Stress Hitting White-Collar Workers

Business professionals who are stressed out at the office are more likely to skip lunch breaks and respond to emails after hours.

Business professionals are stressed. And those who are stressed at their job are more likely to work through lunch, respond to an email after hours, and swear and cry at the office, according to a new Office Pulse study of more than 600 white-collar workers.

In total, nearly half of business professionals (45%) said their job stresses them out. That number jumps to 52% when looking at senior managers and above.

The reason they’re stressed? Because they’re not disconnecting from their jobs. In a world of constant connectivity, one in three business professionals admit to responding to emails after working hours. Additionally, they’re not taking breaks during the work day: more than half admitted to not taking a lunch break on a regular basis. 13% of white-collar workers skip their lunch break once a week, 26% work through lunch 2-3 times a week and 27% work through their break EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Studies have found that there are benefits to being active during a break. For example, going for a walk or exercising can help lower stress, but that’s hard to squeeze in a busy schedule if workers aren’t even taking a lunch break.

Stressed vs. Non Stressed Workers

Email after work

Stressed (39%)
Not Stressed (28%)


Gain weight

Stressed (57%)
Not Stressed (39%)


Attend unproductive meetings

Stressed (73%)
Not Stressed (54%)


Cry at work

Stressed (55%)
Not Stressed (50%)

Even when workers take time off, a whopping 74% say they think about the work they’ll have to do once they get back into the office.

All this stress is obviously not good for one’s health. In fact, two separate 2016 studies found that stressed employees may turn to unhealthy habits to find comfort or cope, and they may lack time for exercise and cooking healthy meals. Office Pulse found that 57% of stressed white-collar workers said their work schedule has led to weight gain.

Overall, 47% said their job has led to weight gain. That number rose to 58% when looking at those in at least a senior manager role.

Waterworks at Work

The study found that 52% of business professionals admitted to crying at work. That was heavily weighed by women.

Those who have cried at work:

Junior manager
Senior manager and above

Would You Grow a Manbun to Skip a Meeting?

How often do you find yourself being “unproductive” during the work day?

Never, I’m always busy and never have down time: 9%

Less than an hour a day: 50%

1-2 hours a day: 29%

2+ hours a day: 13%

Almost all business professionals (92%) said they find themselves unproductive at some point during the workday. In their unproductive time, many office workers admitted to checking their personal emails (74%), scrolling through social media (55%), shopping online (48%) and watching videos (16%). Another common write-in answer: Reading the news.

There’s also the issue of unproductive meetings. In total, 62% of business professionals said they often have unproductive meetings, and they’ll go to great lengths to get out of them in the future. 30% said they’d watch every season of ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians’ to get out of an unproductive meeting, 18% would get a root canal and 14% would ‘grow a man bun.’


Other insights include:

  • 14% admit that they’ve made someone cry at work
  • 28% said they’ve napped at work
  • 11% would give up Netflix/streaming to get out of an unproductive meeting
  • 68% of senior managers said they often have unproductive meetings

So, the next time you feel the pressure building up at work, find yourself scrolling through Facebook at your desk, or contemplate growing a man bun, just know that you’re not alone.


About Office Pulse

Office Pulse by Captivate offers marketers timely analysis and insights from a proprietary panel of upscale professionals in the top markets. The Office Pulse panel of more than 8,000 influential consumers and business decision makers includes C-level executives, Millennials, middle management, small business owners, working women and working moms.

About Captivate

Known for its vast network of nearly 12,000 elevator displays located in 1,600 premier office buildings across North America, Captivate connects advertisers with 13 million unique monthly viewers through creative, research-driven and Nielsen-measured advertising and marketing programs. By engaging its viewers with timely news and actionable information that helps balance the personal and professional demands of the workday, Captivate provides advertisers with a highly desirable and difficult-to-reach audience of affluent and influential business professionals. Founded in 1997, Captivate is owned by Generation Partners. For more information, please visit