Stressed CEOs are compromising their health and wellbeing over work pressures

30th October 2018

Photo: praetorianphoto/iStock

If you’ve ever felt pressured or overloaded at work, spare a thought for the company boss.

Honestly, the head of your organisation may seem like they have everything under control, handing out tasks and barking orders seemingly at will. However, not far beneath that cool, authoritative exterior is possibly a highly stressed person.

This isn’t some random observation but one of the headline findings from a new survey of chief executives and small business owners.

Almost half (44 per cent) of the 352 UK company bosses questioned by business mentors Vistage admitted they have felt forced to compromise their health and wellbeing as a result of pressure at work.

Thankfully, a good portion of these stressed CEOs are doing something about it, with a quarter (24 per cent) of leaders seeking outside support to help cope with work-related stress.

Meanwhile, just over one in ten (12 per cent) said they would ‘always prioritise their health and wellbeing over their work’.

Fine line between committed and being a martyr

This survey is far from the first time concerns have been raised over the increased pressures facing senior employees and the knock-on for their wellbeing.

Research by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) earlier this year suggested that managers were facing a mental health crisis, with one in ten taking time off work for mental health issues in the past year, for an average of 12 days.

Geoff Lawrence, general manager at Vistage, admitted that business leaders should expect a certain amount of added pressure, but there was a limit.

“Being a boss can mean having to put your body on the line from time to time,” he said, “but there’s a fine line between making sacrifices and becoming a martyr to the cause.”

Mr Lawrence went on to confess that striking the right balance can be tricky for business leaders, especially if they have built their organisation from the ground up.

“They want to do everything, be everywhere, and be involved in every decision, but almost inevitably that type of approach ends in a crash. There’s no shame in sharing the load,” he added.

Middle managers squeezed

Back in May, the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) sympathised with managers, who were expected to establish company culture whilst being under huge pressure.

Chris O’Sullivan, head of workplace mental health at the MHF said: “For too long, there has been a culture of driving middle managers hard to achieve results without giving them the time to manage their people, a culture of promoting the best salesperson or project manager into management without thinking about their people skills, and the culture among some leaders of putting themselves last.

“This has to end if we want to see mentally healthy workplaces.”

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Photo: praetorianphoto/iStock