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APA Survey on US Employee Needs


by American Psychological Association

Women feel less valued, have fewer opportunities at work

By American Psychological Association

More than one-third of American workers experience chronic work stress, with low salaries, lack of opportunity for advancement and heavy workloads topping the list of contributing factors, according to a new national survey by the American Psychological Association’s Center for Organizational Excellence.

On the heels of the recession, many employees appear to feel stuck, with only 39 percent citing sufficient opportunities for internal career advancement and just over half (51 percent) saying they feel valued at work.

Compounding the problem, less than half of working Americans reported that they receive adequate monetary compensation or non-monetary recognition for their contributions on the job (46 percent and 43 percent, respectively). Additionally, just 43 percent of employees said that recognition is based on fair and useful performance evaluations. In addition to feeling undervalued, employees also reported feeling unheard. Less than half (47 percent) said their employers regularly seek input from employees and even fewer (37 percent) said the organization makes changes based on that feedback. APA’s Work and Well-Being Survey was conducted online among 1,501 adults from Jan. 9-21, 2013 on behalf of the APA by Harris Interactive.

Despite growing awareness of the importance of a healthy workplace, few employees said their organizations provide sufficient resources to help them manage stress (36 percent) and meet their mental health needs (44 percent). In fact, only 59 percent reported having adequate employer-provided health insurance. Just 42 percent of employees said their organizations promote and support a healthy lifestyle and only 36 percent reported regularly participating in workplace health and wellness programs.

With almost two-thirds (65 percent) of U.S. adults citing work as a significant source of stress in APA’s most recent Stress in America survey and 35 percent of working Americans reporting that they typically feel stressed during the workday, employers need to provide resources to help their employees face work-related challenges. “This isn’t just an HR or management issue,” said Norman B. Anderson, PhD, chief executive officer of the American Psychological Association. “The well-being of an organization’s workforce is a strategic business imperative that is linked to its performance and success.”

Women Still Face Disparities at Work

Despite many advances for women in the workplace, the office still doesn’t feel like a level playing field for many women who reported feeling less valued than men (48 percent of women versus 54 percent of men). Less than half of employed women (43 percent) said they receive adequate monetary compensation for their work, compared to 48 percent of employed men.

Further, fewer employed women than men reported that their employer provides sufficient opportunities for internal career advancement (35 percent versus 43 percent) or resources to help them manage stress (34 percent versus 38 percent). Though employed women were more likely than men to report having good mental health (86 percent versus 76 percent), more women said they typically feeling tense or stressed out at work (37 percent versus 33 percent).

Work-Life Fit and Flexibility Lagging

Only 52 percent of American workers believe their employers value work-life balance, which comes as no surprise, as just 39 percent reported that their employers provide options for flexible work and 30 percent said their employers provide benefits that help them more easily meet their non-work demands.

Only 37 percent of women reported regularly using employee benefits designed to help them meet demands outside the office, compared to almost half of men (46 percent), and just 38 percent of women said they regularly utilize flexible work arrangements, compared to 42 percent of men. Overall, one-third of working Americans (33 percent) said that work interfering during personal or family time has a significant impact on their level of work stress, and 1 in 4 reported that job demands interfere with their ability to fulfill family or home responsibilities.

“When employers acknowledge that employees have responsibilities and lives outside of work, they can take steps to promote a good work-life fit and help individuals better manage these multiple demands,” said David W. Ballard, PsyD, MBA, head of APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence. “Forward-thinking organizations are reevaluating work practices, providing employees with resources that support well-being and performance and applying new technologies that help shift work from somewhere we go from 9-to-5 to something we do that is meaningful and creates value.”

APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence and Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards

To showcase employers who value employee well-being and understand its link to organizational performance, the American Psychological Association will present its eighth annual Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, March 9, 2013. For full details visit the APA Center for Organizational Excellence.

The center also offers the following resources for employers:

  • Good Company newsletter, blog and podcast, featuring tips, tools and other resources to help employers create a healthy, high-performing work environment.
  • A searchable database of professional, academic and popular press literature related to employee well-being and organizational performance.
  • Case examples and best practices from award-winning organizations.
  • Webcasts and online courses for human resource professionals, benefits managers, health and wellness professionals, organizational consultants and business leaders.
  • A calendar of events with information about conferences from a variety of disciplines, including psychology, human resources, health promotion and employee benefits.

Connect with APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

About the Survey

APA’s Work and Well-Being Survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of the American Psychological Association between Jan. 9-Jan. 21, 2013 among 1,501 adults aged 18 and older who reside in the U.S. and who are either employed full time, part time or self-employed. A full methodology is available online.

The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 137,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people's lives.