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Stress in the Workplace is Relative, Suggests Deloitte Study

NEW YORK, (FNN NEWS) By Deloitte — The Deloitte Greenhouse™ Experience team recently completed a survey asking more than 23,000 professionals about their stress levels at work and found statistically significant variation in how respondents react to workplace stressors. Overall, the majority of respondents reported modest levels of stress. Fourteen percent reported being stressed only rarely and 57 percent reported being stressed sometimes, while 26 percent reported being stressed often, and 3 percent reported being always stressed.

Responses to stress questions were correlated with respondent’s patterns of behaviors and preferences based on Business Chemistry®, a system designed to facilitate stronger relationships and better teamwork in the workplace. There are four primary Business Chemistry types, which highlight both similarities and differences in working styles.

Making an error topped the list of workplace stressors, with 82 percent of respondents indicating errors caused stress. Other types of situations experienced as stressful by respondents included:

  • A challenging workload, with long hours or juggling of multiple responsibilities (52 percent)
  • Moments of conflict, like getting reprimanded or delivering a difficult message (52 percent)
  • Situations that create urgency, like critical projects or time pressure (46 percent)
  • Face-to-face interactions, like delivering a presentation or meeting a new stakeholder (45 percent)

Across Business Chemistry types, Guardians, who strive for certainty and stability, and Integrators, who value connection, were more likely to find all situations more stressful than Pioneers, who seek possibilities and love to explore and Drivers, who love a challenge.

“The survey indicates that workplace stress is relative and not everyone experiences stress in the same way or to the same degree. Much likely depends on that person’s working style and preferences,” said Kim Christfort, managing director, Deloitte LLP, and national managing director of Deloitte’s Greenhouse Experience team. “For example, while an urgent assignment might go against a Guardian’s preference for deliberate and methodical decision making, it may energize a Driver who tolerates risk and favors a brisk work pace. For leaders, understanding what motivates workers can help resolve workplace conflicts, empower staff and lead to better results as a team.”

There were also differences in stress levels between the more inward- and outward-focused Business Chemistry subtypes. Guardians, Dreamers (a subtype of Integrator) and Scientists (a subtype of Driver) tend to be more reserved, introspective and deliberate. They also report significantly higher stress levels. Pioneers, Teamers (a subtype of Integrator), and Commanders (a subtype of Driver) are generally more outgoing, energetic and adaptable, and also report significantly less stress.

“Organizations and teams may want to pay special attention to their inward-focused team members to understand what might be done to reduce stress levels,” said Suzanne Vickberg, Ph.D., senior manager, Deloitte LLP and applied insights lead, Deloitte’s Greenhouse Experience team. “Inward-focused types may bring particular strengths that can add value to a team — like conscientiousness, strong listening skills and detail-focus. Their tendency to be sensitive to others’ experiences and reactions can help improve team collaboration and performance, but they are often the most stressed – and overlooked – members of the team.”

When a second sample of more than 17,000 professionals was asked about their effectiveness under stress, the majority of Drivers and Pioneers reported they are most effective when moderately or very stressed (61 percent and 59 percent, respectively). In comparison, fewer Integrators and Guardians reported they were most effective at these stress levels (51 percent and 50 percent, respectively).

Respondents in the second sample were also asked about their coping strategies for dealing with stress. The responses, from most popular to least, were:

  • Action strategies, like diving right in and tackling the issue head on (83 percent)
  • Cognitive coping strategies, like stepping back and thinking through possibilities (79 percent)
  • Groundwork, like getting organized or seeking further information (78 percent)
  • Interpersonal coping strategies including talking with someone and bouncing ideas (47 percent)
  • Taking timeout to do something else, like socializing or exercising (46 percent)

Read more about the study and the methodology.

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