some can’t handle much while others can shoulder larger shares of it. But when stress is chronic – when it is built into the job – you’ll have to be the one to determine if you can handle it, or whether you’d be better moving to another job.

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