Worried Workers: Korn Ferry Survey Finds Professionals Are More Stressed Out at Work Today Than 5 Years Ago

-- Boss is Biggest Stressor at Work –

-- Professionals Say it’s Worse to Have Too Little to Do Versus Too Much --

Los Angeles, Nov. 8, 2018 – Bad bosses, lost sleep and increased conflict at home. A new Korn Ferry (NYSE:KFY) survey of professionals shows stress at work is increasing, with nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of respondents saying that compared to 5 years ago, their level of stress at work today is higher.

More than three-quarters (76 percent) of respondents say stress at work has had a negative impact on their personal relationships and 66 percent say they have lost sleep due to work stressors. In addition,16 percent say they’ve had to quit a job due to stress.

The survey also points to stress triggers. The largest percentage of respondents (35 percent) say their boss is their biggest stressor at work, and more than three-quarters (80 percent) say a change in organizational leadership (e.g. new boss or division head) has an impact on their stress level.

“There are many factors that cause increased stress levels at work, including keeping up with changes in technology, increased workloads and interpersonal conflict,” said Dennis Baltzley, Korn Ferry senior partner and global head of Leadership Development Solutions. “Obviously the capacity to deal with stress will vary from individual to individual, but organizations can take steps to help mitigate stress, such as offering training on new technologies and development for managers on how best to lead.”

The survey also found that a heavy workload is less stressful than looking for something to do. More than three-quarters (79 percent) of respondents said not having enough work is more stressful than having too much work. When considering balancing work and pay, nearly three-quarters (74 percent) say they would prefer more work but more compensation to less work and less compensation.

“There is the old adage that if you want something done, ask a busy person,” said Baltzley. “And while most professionals thrive on rewarding and challenging tasks, it’s critical that they have work/life balance to stay healthy and productive. Employers should be mindful of creating a work environment that offers employees clear, attainable goals.”

When it comes to talking about what is stressing them out at work, the professionals were split, with 47 percent saying they would confide in a co-worker, and 53 percent say they would not.

About the Survey

There were 1,951 responses to the survey of professionals, which took place in October 2018. Note, due to rounding percentages may not equal 100 percent.

Survey Responses

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

Much higher - 26 percent
Somewhat higher - 39 percent
Somewhat lower - 24 percent
Much lower - 10 percent

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

Your boss - 35 percent
Your co-workers - 14 percent
Too much work - 12 percent
Low salary - 19 percent
Long commute - 20 percent

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

Yes - 10 percent
No - 90 percent

Has stress at your job ever gotten so bad that it's forced you to quit?

Yes - 16 percent
No - 84 percent

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

To a great extent - 17 percent
To some extent - 59 percent
To no extent - 24 percent

How often do you lose sleep due to work stressors?

Never - 34 percent
Occasionally - 61 percent
Often - 5 percent

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

To a great extent - 19 percent
To some extent - 61 percent
To no extent - 20 percent

What is more stressful?

Too much work - 21 percent
Not enough work - 79 percent

When balancing work and pay, what would you prefer?

More work but more compensation - 74 percent
Less work but less compensation - 26 percent

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

Highly likely - 13 percent
Somewhat likely - 34 percent
Somewhat unlikely - 31 percent
Highly unlikely  - percent

To what extent would you agree with the following: Stress at home has a negative impact on my work productivity?

To a great extent - 15 percent
To some extent - 55 percent
To no extent - 30 percent

About Korn Ferry

Korn Ferry is a global organizational consulting firm. We help clients synchronize strategy and talent to drive superior performance. We work with organizations to design their structures, roles, and responsibilities. We help them hire the right people to bring their strategy to life. And we advise them on how to reward, develop, and motivate their people.