MANILA, FEBRUARY 9, 2012 (INQUIRER) By: Doris C. Dumlao - Don’t ask Filipino businessmen if it’s more fun in the Philippines.

They’re not having much of it.

Results of an international research released the other day said more Filipino business leaders were stressed out compared to their foreign peers toward the end of 2011 in the face of, among other things, government underspending and the adverse effects of an international financial crisis.

On a global basis, the levels of stress felt by business leaders posted the most notable improvement since 2005 but those who felt better off in the Philippines improved only slightly, according to a research of 6,000 businesses by the Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR).

Based on the results released by the Grant Thornton local member firm, Punongbayan & Araullo (P&A), 41 percent of business leaders worldwide reported an increase in stress levels in the final quarter of 2011 compared to 56 percent the previous year.

In the Philippines, however, the numbers decreased by only three percentage points—from 55 percent in 2010 to 52 percent in 2011.

Pressure to hit targets

Asked about their specific and major sources of stress, 31 percent of Filipino business leaders cited the pressure to reach their targets—the same concern that topped the list of stressors globally and in the Southeast Asian region.

“When we looked at stress levels two years ago, there was a significant improvement from 2007 and we attributed that to the expected rebound from the 2008 financial crisis,” Marivic Españo, P&A managing partner and chief executive officer said in a press statement.

“What the latest results tell us is the expected turnaround may not have happened quite the way business leaders expected,” Españo explained.

Dealing with stress

“Close to home, we had to grapple with government underspending and several natural disasters, and then overseas, there’s the European debt crisis and the sluggish recovery of the US economy. Surely these factors would stress out business leaders who are still working to recover from the economic volatility of the past few years,” Españo said.

The good news is Filipino business leaders have ways of dealing with the tension.

Asked how they relieve stress, an overwhelming majority of Filipinos cited a number of options for relaxation.

Ninety-seven percent of all local business leaders polled said they preferred to stay in and find entertainment at home, while nine out of 10 said they made sure they kept a regular work pattern and delegate work to others.

Furthermore, 82 percent of local business leaders said they took holidays to relieve stress.

Nothing beats family

Even so, the Philippines ranked among the countries that took the fewest number of vacation days—11 compared to the global average of 14 days.

Españo thus suggested that local business leaders must turn to sports to relieve stress.

“It’s encouraging to see that our business leaders have found several ways to mitigate the effects of stress. I think we can point to our family-oriented culture for the popularity of staying at home as a relaxing option,” she said.

“But moving forward, it would probably be good to see an increase in business leaders who are turning to exercise and sports as a stress reliever. In Finland, for example, it’s the most popular stress reliever at 92 percent.

Healthy way to recharge

Not only is it a healthy way to recharge, it will also help the executives stay fit for what will continue to be challenging times for the business community.”

The Grant Thornton IBR provides insight into the views and expectations of over 11,500 businesses per year across 40 economies.

The survey draws on 20 years of trend data for most European participants and nine years for many non-European economies.

The data for the survey were drawn from interviews with 6,000 business leaders across the globe conducted between September and December 2011.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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