Healthy Work Survey

For Individuals


Healthy Work Survey

The Healthy Work Survey – For Individuals was developed by university researchers along with the Healthy Work Campaign, and is now available to assess if you are experiencing work stress. It is anonymous, confidential, and is intended to help you learn more about the stressors you are experiencing at work that may be affecting your health and well-being.

Free Report

If you choose, after completing the survey, you can receive a free email report showing your results compared to a U.S. national population, so you can see if your work stress is greater, less than or similar to others. The report will also offer strategies and solutions based on the specific stressors you face at work.

The stress we experience from work is not just in our heads; it is caused by policies, practices and demands in the workplace. Chronic (long-term) exposure to workplace stressors can lead to mental ill health, such as burnout and depression, as well as cardiovascular problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease or stroke. For more about unhealthy work as well as information about healthy work, see www.healthywork.org.

What Do My Results Mean?

The results from the Healthy Work Survey show your “risk” for some of the most common, health-damaging work stressors. Your score is categorized as “low”, “intermediate” or “high” by comparing your results to data from the nationally-representative Quality of Worklife survey of the U.S. working population.

  • High Risk means your score falls in the group with the highest reported level of a given work stressor in the U.S. national working population.
  • Intermediate Risk means your score is in the “middle level” group for a given work stressor in the national working population.
  • Low Risk means your score falls in the “lowest level” for a given work stressor in the national working population.

The following sections give you information about the significance of the workplace stressors measured in the Healthy Work Survey, and what you could do to improve your scores in each category.

High Job Demands

If you have scored in the highest risk level in the U.S. population for job demands, this means that compared to most others in the U.S. working population, your job demands are very high. Having high job demands means you have a combination of a challenging workload, work pace and/or conflicting demands, meaning that you are often interrupted by demands from different sources making it more difficult to finish all your tasks. High job demands can be harmful to your health especially if it is coupled with a lack of job control and or job resources (job strain). Here are some ideas of how others have improved job demands or tools to help you cope with or improve your job demands.

High workload

If you have scored in the highest risk level in the U.S. population for your workload, this means compared to most others in the U.S. working population, your workload is highly demanding. A high workload can be harmful to your health especially if it is coupled with a lack of control over your work tasks and/or a lack of resources. Manageable “demands” (or workload) require having enough time to complete your work tasks in a regular workday and having a reasonable pace. High workloads can occur when management has unclear expectations. When management gets input from workers directly or through collective bargaining about staffing and resources, realistic timelines and workload, it is more likely that you will have a more manageable workload. Here are some ideas to help you cope with or improve your workload.

Inadequate resources

If you have scored in the highest risk level in the U.S. population for “resources,” this means that compared to other U.S. workers, you have much less access to important resources needed for you to complete your work. Resource inadequacy could be a lack of social support, lack of help or equipment or inadequate staffing, which prohibit you from getting all the work done. This can be a major stressor, as without adequate resources, workload can become unmanageable and the combination can result in poor health. Here are some ideas for improving access to necessary resources at work.

Long work hours (in the past week)

If you report working 55 or more hours per week, you are in the highest risk group for long work hours in the national population. This means that you are more likely to have work injuries, disrupted sleep, work-family conflict, develop burnout and depression, as well as high blood pressure and heart disease than workers working 35-40 hours per week. In fact, chronic exposure to long hours of work increases your risk of mortality by 20%. It is not easy to change your work hours if they are required or part of the work culture. Try to work with your coworkers or union (if you have one) or sympathetic employers to limit long work weeks (especially 55+ hours a week), eliminate mandatory overtime (through adequate staffing), and work towards changing the work culture to encourage working a regular schedule, limiting weekend work and allowing adequate recovery time (including vacations). Here are some ideas for coping with long work hours.

Low Job Control

If you have scored in the highest risk level in the U.S. population for low job control, this means that, compared to other workers, you have a job where you have less autonomy over decisions affecting your work tasks (decision-authority). You may have less “say” or voice about making improvements in your working conditions or participating with management in decision-making about the organization. Job control can be improved by designing jobs that encourage creativity, provide opportunities to learn new things, and develop or use your special skills or abilities (skill discretion). Low job control when coupled with high job demands is called job strain, which is associated with higher blood pressure/hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, stroke as well as mental health problems including burnout and depression. It is not easy to change the power relations between your employer and yourself in order to have more of a say over your tasks, your working conditions or about the organization. It is better to work with coworkers or a union (if you have one) to increase participation of all employees in decision making. Here are some ideas about how to improve job control.

