Work can be fun and productive, but it can also be stressful and anxiety-inducing. And because of that, sometimes people cry on the job. But if you’ve ever shed tears at work, know that you’re not alone. A new survey conducted by job searching website Monster.com showed that among 3,078 respondents, nearly 83% of people have cried at work. And nearly half of those who cried at work (45.4%) said they were crying because of a supervisor or a co-worker. Other reasons cited include personal matters, (18.5%), workload (15.7%) and being bullied in the workplace (12.8%).
These statistics may seem a bit surprising, but they make sense when you consider other research. The American Institute of Stress, a non-profit organization, says that workplace stress is “far and away the major source of stress for American adults” and has “escalated progressively” in recent decades. And a 2018 poll conducted for Quartz by SurveyMonkey Audience, showed that 18% of employees experience work-disrupting anxiety or depression. That rate was almost twice as high (30%) among Millennial and Gen Z (aged 18-34) employees.
More than half of the respondents to the Monster.com poll said that they only cried “a few times.” But Monster career expert Vicki Salemi said that’s still concerning. Salemi said in an email announcing the survey that “A few times is still a few times too many. When you cry at work, that’s a sign of a toxic environment. There are numerous jobs out there where you will be doing the opposite, feeling happy and accomplished... ” And Salemi said that if you’re crying every week of every day, that this is a “sure sign it’s time to look for a new job.”
If you’re experiencing a lot of crying at work, Salemi suggests asking yourself a series of questions, including “the frequency [and] the cause” of the crying and “what you can change about the situation.”
For some, this may look like changing their entire career path, especially if they’re in stressful, emotionally intensive fields that often don’t pay much, like teaching or community doula-work. But switching occupations may not help, as the American Institute of Stress says that “It is not the job, but the person-environment fit that matters,” when evaluating how stressful a job can be for an individual. So perhaps, it might be more useful to change the environment you’re in, or have a conversation with your supervisors about how to create a more positive space.
There are other methods you can use to prevent stress at work, like actually using your vacation time, or decorating your office space. There are even meditations you can do during your commute that might help you feel refreshed for the next working day. And for people who are self-employed or work from home, Bustle writer JR Thorpe wrote that they have unique challenges when it comes to stress. “It's not unusual to struggle with self-employment's isolation and lack of routine, or to find it challenging; many people in self-employment experience both highs and lows, and that's part of the cycle,” Thorpe wrote. For self-employed people, preventing work stress might look like managing anxiety, keeping a healthy social life, and making lists of priorities.
Salemi said that “ You should not be under duress on the job, but if you do shed tears, please note, you’re not alone, even though it may feel like that.” Salemi also suggested a few things that might help, like spending weekends to “go to a park, go for a walk, do yoga, and clear your head to sit down objectively with yourself or a friend or mentor to evaluate the situation.”