London, 18 November 2020 – A new survey by Association for Project Management (APM), to mark International Men’s Day (19 November), reveals that 57 per cent of men working in the project profession feel stressed as a result of their main project.
With England in the grip of a second national lockdown, concerns have been raised over the potential impacts of people’s mental health and wellbeing. The survey of over 1,000 project professionals*, carried out for APM by research company Censuswide, discovered that the key factors causing stress among men in the project profession include:
Feeling they have too much to do – cited by 39 per cent
Work-life balance suffering due to their main project – cited by 35.9 per cent
Unrealistic expectations from project stakeholders – cited by 35 per cent
Their main project impacting their home life and personal relationships – cited by 24.8 per cent
It was discovered that the majority (62 per cent) of all project professionals surveyed – both men and women – currently feel stressed due to their main project. The most common cause of stress among female project managers is that they feel they have too much to do 49.85 per cent.
The survey also reveals that although the majority of male project professionals feel their employers are doing a good job in supporting mental health at work, over one quarter (25.4 per cent) of men and nearly a third (32.3 per cent) of women don’t think their workplace is doing enough.
Ahead of International Men’s Day, Dr Derek Mowbray, an organisation health psychologist specialising in the prevention of stress said: “These results demonstrate there are still significant numbers of employees experiencing degrees of stress in areas that are managerially controllable. Stress is experienced when we feel out of mental control in relation to something that is perceived as a threat.
“To overcome these events successfully we have to transform our perception from being threatened, to be challenged. If we perceive events as a challenge we are triggered to be energised to rise to the challenge and, hopefully, overcome it. We can’t do that if we feel stressed.
There are gender differences in handling stressful situations. Women are much more likely to recognise their own stress, and often prefer to handle this through their relationships with those around them. In a sense they spread the stress to dissipate it.
Men are more reluctant to recognise their own stress, they tend to keep it to themselves until its discovered by others, whilst women are more open about how they feel.”
Dr Mowbray goes on to provide some tips in helping people transform feelings of threat into challenges:
Establish mutual expectations with everyone on just about everything you do that involves others
Agree, with others also agreeing, the mutual expectations
Establish as part of the mutual expectations process, your red lines for balancing domestic and work activities and time and agree these with everyone involved.
Agree, with those managing the projects, these red lines, and stick to them!
Debbie Dore, chief executive of APM said: “As the chartered body for the project profession, we take the mental health and wellbeing of the whole project community seriously and understand the negative impact it can have.
“We have seen on numerous occasions how resilient and adaptable project professionals can be, even in the most challenging situations. However, positive mental wellbeing is important for everyone and we are committed to supporting all those working in the profession who are feeling a strain on their mental health at the current time.
“We also encourage employers to do all they can to review the support mechanisms provided for staff and how these can be improved upon.”
*Of the 1005 project professionals responding to the Censuswide survey there were 519 men and 486 women
Data from across the different industry sectors in relation to project professionals (men and women) and stress is available on request
Derek Mowbray is a director of The Management Advisory Service (MAS). He is a past visiting Professor of Psychology at two UK Universities, and an Independent Technical Expert to the European Commission on Psychological Wellbeing.
Association for Project Management (APM) is the only chartered body for the project profession, with over 30,000 individual members and more than 500 organizations participating in our Corporate Partnership Programme.
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