• A recent study commissioned by Thriveworks suggests that over 40% of Americans have been left with “post-traumatic job stress” as a result of negative past work experiences.  
  • Leading causes of post-traumatic job stress included feeling overworked, undervalued, and being bullied.  
  • Other contributing factors were micromanagement, workplace racism, microaggressions, and more.  
  • To cope with the lingering negative effects of post-traumatic job stress, employees felt the urge to take a career break or work overtime and/or on days off. Others decided to seek out therapy.

Gaining work experience is often viewed as a positive process, something we grow and learn from. But what about negative experiences in our work history? 

Could toxic work environments and professional relationships leave us with “post-traumatic job stress?” 

To find out, Thriveworks recently conducted a research study into how many Americans have suffered “post-traumatic job stress”—the lasting impact of a negative workplace experience. 

What Workplace Experiences Are the Leading Contributors to Post-traumatic Job Stress? 

People with post-traumatic job stress reported their symptoms were caused by a variety of issues, and in many cases, a combination of one or more negative experiences. The leading causes of post-traumatic job stress were feeling overworked and undervalued (47%), feeling underappreciated (38%), and being bullied (30%)

What Other Workplace Issues Cause Post-Traumatic Job Stress?

Other experiences that contributed to employees’ post-traumatic job stress included micro-management from supervisors and bosses (26%), workplace racism (19%), and microaggressions (19%)

These were followed by sexism (17%), ageism (10%) homophobia (6%), transphobia (6%), and ableism (4%).  

PTJS Pie Chart

Next, the study aimed to determine how workers attempt to cope with the effects of these negative workplace experiences. 

How Do Employees Cope with Their Post-Traumatic Job Stress? 

Research participants indicated that the impact of post-traumatic job stress left them feeling the need for a career break (25%) and increased pressure to work overtime or on their days off (24%). And in some instances, it led them to the decision to seek out therapy (17%)

And of the employees dealing with the emotional fallout of post-traumatic job stress, 12% say they now suffer from imposter syndrome in the workplace. 

Thriveworks Research: Post-Traumatic Job Stress


*This was a study of 1005 Americans commissioned by Thriveworks and conducted by Censuswide in January 2022.