Not surprisingly, four-fifths of executives and managers are stressed,
with a third saying they are highly stressed. And the stress does not
appear to be going away, based on a recent survey of senior executives
and managers nationwide as well as a similar survey conducted two years ago by NFI Research.
“Stress is now greater than I can remember, in my 30 years of work history,” said one survey respondent.
“The 40-hour work week is a myth for most managers,” said another
respondent. “It is expected that we work 50 to 60 hours to get the job
done and a large number of things still don’t get completed because of
unrealistic expectations. We are still human beings who can only do so
much in a day.”
Almost a third of survey respondents cited number of hours
worked as a cause of stress while more than a third cited expectations
as a cause.
“The biggest cause of stress is the unrealistic expectations in
the volume of work that is expected,” said one manager. “The second is
the amount of time that is expected. Not that long ago, extra time at
the office would get you ahead; now extra time is needed just to keep your head.”
Said another: “One of the main stresses we all feel is too much to do
and declining resources needed to get the job done. Fewer employees
means more responsibility and less time to focus on any one thing. We
must learn to manage ourselves better and teach staff to do the same.”
The top causes of stress for the majority of executives and
managers are, in order: deadlines, interruptions, conflicting
responsibilities, expectations and e-mail overload.
Several respondents cited internal workplace issues, such as management issues and office politics, as stress causes.
“One of the major stressors is the excruciatingly slow planning,
communication and execution of strategy by top management,” said one
“Regular stress is good, it keeps you on
edge,” said another. “However, bureaucratic stress is very difficult to
deal with. It exists between the towers if they are allowed to
Said another: “New management is moving fast to straighten out
past problems, which causes more stress because of reduced cost and
expense. The new objectives are in direct contrast to each other, which
gives us a pay-me-now or pay-me-now and also pay-me-later situation.”
“The vast majority of my stress comes from the gamesmanship of
my peers,” said another manager. “Too often, serving our customers
comes after serving our own desire for power, recognition or simply job
Some also said their cause of stress is essentially self-imposed.
“To be honest, much of the stress I experience is due to my
taking on more projects and responsibilities, believing that they can
be done and on time,” said one respondent. “And they almost always are,
but with extra effort and time. But I seem to thrive on it.”
A certain amount of stress at work can keep people energized
and focused on critical tasks. However, with the current stress levels,
more executives and managers might find themselves too pressured to
keep sight of what really matters, and that is not likely to be good