The American Workplace Is Broken. Here’s How We Can Start Fixing It

This story is part of our month-long “Work Well” initiative, which focuses on thriving in the workplace — staying healthy and free of anxiety even in the midst of difficult work conditions. The series presents creative solutions you can use to take care of yourself as you take care of business. You can find more stories from this project here.

The way we work doesn’t really seem to be working.

Americans are working longer and harder hours than ever before. Eighty-three percent of workers say they’re stressed about their jobs, nearly 50 percent say work-related stress is interfering with their sleep, and 60 percent use their smartphones to check in with work outside of normal working hours. It’s no wonder that only

13 percent of employees worldwide feel engaged in their occupation.

Glimmers of hope, however, are beginning to emerge in this bruising environment: Americans are becoming aware of the toll their jobs take on them, and employers are exploring ways to mitigate the harmful effects of stress and overwork. Yet much more work remains to be done.

The modern work world is a “broken and antiquated system,” according to Anne-Marie Slaughter, author of Unfinished Business: Men Women Work Family.

“For many Americans, life has become all competition all the time,” Slaughter wrote in a September New York Times opinion piece, “A Toxic Work World.” “Workers across the socioeconomic spectrum … have stories about toiling 12- to 16-hour days (often without overtime pay) and experiencing anxiety attacks and exhaustion. Public health experts have begun talking about stress as an epidemic.”

Dr. Emma Seppälä, scientific director of Stanford’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education and author of The Happiness Track, agreed.

“When you look at what’s going on, there’s so much stress,” she told The Huffington Post. —> Read More