The Journal Gazette
Sunday, July 21, 2019 1:00 am

Poll: Many workers dread Sunday evenings

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

Friday used to be Doughnut Day at the newspaper where I worked nearly 20 years ago.

A rotating schedule of newsroom employees voluntarily financed the calorie-laden, end-of-week celebration; it was a way, too, of looking forward to what the weekend might bring.

Perhaps Doughnut Day should be Monday in some workplaces. Or perhaps fresh fruit or other less diet-destroying treats would be good: A reason to wake up Monday morning and feel like you actually want to go back to the job.

Sunday nights are apparently their own version of Fright Night for some workers. The exact label and hashtag is “Sunday Scaries.” 

The Wall Street Journal had a story on it earlier this month. It said a LinkedIn survey of more than 1,000 working adults last fall showed 80% of working adults experienced a pickup in work-related stress Sunday evenings. 

Robert Half International, a staffing agency, had an independent research firm conduct a survey on the topic in April.

In an email this month, Robert Half said 39% of U.S. workers reported “Sunday Scaries,” described as anxiety experienced the night before the typical start of the workweek. The Robert Half results were based on responses from more than 2,800 U.S. workers 18 and older employed in office environments.

Heavy workloads and project deadlines were cited by 44% as the primary cause of anxiety, Robert Half said, with 18% attributing it to a challenging relationship with their manager and 17% not liking their job duties.

Freshbooks, a cloud-based accounting business that also studies self-employment trends, says most people who are their own boss have a better work-life balance. In general, 55% of those self-employed experience less stress, according to this month's Freshbooks email, sent with a subject line reading “No Sunday Scaries Here!”

Of course, despite the push to get more people to consider owning a business, not everyone is cut out to do so.

So while doughnuts and even fresh fruit might not be the best antidotes to Sunday Scaries, there are some steps managers might consider to help lessen the dread.

If there are crucial conversations to be held about performance, maybe have those on a Wednesday or Thursday and avoid Monday. It would give an employee time to reflect before the weekend starts without possibly jeopardizing their weekend mood.

Maybe Mondays could be high praise day. Managers could send an email or post a memo highlighting the accomplishments a team or individuals had the previous week.

Ultimately, though, everyone has to rule their own emotions.

Once employees figure out the cause of the Sunday distress, they'll be in a better position to address it, said Rachel Howell, branch manager of the Robert Half Fort Wayne office.

But managers can help reduce Sunday Scaries by encouraging a healthy work-life balance. If you're always at work or sending lots of emails on the weekend or other off hours, she said, it can make employees feel like they're required to do the same.

Some stress is caused by employees who essentially are never “clocking out” due to ease of access to work and job communications through technology.

“We're all expected to do a bit more these days,” Howell said, “and how do you get that done and still have the balance we all crave?”

Stress city

Speaking of anxiety, the personal-finance website WalletHub last week released a report on the Most & Least Stressed Cities in America, based on comparing more than 180 cities across nearly 40 metrics such as traffic congestion per auto commuter, unemployment and divorce rates and share of adults in fair or poor health.

So see, work isn't the only stress point.

Now back to the lists. 

Detroit was the most stressed city, followed by Cleveland and Newark, New Jersey. Cincinnati was No. 7 on the top 10 list. Three California cities were among the 10 least stressed: San Jose, Irvine and Fremont had the bottom spot.

Fort Wayne was 85th on the list of 182 cities. 

To share a thought, a favorite quote or other wisdom about leadership, email Lisa Green at Lead On also appears online as a blog at

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