TORONTO: Business conditions the past few years have been unsettling and you’d think that would crank up stress levels felt by CEOs and other senior executives, but surprisingly they’re showing the lowest annual increase since 2005 – except in Canada, according to a global study by the Grant Thornton consulting firm.
Of 6,000 businesses surveyed for the Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR), 28% reported increased levels of stress last year, compare to 45% in 2010. In Canada, 18% of business leaders were showing higher stress levels, up from 16% in 2010 but still below historical levels, such as 2007 when 29% were reporting higher stress.
US senior executives appear to be coming down this year with 20% of them stressed, compared to 36% the previous year.
Asia Pacific business people are the most stressed, with 44% reporting increased levels in the last 12 months, but that’s down from 58% in 2010.
“As the economic crisis has continued, the majority of business leaders have learned to better manage the challenges they are facing, including dealing with stress by adjusting to more realistic performance measures and goals. This is just as true in the booming BRIC economies as in troubled Europe,” says Ed Nusbaum, CEO of Grant Thornton International.
Grant Thornton says it’s seeing more effective management of economic volatility and uncertainty. Businesses have also learned to analyze risks better, factoring them into their performance, and are setting themselves more realistic targets.
“And, of course, some businesses are faring well despite the bleak economic backdrop,” says Nusbaum.
The IBR indicates that reaching performance targets is by far the biggest headache for businesses—globally, 30% of business leaders cite it as the major cause of workplace stress, and it is ranked highest in 37 of the 40 economies covered by the survey (with Canada at 28%). Less cited are stress caused by the volume of communications (11% globally and 9% in Canada), office politics (11% globally and 16% in Canada) and work/life balance (9% both globally and in Canada).
Download a copy of the report here.