Professionals in a pressure cooker

Los Angeles, CA

 

Korn Ferry Survey Shows Workplace is More Stressful than 5 Years Ago

-- More Than a Third of Professionals Say They’ve Had to Quit a Job Due to Stress --

Increased work demands, bad bosses and changes in leadership are creating an ever-more stressful work environment for professionals. That is according to a new Korn Ferry (NYSE: KFY) survey.

The vast majority (88 percent) of professionals say that compared to 5 years ago, the stress level in their workplace is higher, with 51 percent saying it is much higher.

Ninety percent of respondents say they’ve lost sleep due to work stressors, more than a third (34 percent) say stress has gotten so bad that they have called in sick, and even more serious, 34 percent say they’ve had to quit due to stress on the job.

The top stressor for professionals on the job, according to the survey, is too heavy of a workload (41 percent) followed by their boss at 28 percent.

“A bad boss and too heavy of a workload often go hand-in-hand,” said Bryan Ackermann, Managing Partner, Korn Ferry Advance & Digitized Services. “While it’s important to accomplish tasks and achieve organizational goals, it’s up to both the employee and their supervisor to manage workloads and focus on what will create the best outcomes, including getting rid of non-effective ‘to-do’ tasks.”

Organizational shifts are also big stressors for professionals, as 93 percent of respondents say a change in top leadership, such as a new CEO or division head, creates additional stress.

“The key to managing through organizational change is to be transparent and open about how it will impact the business and employees -- explain the ‘why’ behind the changes and what plans are for the future,” said Ackermann.

The survey also found work and home stress are intertwined. The vast majority (93 percent) of respondents say stress at work has a negative impact on their personal relationships. Conversely, 74 percent say stress at home has a negative impact on their work productivity.

“Between work, family and other responsibilities, it’s no wonder why we live in such a stressed-out environment,” said Ackermann. “The key for company leaders is to understand that the mental health of their employees is just as important as their physical health. They must take steps to create a work environment where employees thrive.”

About the survey

The Korn Ferry global survey took place in January 2020 and garnered 1,405 responses. (note: due to rounding, responses may not equal 100 percent).

Survey Responses:

Compared to 5 years ago, what is the stress level in your workplace?

Much higher                                                                                         51 percent

Somewhat higher                                                                                37 percent

Somewhat lower                                                                                 10 percent

Much lower                                                                                           2 percent

Has stress at your job ever gotten so bad that you’ve had to quit?

Yes                                                                                                      34 percent

No                                                                                                       66 percent       

Has stress on the job ever caused you to call in sick?

Yes                                                                                                      34 percent

No                                                                                                       66 percent

How often do you lose sleep due to work stressors?

Never                                                                                                  10 percent

Occasionally                                                                                       56 percent

Often                                                                                                   34 percent

What is more stressful?

Too much work                                                                                   69 percent

Not enough work/feeling I am not adding value                            31 percent

How much do you agree that stress in the workplace has had a negative impact on your personal relationships?

To a great extent                                                                                46 percent

To some extent                                                                                   47 percent

To no extent                                                                                         7 percent

If you had to pick one, what would you say is your biggest stressor at work?

Your boss                                                                                            28 percent

Co-workers                                                                                         12 percent

Not knowing how to do your job as expected                               13 percent

Too heavy of a workload                                                                   41 percent

Low salary                                                                                           2 percent

Long commute                                                                                   3 percent

Compared to 5 years ago, what is the stress level in your workplace?

Much higher                                                                                         51 percent

Somewhat higher                                                                                37 percent

Somewhat lower                                                                                 10 percent

Much lower                                                                                           2 percent

If someone or something is stressing you out at work, how likely are you to confide in a co-worker

Highly likely                                                                                         22 percent

Somewhat likely                                                                                  38 percent

Somewhat unlikely                                                                              20 percent

Highly unlikely                                                                                     19 percent

If it’s unlikely that you will confide in a co-worker about something that’s stressing you out at work, what is the top reason?

I’m afraid they’ll record me and I’ll get in trouble                           10 percent

It’s none of their business                                                                   57 percent

I’m afraid they’ll tell my boss or HR                                                  33 percent

How much does a change in organizational leadership (e.g. new CEO or head of your division) impact your stress level?

To a great extent                                                                                42 percent

To some extent                                                                                   51 percent

To no extent                                                                                         7 percent

Would you agree with the following? Stress at home has negative impact on my work productivity.

To a great extent                                                                                20 percent

To some extent                                                                                   54 percent

To no extent                                                                                        27 percent

About Korn Ferry

Korn Ferry is a global organizational consulting firm. We work with clients to design their organizational structures, roles and responsibilities. We help them hire the right people and advise them on how to reward, develop and motivate their workforce. And, we help professionals navigate and advance their careers.