Some Northlanders are working two or three jobs to make ends meet, a union official says.
"It's tough for everyone at the moment," said Robert Popata of the Whangarei Amalgamated Workers Union. "Whether that is adding more stress - I don't know. Most people seem to just be getting on with it."
The results of a global survey reveal that people's stress levels have grown in the past year, with many citing their job as a key pressure point. Others say personal finances, their spouse or children create the most stress.
Mr Popata said another concern for union members, who worked mainly in the construction and timber industries, was wages: "Especially, if you're on the minimum, that's always worrying. Sometimes it means people are working two to three jobs."
More than 16,000 people took part in the stress survey, conducted by international company Regus.
Nearly 40 per cent of New Zealand respondents said their job was the biggest cause of stress. More than half nominated personal finances for the top spot and 54 per cent said dealing with customers caused them the most stress.
Helena Cooper-Thomas, of the University of Auckland School of Psychology, said a worker's performance was often linked to stress and workload.
"If you've got a pressing deadline and you think, 'Oh, my manager is really pushing me' ... and it feels like you're under pressure,' then it will be quite stressful ... and harder to get to," she said.
But, if a manager fostered a culture in which workers felt challenged and supported under such deadlines - rather than being pressured and stressed - people were likely to cope much better.
Dr Cooper-Thomas also said a heavy workload could lead to increased worker absenteeism and falling productivity.
"Sick-leave research is really variable. We do know if people are dissatisfied and not involved with their work, there will be more absenteeism," she said.
"An unreasonable workload may also result in people not coming in to work."
Signing up to flexible working conditions would not necessarily provide an instant cure, Dr Cooper-Thomas warned. Working to hours which suited them better than the standard nine-to-five could help, but workers needed to ensure strict boundaries were imposed.