SOURCE: Kenexa

November 11, 2008 11:00 ET

Mothers, Sisters and Daughters Alike: Women Suffer Work Stress in Different Ways Than Men

More Than One-Quarter of Women Report Unreasonable Levels of Work Stress

WAYNE, PA--(Marketwire - November 11, 2008) - Research conducted by the Kenexa Research Institute (KRI) investigated the stress caused by work, and a worker's ability to balance both his/her professional and personal lives. According to the study, in the United States, work stress is a driver of employee engagement, which means that unreasonable levels of stress detract significantly from an employee's job satisfaction and enjoyment at work, and contributes to their intention to leave the company. The report is based on the analysis of data drawn from a representative sample of 10,000 U.S. workers who were surveyed through WorkTrends™, KRI's annual survey of worker opinions.

The results indicate regardless of gender, employees are more than twice as likely to think about leaving their job if they have a high level of work stress. For professional and technical workers, the issues of work/life balance, doing exciting work that they are good at, having a respectful manager, being paid fairly, working on a resourced and functioning team and having a career path all contribute to the level of work stress one experiences.

Looking at the differences between genders, results show that women's work stress is more related to managerial support and equal opportunity, whereas men's stress drivers focus more on product quality and trust in senior leadership.

Brenda Kowske, research consultant, Kenexa Research Institute, said, "Organizational leaders can reduce stress by providing a career path while still supporting work/life balance. Managers need to be in on the effort by ensuring fair treatment in evaluation and compensation, tapping employee motivation and ensuring adequately resourced teams. Honesty and integrity also matter. Employees need to be able to report unethical behavior. In sum, work stress is about fairness, honesty, and doing what you love -- but not having it consume your life."

In the United States, women report more work stress than men. Fifty-six percent of women indicate that their "stress level was reasonable," while more than a quarter of women (26%) felt that their work stress has reached unreasonable levels.

Across occupations, more often women reported unreasonable amounts of stress than men did, with the largest difference between men and women being in front-line supervisory roles (10% more women rate their work stress as unreasonable), service and production jobs (8%) and middle and upper management (6%).

"This research may partially explain why there are fewer women in management roles in the United States. The media and academia have substantiated the existence of the glass ceiling. Women also fight the commonly held perception that they may lack the motivation to climb the corporate ladder, and our data indicate that fewer women feel that achieving career goals is likely while maintaining a balance between their personal and professional lives. All of these factors may increase stress for women managers. It is difficult to ascertain, however, if women feel more stress, or if their stress is equal to a man's, but they more freely report their stress levels."

About WorkTrends™

The Kenexa WorkTrends database is a comprehensive normative database of employee opinions on topics including leadership, employee engagement and customer orientation. Comparisons are available for workers from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

About Kenexa

Kenexa (NASDAQ: KNXA) is a global leader in building the world's greatest workforces using a combination of software, employee research science and business process optimization. Kenexa's global solutions include applicant tracking, onboarding, recruitment process outsourcing, employment branding, skills and behavioral assessments, structured interviews, performance management, multi-rater feedback surveys, employee engagement surveys and HR Analytics. Kenexa is headquartered in Wayne, Pa. with offices in 18 countries worldwide. Additional information about Kenexa and its global products and services can be accessed at www.kenexa.com.