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More project managers experiencing stress at work, new survey by APM finds

More than three-quarters of project professionals are experiencing stress due to their work – significantly more than a year ago, according to new data from Association for Project Management (APM), the chartered membership organisation for the project profession.

A survey of 1,000 project practitioners, undertaken for APM by research company Censuswide, revealed that 76 per cent of respondents said their main project has caused them stress, or is currently making them feel stressed. A separate survey 12 months previously asked the same question and found that only 62 per cent of respondents said their main project was causing them stress.

The survey also investigated workplace factors contributing to stress. The most common responses were:

  • Supply chain issues (cited by 32 per cent of respondents)
  • Inadequate support from managers (cited by 31 per cent of respondents)
  • Working remotely (cited by 29 per cent of respondents)

With supply issues continuing to cause disruption across the United Kingdom, Europe and beyond, the impact on projects in all sectors is being keenly felt.

The survey showed that younger project managers were statistically more likely to experience feelings of stress than more senior people in the profession. It also revealed project experts in certain industry sectors were more likely to experience feelings of stress than others. The industries with respondents most likely to say they’re experiencing stress as a result of their main project are:

  • Legal (89 per cent)
  • Healthcare and pharmaceuticals (83 per cent)
  • Telecoms (82 per cent)

‘Make a positive difference’

There are reasons to be positive however, as there is evidence that employers are doing more to help their project teams tackle stress. The survey discovered that 83 per cent of respondents feel their workplace is doing enough to support the mental health and wellbeing of its project professionals. One year ago, only 71 per cent felt this way.

The new survey was carried out ahead of International Stress Awareness Week (1-5 November); an annual event that raises awareness of stress management and campaigns against the stigma associated with stress and mental health issues.

Professor Adam Boddison, APM’s chief executive, yesterday said:

“Project-based work is characterised as fast-paced and dynamic. While this creates an exciting environment for many project professionals, it also has the potential to negatively affect people’s physical and mental health if support from supervisors or colleagues is not in place, or if there are uncontrollable external pressures such as those brought about by the supply chain crisis.

“Events such as International Stress Awareness Week are a valuable opportunity for everybody to discover more about issues surrounding mental health in the workplace – including for people delivering projects – and to consider how they can make a positive difference for themselves and others.”

APM has created an online mental health toolkit for project managers to help them understand the factors that can contribute to stress, and how to address them.


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