82% cite making an error at work as top cause of stress


Employees’ stress levels in the workplace and how they react to causes of stress may be dependent on individuals’ personality types, according to research by Deloitte.

Its Business Chemistry stress study, which surveyed 23,000 professionals, found that the majority (82%) of respondents said that making an error at work was the top driver of stress in a corporate environment.

This was followed by a challenging workload, which included working long hours or juggling multiple responsibilities cited by 52% of respondents.

Overall, 57% of respondents reported being stressed sometimes, while 14% were rarely stressed, 25% were often stressed and 3% claimed to always be stressed.

The research also found:

  • 52% of respondents were stressed during moments of conflict, such as getting reprimanded or delivering a difficult message.
  • 46% of respondents experienced more stress in situations that created urgency, for example time sensitive or critical projects.
  • 45% of respondents found face-to-face interactions, such as delivering a presentation or leading a meeting, stressful.

The study surveyed a further 17,000 respondents about how their coping strategies for dealing with stress. Action strategies, such as tackling the issue head on, were the most popular method, cited by 82%, followed by cognitive coping strategies, such as stepping back and thinking through possibilities (79%) and groundwork, such as getting organised or seeking further information (78%). In addition, 47% said they use interpersonal coping strategies, such as talking to someone and bouncing ideas around.

Kim Christfort, managing director at Deloitte and national managing director at The Deloitte Greenhouse Experience Team, said: “The survey indicates that workplace stress is relative and not everyone experiences stress in the same way or to the same degree. Much likely depends on that person’s working style and preferences.”

Sign up to our newsletters

Receive news and guidance on a range of HR issues direct to your inbox

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Suzanne Vickberg, senior manager at Deloitte and applied insights lead at The Deloitte Greenhouse Experience Team, said: “Organisations and teams may want to pay special attention to their inward-focused team members to understand what might be done to reduce stress levels.

“Inward-focused types may bring particular strengths that can add value to a team, like conscientiousness, strong listening skills and detail-focus. Their tendency to be sensitive to others’ experiences and reactions can help improve team collaboration and performance, but they are often the most stressed, and overlooked, members of the team.”