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--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- 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 saying 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 22 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.

Korn Ferry
Liz Allison, 310-556-8583

Source: Korn Ferry