Low ability to make decisions

If you have scored in the highest risk level in the U.S. population for decision making, this means you have less autonomy in your job to make decisions about your work tasks (decision-authority). You have less of a “say” or a voice about making improvements in your working conditions or participating with management in decision-making about the organization. Decision-making is part of having high job control, which is a powerful predictor of better health and an important element of healthy work. It is not easy to change the power relations between your employer and yourself in order to have more autonomy or more of a say. Here are some ideas showing how involving employees in decision-making has improved their health and well-being.

Low use of skills

If you have scored in the highest risk level for the national population in utilizing your skills at work, this means your job does not provide you many opportunities to learn new things or to develop or use your special skills or abilities. Being able to use or develop your skills is part of being creative and having “job control.” Low job control can lead to worse physical and mental health. Accessing job training or any courses offered by your employer can help to improve your skills. Cross-training or job rotation can make work more interesting, but watch out; it can also mean a heavier workload. Negotiating career ladders as part of a union contract can also help. See more ideas here.

Workplace Social Support

Lack of supervisor support

If you have scored in the highest risk level for U.S. workers for supervisor support, this means you lack important sources of support from your supervisors or manager(s). Negative relationships with supervisor(s) are a significant source of stress and negatively affect health and well-being. Good and effective supervisors listen, accept input from employees, provide help or feedback in a timely and constructive manner, and are successful in getting people to work together. They help create a supportive work environment where workers are less likely to get burnout, get sick, or leave their jobs. Organizations that have provided supervisor training to improve communication and leadership skills have shown an improvement in the health of workers. Here are some ideas from others who have improved supervisor support at work.

Lack of coworker support

If you have scored in the highest risk level in the U.S. population for coworker support, this means you have less supportive coworkers than other U.S. workers. Co-workers are important sources of social support but negative relationships can be a major stressor. Helping each other complete tasks, answering questions, and showing a personal interest in each other are important for worker well-being and can help people cope with stressors. Employers can promote a culture of teamwork and co-worker support by providing opportunities for positive interactions and stopping practices that create negative, overly competitive work environments. Here are some ideas for what you can do as an individual to cope with or improve coworker support.

Work-Family Conflict

If you have scored in the highest risk level in the U.S. population for work-family conflict, this means you have high levels of work-family (or work-life) conflict compared to most U.S. workers. Work-family conflict is a lack of time and energy to adequately meet both the demands of work and non-work life simultaneously. You come home too tired after work to do the things you enjoy or you have so much work that it prevents you from spending time with family or friends or pursuing personal interests. Also, challenges at home might interfere with your ability to perform your job. Work-family conflict is a major stressor that can lead to burnout, sleep problems and other health and productivity outcomes. There are some ways to reduce work-family conflict if an organization is willing to train supervisors and other managers to practice more family-supportive supervisor practices, and to provide flexible work policies (e.g. working from home, part-time hours, shared jobs). Here are some ideas from others who have reduced work-family conflict on the job.

Low Rewards

If you have scored in the highest risk level in the U.S. population for low rewards, this means you are less likely than other workers in the U.S. to experience respectful work, fair promotion opportunities, and job security. Also, you may be more likely to report that what you earn on the job is less than what you deserve or less than others who do the same job. When rewards do not match the required effort or responsibility of a job, this is also a major stressor called effort-reward imbalance which can increase your risk for depression, burnout and CVD. Here are some ideas from others who have improved “rewards” on the job.

Lack of promotion opportunities

If you have scored in the highest risk level in the U.S. population for promotion opportunities, this means you have fewer opportunities for promotion compared to other workers in the U.S.  Having opportunities to grow and advance in your job is an important aspect of “rewarding” work. When you are not recognized for your efforts adequately, by being passed over for promotions or working in a job where there are no promotion or recognition opportunities, this is a major stressor related to “effort-reward imbalance” (ERI). ERI can increase your risk for poor health, including depression and cardiovascular disease. It is often difficult to address promotions directly with a supervisor. Workers who are protected by collective bargaining contracts have negotiated for fair advancement opportunities. Here are some ideas of what you could do.

Poor Safety Climate

If you have scored in the highest risk level in the U.S. population for poor safety climate at work, this means you report that management at your workplace is less likely to prioritize the safety of workers or that they take shortcuts when it comes to worker health and safety. A healthy work environment should be free of physical hazards, including safety and mechanical hazards, toxic chemicals, noise, radiation, infectious diseases, extremes of heat and cold, and ergonomic design hazards. Poor safety climate may mean you are at risk of work-related injury and illnesses. You have a right to know what hazards you are exposed to in your workplace and there are many organizations in your county or state that can help you identify and report hazards.

Is your work healthy?

For more information about (un)healthy work go here.
For Healthy Work Tools for Individuals go here.
For Healthy Work Strategies – case studies showing how others have improved work stressors, go here.

If you want to stay informed about the Healthy Work Survey and receive other updates, please sign up for our Newsletter.

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