C-suite staff require more support with stress

Deadlines, heavy workloads, traffic-heavy commutes, poor management, expensive lunches and time-consuming meetings all contribute to C-suite stress

According to research from Beeja Meditation, 22% of senior management staff and business leaders experience stress in the workplace every day, and 26% feel stressed several times a week.

High workloads and tight deadlines were blamed for high stress levels, at 58% and 56% respectively.

But despite identifying the root causes companies are falling behind in providing support. When asked if they would want a policy to improve employee wellbeing, 64% of C-suite employees surveyed said yes, while 87% of respondents said having a wellbeing policy in place would bring benefits.

Will Williams, founder of Beeja Meditation, suggested that in many businesses, and especially with people in senior roles, tech overload is one of the biggest causes of stress because people struggle to switch off.

“It is an adrenaline culture to get stuff done that actually compromises physiological and neurological functions and underpins mental health issues,” said Williams. “In addition, there is a rampant culture of perfectionism that leads to negativity, misunderstandings, unattainable expectations, and a lot of negative self-talk.”

The stigma around stress was also surveyed, with 26% of C-suite employees strongly agreeing that there is a stigma around talking about stress and mental health issues at their workplace. Thirty-two per cent ‘somewhat agreed’ there is a stigma, and 46% were unsure if there was or not.

HR can ensure leadership are aware of their obligation to look after employees’ mental health.

Helen Giles, executive director of people and governance at St Mungo’s, told HR magazine: “The duty to provide a safe place of work applies to all employees, including senior managers, and this means HR should advise boards and CEOs that they have a legal duty of care to ensure that senior managers’ workloads and deadlines are manageable.”

Giles also thinks that senior managers should be paid the market rate for the job, and they should recognise that they are being paid for their knowledge and skills and not for stressing themselves into a state of physical and mental ill health.

“Good leaders should model work/life balance to their staff and not work round the clock so that the staff in turn think they have to do the same,” she added.

The research was compiled from a survey of 516 business leaders and senior management teams from around the UK.