RAND survey finds US jobs gruelling

A newly published RAND survey has found US jobs gruelling. The nonprofit think tank asked its nationally representative survey panel about their attitudes toward the workplace.

''The portrait that emerges is of a workplace that is taxing on a lot of dimensions,'' says Nicole Maestas, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and the lead author of the study.

''It's hectic, fast-paced, and jobs can be emotionally and physically taxing.''

The survey found that:

  • Nearly 75 per cent of Americans report either intense or repetitive physical exertion on the job at least one-quarter of the time.
  • Over 50 per cent report exposure to unpleasant and potentially hazardous working conditions.
  • Around one in five Americans is exposed to a hostile or threatening social environment at work, such as unwanted sexual attention and verbal abuse.
  • Most Americans (two-thirds) frequently work at fast paced assignments or work under tight deadlines. One in four perceives that they have too little time to do their job.
  • About one-half of American workers do some work in their free time to meet work demands and only 38 per cent of workers state that their job offers good prospects for advancement.

Nearly three quarters reported spending at least a fourth of their time on the job in "intense or repetitive physical" labour. "I was surprised at how physically demanding jobs were," said Maestas.

Telecommuting is rare, with 78 per cent saying they are required to be present in their workplace during working hours.

"Wow - (work) is pretty taxing place for many people," Maestas says. "I was surprised by how pressured and hectic the workplace is."

In many cases, less-educated workers endure tougher working conditions, for instance, fewer than half of men without college degrees can take a break whenever they want to, as against more than 76 per cent of men with college degrees. Likewise, nearly 68 per cent of men without degrees spend at least a fourth of their time moving heavy loads.