No. 1 workplace stressor is low pay, study says

Keith Daniels was not surprised to hear that low pay was the No. 1 workplace stressor listed in the 2012 Work Stress Survey conducted by Harris Interactive.

“Nine times out of 10, the pay that we get is not what we want and the job that we have is not our dream job,” Daniels said.

If the 35-year-old had the income and his way today, he would be a musical producer making hits for rap artists like Jay-Z, Ludacris and Eminem. For now, Daniels is a manager at Agnes All Natural Grill on North Keowee Street in Dayton.

“Of course, we are fortunate that we do have jobs, but everybody wants to do better,” he said.

Nearly 900 people were polled for the second annual survey conducted by Harris Interactive for Everest College. The telephone survey revealed that 73 percent of employed Americans are stressed on the job, with low pay topping their list of concerns for the second straight year. More women — 14 percent — are stressed about pay issues than men (8 percent).

“The most surprising results in this year’s survey relates to job security. In 2011, fear of being fired or laid off was cited as the top stressor by 9 percent of Americans,” said George Medici, senior vice president of PondelWilkinson, the public relations firm of Everest College. “This year, just 4 percent ranked fear of losing their job as the top concern.

“This may indicate that Americans are a little more confident this year about hanging on to their current jobs.”

The second top stressor for 2012 was annoying coworkers. Many working Americans cannot choose who they work with. That is not the case for Carl Moyler, president and CEO of The Don Pablo Academy of Foreign Languages and Mathematics Tutoring, 40 S. Perry St.

“You have to look at personnel and staff and people who will be complimentary to your idea and where your vision is concerned,” said Moyler, a retired Dayton Public Schools Foreign Language teacher.

Finding and keeping the right staff is just part of Moyler’s stress. Drumming up business also is important, of course. Last year, the academy served up to 75 people.

“It’s a good beginning figure,” Moyler said. “Fundamentally, it gives us a reason to conclude that our services our needed.”

Technology is a stressful issue for Moyler, who is trying to find the most effective ways to advertise and is just beginning to look into the benefits of social media.

Work commute was the No. 3 stressor, followed by unreasonable workload and current job not being a chosen career.

Being forced to go down a different career path is not always bad. Jesy Anderson, 32, turned to her hobbies after being laid off from a logistics job last year. Now she is a seamstress, owns on J Kessel Design and is co-owner of Sew Dayton, 16 Brown Street.

Anderson and her business partner, Tracy McElfresh, 40, who is also owner of Dresses By Tracy McElfresh, LLC, have found out that stress is part of owning a business.

“You want to make sure that you are legal,” McElfresh said, while recalling all the workshops and paperwork the two had to endure in order to start the business. They entered into a joint venture partnership, which allows the partners to keep their own businesses while operating the new business.

“We both have to agree on everything,” McElfresh said.

The two seamstresses said communication and trust are the things that help them eliminate stress.

“It’s almost like a marriage,” McElfresh said.

“We don’t want it to fail,” Anderson said of their new business, which is set to open in September.

“Stress is being a multi-tasker,” said Nicole Estremera, 31, who co-owns Agnes All Natural Grill with her husband. Jose. Nicole works alongside her husband, 38, at the restaurant while juggling her full-time human resources job. Jose is also a real estate investor. The couple has two children, ages 12 and 8.

“The more organized you are, the less stressful you will be,” she said. “In the beginning, oh my goodness, I wanted to lose my mind.”

No matter how organized the couple is, nothing prepares them for an employee calling off work or quitting without warning.

“I have to fill in,” Estremera said. “You have to balance home, kids, sports and career.”

Another stressful issue is money. The Estremeras put up approximately $20,000 to start their restaurant, which they are using to create generational wealth for their children and grandchildren.

“This is stressful because if we don’t make any money, we have to spend our money,” Estremera said, referring to payroll and other restaurant expenses. “I think that’s why the passion is so great for us to do well.”

Estremera said she and her husband deal with stress by praying and speaking positively about their business, even during hectic times.

“I actually talk to my restaurant: ‘Agnes will become a franchise some day.’ I just really speak the positive aspects of the business,” Estremera said. “I really think that is what has helped us to make it this far.”

Agnes celebrated its 1-year anniversary earlier this month.

“Initially I didn’t think we would make it this far,” Estremera said. “Now, I truly believe with every fiber in my body that we have a good thing here.”