The well-being of project professionals

Clara Cheung, Keith Cattell, Paul Bowen, Jocelyn Davis

Research output: Book/ReportOther reportpeer-review


The current survey of APM members was conducted in 2018 and 2019 using two psychometrically-validated scales: A Shortened Stress Evaluation Tool (ASSET) (comprising the core scales: 6 Essentials; Your Health, Psychological Well-being, and Engagement & Related Scales); and the Work-related Resilience scale; to measure well-being and resilience, respectively. The findings of the current study were benchmarked against the norm group that involved approximately 70,000 people surveyed between 2013 and 2017 from various organisations in the private and public sectors, which were collated in a database and referred to in this study as the General Working Population (GWP) 2017 norm, or the ‘norm group’. The benchmarking against the norm group makes it possible to evaluate the relative state of well-being and resilience in the project management profession, with a view to recommending ways of improving well-being and enhancing business outcomes. The results (see Figure 1), although partially positive (green shading), highlight several areas of concern (yellow and red shading). Four of the 6 Essentials subscales, i.e. Resources and communication, Balanced workload, Work relationships and Job conditions, show project professionals to be atypical, indicating high-risk areas, compared to the norm group. The Control and Job security and change subscales measured them as approaching high-risk. Regarding the two Psychological Well-being subscales, the Positive emotions subscale indicates that project professionals were typical compared to the norm group (despite all aspects of the 6 Essentials being either in the high-risk area, or approaching high-risk), while the Sense of purpose subscale showed that it was an approaching high-risk area for project professionals. As for the two Your Health subscales, although project professionals’ level of Strain on physical health was typical compared to the norm group, their level of Strain on psychological health was atypical, indicating it to be a high-risk area. The subscales of the Engagement & Related Scales indicate that project professionals’ perceived commitment of the organisation to employee was aligned with that of the norm group. However, their level of Engagement was approaching high-risk, and the level of commitment of employee to organisation was high-risk compared with the norm group. The Work-related Resilience scale portrays project professionals as a less resilient group (66% average) compared with the norm group (77% average). This means there is much room for improvement in their levels of confidence, adaptability, purposefulness, and social support in the face of difficulties. The Productivity scale measured project professionals’ productivity level as 66%. This level is considerably lower than the range of 70-75% typically measured in the general working population. Tests for significant differences were conducted between men and women, managers and employees, married and unmarried individuals, people from European and other countries, and according to basis of employment. Measured at the composite scale level, two of these, i.e. managerial/employee status and basis of employment, accounted for the majority of the significant differences found. The differences were as follows: for the 6 Essentials scale they were between managers and employees, people working in European and other countries, and according to basis of employment; for both the Psychological Well-being scale and the Engagement & Related scales scale they were between managers and employees; and for the Your Health scale they were according to basis of employment. The significant differences in the Productivity scale were according to basis of employment, while in the Work-related Resilience scale, they were between managers and employees and according to basis of employment. In all cases, managers were better off than were employees and self-employed people were better off than were people employed on any other basis. Recommendations on interventions were made with respect to both the organisational and individual levels. Organisational-level interventions are designed to enable the reduction of the adverse impacts of major project professionals’ workplace stressors. The interventions were categorised as: overall strategic interventions (i.e., create a positive workplace culture); operational planning interventions (i.e., strengths-based management and corporate level project planning); execution interventions (i.e., performance management); and continuity and growth (i.e., strategic training programme). Individual-level interventions within the workplace were proposed to help project professional themselves to reduce their adverse response to workplace stressors. These include learning to actively manage workplace stress through time, stress and energy management techniques, and the adoption of a strengths-based approach to their work assignments.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherAssociation for Project Management
Number of pages67
ISBN (Print)978-1-913305-01-7
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Well-being
  • Structural equation modeling
  • Stress
  • project professionals
  • project management


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