Over half of business owners feeling increasingly stressed

League Table

17 March 2010

More than half of leaders of privately held businesses (PHBs) globally (56%) feel their stress levels have increased over the last year. The research from the Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR) 2010 covers the opinions of over 7,400 business owners across 36 economies. Mainland China tops the league for the most stressed leaders (see figure 1) with 76% of business owners saying their stress levels have increased over the last year.

Other economies that featured high in the stress league table were Mexico (74%), Turkey (72%), Vietnam (72%) and Greece (68%). At the opposite end of the scale business owners in Sweden (23%), Denmark (25%), Finland (33%) and Australia (35%) have the lowest stress levels in the world.

There appears to be a link between stress levels and GDP. Business owners in mainland China, Vietnam, Mexico, India and Turkey all feature high on the stress league table and are working in environments where high growth is expected. But it's not just in countries expecting high growth that stress levels are high - at the opposite end of the growth scale Ireland, Spain and Greece all feature high on the league table. Said Alex MacBeath, global leader - markets at Grant Thornton International, "We have businesses at both ends of the GDP growth scale experiencing high stress for very different reasons. In mainland China the pressure is on to keep up with the pace of expansion while in Ireland, for example, the economy is retracting and business owners are worried about how they will keep their business alive."

Business owners were asked about the major causes of workplace stress. Not surprisingly, the most common cause during 2009 was the economic climate with 38% of respondents globally citing this as one of their major causes of stress. This was followed by pressure on cash flow (26%), competitor activities (21%) and heavy workload (19%). Alex MacBeath comments, "The causes of workplace stress can be categorised into three distinct groups  - economic, business and personal. Business owners feel pressures from all sides so while an employee may place more importance on personal elements such as their work/life balance, the business owner has additional pressures to consider." 

The survey also found a correlation between stress levels and the number of days off taken by an individual in a year (see figure 2). Countries at the top of the stress league are those where business owners, on average, take fewer holidays each year.

League Table

Vietnam, for example, is rated third in the stress league (with 72% of business owners citing increased stress levels during 2009) and at the bottom of the holiday league, with business owners on average taking just 7 days of holiday during the year. There were similar results for mainland China and Mexico. At the opposite end of the scale, business owners in northern Europe (Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Finland) appear at top of the scale for the number of holidays taken each year (between 22 and 24 days) and at the bottom of the stress league table.

Says Alex MacBeath, "Here we have business owners themselves providing robust evidence that those able to take more holidays are less stressed than their counterparts in countries where holidays are less frequent. Our experience of working with PHBs globally shows us that taking the time to step away from the business, to reflect and recharge can help owners to bring a new perspective to their decision making."

For further information please contact:

Christine Hobart
International communications manager
T +44 207 391 9548
E christine.hobart@gtuk.com