Thursday, February 16, 2012 | Posted by: Fiona Cullinan
Categories: Thought Leadership | Tags: business, statistics, report, CEO, IBR, work-life balance, international business report, CEOs, executive, stress, targets, workplace, work-related, holidays
That’s the finding of Grant Thornton’s International Business Report (IBR) , which surveyed 6,000 business leaders across the globe in the final quarter of 2011 to compare workplace stress levels, holidays taken and stress-busting solutions.
Who was surveyed?
CEOs, managing directors, chairmen or senior executives from 40 economies – primarily in manufacturing, services, retail and construction – were asked about their stress levels between September and December 2011.
The uncertainty caused by the eurozone crisis and its threat to the global economy means that stress is still rising but far less steeply – in fact, levels of executive stress showed their lowest annual increase since 2005.
Survey shows global slowdown in workplace stress
In 2010, net 45% of business leaders reported an increase in stress levels over the past 12 months, but this fell to just 28% in 2011. And the pattern is consistent around the world. Even in distressed Europe, the net increase in stress has declined from 40% in 2010 to 22% this year. And in the UK the figure was even lower – a 15% net increase in stress, down from 25% in 2010, provided one of the lowest net increases in the survey.
As the IBR scatter graph shows, UK business leaders experience less stress and enjoy more holidays than their many of their peers, including those in the US, Australia, Latin America and the Far East. (Click on the graphic to bring up a larger version.)
Unsurprisingly, Greek leaders were among the most stressed and taking the least breaks – a situation echoed in Asia Pacific, which was the most stressed region with net 44% reporting an increase in stress over the past 12 months (although this too is down from 58% in 2010).
What were the biggest headaches for execs?
The IBR stress survey also showed that the biggest headache for senior executives lay in reaching performance targets: globally 30% of business leaders cite it as the major cause of workplace stress (21% in the UK), as do 37 of the 40 economies covered by the survey.
Other causes were far less significant and included: volume of communications (11%), office politics (11%) and work/life balance (9%). In the UK, the figures were 9%, 11% and 13% respectively – the top five causes can be found in the chart below (click on the graphic to bring up a larger version).
The holiday factor
The issue of stress in business was highlighted recently when António Horta-Osório, CEO of Lloyds Banking Group in the United Kingdom, was forced to take almost three months off because of a stress-related illness. (He returned to work last month after collapsing in early November.)
Perhaps he just needed a holiday…
Those countries where business leaders take the fewest holidays – such as Japan, mainland China and Thailand – reported the highest rises in stress. While their peers in the Netherlands, Russia and Denmark took the most days off in 2011 and reported the lowest increases in stress.
Here in the UK, business execs were taking off 20 days a year – one day more than in 2010.
What do you think?
So, are UK business leaders managing their goals and challenges more effectively? Or is it because more realistic performance measures and goals are being set? Perhaps is it just a case of getting the work-life balance right?
What do you think? We’d love to hear your comments.
Image of stressball: (CC) bottled_void
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