Nearly all senior managers say stress is a characteristic of their job

The cost-of-living crisis is the top cause of stress at work for people working in leadership and senior management rolesThe cost-of-living crisis is the top cause of stress at work for people working in leadership and senior management roles, according to the findings of a new survey by HR software provider Ciphr. Around 98 percent of the 265 leaders and senior managers polled found at least one aspect of their work stressful, while two-fifths (83 percent) are affected by three or more work-related stressors (the average, per person, is eight). Yet, despite the obvious stress their work causes them, just 4 percent claim not to like their jobs.

Their biggest concerns – the things currently causing them the most stress and anxiety in their jobs – were identified as the cost-of-living crisis (30 percent), high inflation and rising prices (29 percent), and exhaustion or burnout (22 percent).

Other major stress triggers, for one in five (20 percent) survey respondents, include coping with the economic downturn and threat of recession, their workload and to-do lists, and unfinished work tasks. And around one in six reported being worried by employee retention and staff turnover issues (17 percent), rising interest rates (17 percent), business viability and profitability concerns (16 percent), and ongoing wage inflation (16 percent).


The top 20 causes of workplace stress for leaders and senior managers:

  • Cost of living crisis (30 percent of senior managers)
  • High inflation and rising prices (29 percent)
  • Exhaustion / burnout (22 percent)
  • Economic downturn / recession (20 percent)
  • Workload and to-do lists (20 percent)
  • Unfinished work tasks (20 percent)
  • Employee retention and staff turnover (17 percent)
  • Rising interest rates (17 percent)
  • Business viability and profitability concerns (16 percent)
  • Wage inflation (16 percent)
  • Productivity problems (15 percent)
  • Pressure to perform well / expectations of others (15 percent)
  • Job security / losing my job (15 percent)
  • Growing the business / generating new revenue (15 percent)
  • Leadership responsibilities (14 percent)
  • Managing other people / the people I manage (14 percent)
  • Long working hours (14 percent)
  • Ongoing impact of Covid (14 percent)
  • Always on and always there culture (13 percent)
  • Employee development (12 percent)


Ciphr’s survey also claims that nearly one in two (47 percent) leaders and senior managers have felt stressed or anxious about their impending workweek – something often dubbed as getting the ‘Sunday scaries’, or ‘Sunday blues’, due to the intensity of some people’s feelings of anticipatory anxiety or dread before the start of a new week. Of those 47 percent, nearly a third (29 percent) have experienced the Sunday scaries multiple times over the past year. For around one in eight (13 percent), the problem is more acute, with the Sunday scaries striking multiple times every month. And, for one in 20 (5 percent), it occurs every week.