In today’s corporate environment, workplace stress seems inevitable — but people react to pressure differently. Faced with the same trigger, one person may remain cool as a cucumber while another melts down.
A newly-released study by the Deloitte Greenhouse Experience asked more than 23,000 professionals about their stress levels at work, and found their responses to stressors might have something to do with business chemistry, a system for understanding individual work styles. Deloitte identifies four business chemistry types:
- Integrators seek connection and bring teams together
- Drivers seek challenge and generate momentum
- Pioneers seek possibilities and spark energy and imagination
- Guardians seek possibilities and bring order and rigor
The study found that 28 percent of respondents are often or almost always stressed. The top stress triggers in today’s work environment include workplace errors, a challenging workload with long hours or multiple responsibilities, and moments of conflict.
It also found that business chemistry type affects how individuals experience stress at work, with guardians reporting the most stress, followed by integrators, drivers and pioneers.
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A second study with a sample of more than 17,000 professionals found people also cope with stress differently, depending on their business chemistry type:
Action is the most popular strategy overall, used by 83 percent of respondents and all Business Chemistry types. As the famous saying goes: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
Cognitive strategies, like considering the big picture or thinking through possibilities, are also common. Nearly 90 percent of pioneers reported using these methods to cope, while less than 70 percent of guardians did.
This pattern was reversed when it came to strategies associated with doing more groundwork, like organizational tasks or seeking further information. Both kinds of strategies involve stepping back from the stressful situation, but the guardian approach is more detail-focused while the pioneer approach takes a broader view.
Interpersonal coping strategies, such as talking to someone about feelings or asking for help, are less common overall — reported by just 47 percent of respondents. The more relationship-oriented and team-focused types — integrators and pioneers — reported using these strategies more than others.
Overall, pioneers are the least stressed and reported using coping strategies more than any other type.
So what does this mean for business leaders who want to help their employees cope with stress? Try to take notice when your experience of a situation seems different from those around you. You may think something is a piece of cake, but others might need some time or space or reassurance to deal with what’s happening.
You may also want to consider how to make space for different styles of coping. Instead of looking skeptical when someone hops out for a quick yoga class or feeling impatient when someone else wants to slow down to outline a clear plan, recognize these as coping strategies and let them manage their stress levels in their own unique ways.
A better understanding of how others cope with stress can have a big impact in making your team more productive and efficient.
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