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Workplace Management

Global research identifies the employees most sensitive to work-related stress


While stress can take a hit on every one of us, there are some employees more sensitive to work-related stress than others. But what are their characteristics and how we can support them in the best way?

In recent decades, technological progress and globalisation have transformed our ways of working.

On the one hand globalisation has given us new opportunities in economic development but also increased the pressures from global competition. As a result, employers are looking for greater flexibility in the work process and increase the demands for part-time and temporary employments. These demands result in higher job insecurity and an increased likelihood of layoff of workers.

Technological advancements, on the other hand, are continuously dismissing the boundaries between work and personal life. This puts increased pressure on workers as they might feel that being connected all all times and responding quickly is a sign of good performance no matter if they are on vacation or at home.

Overall, this development holds plenty of danger. At work, stress makes us inefficient, decreases our engagement, hurts our creativity and steals our productivity. The biggest danger of all, however, is that it puts our health at risk.

Do different employees have different stress levels?

That being said, is it correct to assume that we all are stressed out at all times? Or are some employees just more sensitive to work-related stress? A year ago, this is exactly what the Deloitte Business Chemistry division decided to find out.

By grouping thousands of different respondents into different employee types based on their behaviour, the study identified the following 4 employee types to be found in the office:

differnet employee types

At the same time, the respondents were asked what stresses them in the workplace, how effective they perceive themselves to be when working in stressful environments and not least how they cope with it.

Guardians and Integrators are most likely to experience stress

Among the 4 types of employees visualised in the infographic above, the study found that the employees experience levels very differently and Guardians undoubtedly were the ones experiencing the highest stress levels of all followed by the Integrators. Why is that?

In general, Guardians are very detail-oriented, methodical and not comfortable with changes and new decisions. They need to have time to study every detail to the fullest.

Integrators on the other hand are much more focused on generating inputs from their colleagues and reaching consensus in a group. Hence this employee type depends on the collectivistic agreement, and similar to Guardians they value the status quo, the paths already taken and try to avoid the risk of the unknown.

While both employee types can bring huge values to the employee team, there is no doubt that their carefulness can be quite stressful to maintain in a fast-paced workplace.

Pioneers and Drivers show lower sensitiveness towards stress

Contrary to both Integrators and Guardians, the majority of Drivers (61 percent) and Pioneers (59 percent) responded that they feel more effective when being moderately or even very stressed. With their high degrees of adaptability and competitiveness, Pioneers and Drivers love to be in the front seat taking action. They are not easy to scare away from new challenges.

Pioneers and Drivers are great at brushing mistakes off their shoulders, while Guardians and Integrators are likely to spend a lot of time reflecting on what could have been done better and to some extent also take mistakes very personally.

This naturally has a strong impact on the levels of stress perceived.

There is no doubt that all 4 types of employee with their unique skill sets are of high value for any particular business – the question that arises, however, is: How can we as leaders and facility managers make them all feel comfortable in one single workplace?

Making the workplace a motivating and comfortable place for everyone

First and foremost, it is important to stress that both employers and workplace facilitators play a key role in reducing the amount of stress in the employees’ lives and the workplace is a great place to start.

Possible solutions where facility management providers may affect workers’ work-life balance include: Introducing more flexible working hours, being more accommodating as to where employees may conduct their work assignments, have an emphasis on the quality of the working environment (focusing on reducing noise levels, designing and implementing more break-out or private areas), the introduction of other amenities such as fitness rooms, day-care centres and more.

Overall and due to different levels of stress sensitivity among employees, it is necessary for facility managers to change their focus towards providing hospitality service instead of cleaning services in order to take care of their clients’ individual workforce needs.

Would you like to learn more about the Deloitte Business Chemistry research and assess which type of employee you are? Try the assessment here.

 Learn more about what we can expect from the workplace of the future. Download our  Vision 2020White Book: New Ways of Working – The workplace of the future.

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