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RISMEDIA, March 30, 2009-With the U.S. economy ailing and companies laying off millions of Americans who are anxiously searching for employment, a new CIGNA survey shows that for the majority of Americans, work means a lot more to them than a paycheck to cover the bills.

Work is an essential part of most people’s sense of self-worth and emotional well-being. In fact, one in five Americans say they love their jobs and would continue to work even if they won the lottery.

The survey, conducted for CIGNA by Yankelovich as part of its “Health and Well-being in America” series of surveys, explored attitudes toward work and the effect of the economy on the work environment.

Key findings include:

-Americans have a strong work ethic and derive satisfaction from their jobs.
-Americans feel unproductive, worried, afraid, anxious and depressed when they’re out of work because of an injury or illness.
-Most say the overall mood in the workplace has changed in the past six months, and most say those changes have been for the worse.

Living to Work or Working to Live

When asked how they view their job, 65% gave responses that were categorized as “Live to Work.” Thirty-one percent said they like their job and get a sense of satisfaction from going to work each day, 21% said they love their job and would continue working even if they won the lottery, and 13% said their work gives their life structure and purpose. Gender played a role in the responses, with more women than men reporting that they “live to work” (71% vs. 59%). Women enjoy the social aspect of work more than men, saying in greater numbers they like their co-workers or they meet interesting people at work, while more men than women say they’re proud of their work.

In contrast, 35% offered responses that were categorized as “Work to Live,” saying that they work just for the paycheck or insurance benefits, feel stuck due to the economy, or want to retire but can’t afford to. Gender again played a role, with more men than women saying they “work to live” (40% vs. 28%).

When asked why they “live to work,” people’s most common responses were they like their co-workers, feel a sense of accomplishment from their job, are proud of their work, or feel their work makes a difference. Only small numbers cited economic reasons: seven percent cited providing for their family, and just three percent cited their pay.

Coping with the Economy

The survey also shows that the economic downturn is affecting the atmosphere at work, with 60% saying the overall mood in the workplace has changed in the past six months. Among those, 34% said people are afraid they might lose their job or that the economy has affected people’s moods, and 30% cited more pressure or stress while in the workplace.

“The good news for U.S. employers is that most people say they enjoy their work and derive satisfaction from it,” said Jodi Prohofsky, Ph.D., a licensed therapist and senior vice president of health solutions operations at CIGNA.

One of the most effective ways an employer can help employees manage stress and anxiety is by offering an employee assistance program to help employees cope with emotional, financial and legal issues and help them maintain a healthy work/life balance. Prohofsky also noted that an employee assistance program can help “layoff survivors” cope with survivor’s guilt and feeling overwhelmed by increased workloads or new job responsibilities.

For more information, visit www.cigna.com.

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