The number one workplace fear for more than 60 percent of Americans is being underpaid, according to recent research from Business.org.
It’s a valid concern, The Economic Policy Institute reports employers underpay employees $15 billion each year through overtime and misclassification violations. Business.org also found that younger workers ages 18 to 34 were roughly 30 percent more likely than Baby Boomers to fear being underpaid.
Job security, rather the fear of losing a job, is the top work-related fear for over 20 percent of employees. “I just worry about my ability to [keep my job] so that I can pay bills and take care of my family… I am stressed out more often than not,” says one respondent. Much like compensation concerns, job security is another workplace fear with a rational basis. Almost 20 million Americans lost their jobs due to layoffs or discharge in 2016, reported by The Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Nearly 15 percent of employees say work overload is their number one workplace fear. Business.org cited research that found in comparison to working between 35 to 40 hours a week, working over 55 hours a week was shown to increase the risk of heart attack by almost 15 percent and the risk of stroke by more than 33 percent. Productivity showed a sharp decline after 50 hours of work a week. Half of employees who are moderately to highly engaged are burnt out. They’re dealing with exhaustion, frustration, anxiety and struggling to keep up with daily task. Engagement has limits and when it’s too high it can start to affect productivity, retention and job satisfaction.
Some employees are more fearful than others. Adults ages 18 to 34, individuals with a previous workplace issue, parents and those living in urban areas had a higher level of fear. In contrast, those who identified as white had less concern than respondents of other ethnicities. “Issues of race and gender equality, equal pay for equal work, freedom from harassment of any kind all remain unresolved. [All workers] should feel supported for their efforts,” one respondent said.
Leaders that address workplace fears are likely to have more loyal employees. Employees feel valued when employers make a point to acknowledge and take their concerns into consideration when making changes in policies and processes. Supervisors could benefit from direct and open communication with employees. It has the potential to limit some of employee concerns by replacing fear of the unknown with confidence in transparency from upper management.