Help manage workplace stress with employee personality insights

Help manage workplace stress with employee personality insights

When employees experience stress at work their wellbeing and job performance suffer (Mofoluwake, A.P & Oluremi, A.H). As a manager, it is important to understand when your employees might be stressed on the job. Our primary personality traits can determine the types of situations that we find stressful in the workplace. By gaining insight into their personality, you can proactively manage stress in your workplace.

The Workstyle & Performance Profile (WPP) can help uncover the circumstances that employees are likely to find the most stressful based on their primary traits. The chart below outlines these situations as well as provides management tips for how to help mitigate these triggers:

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Employees with Non-Dominant as a primary personality trait are stressed by situations where they are asked to lead or take charge or when they feel they need to be assertive, especially to authority figures.

Manager Tip: Allow these workers to collaborate on projects where they are not expected to lead. Check in with them to see how they are progressing, and whether they are experiencing any barriers. 


Employees that are primarily Dominant get stressed when they do not have any power to make decisions or the opportunity to take charge and lead projects.

Manager Tip:
Provide Dominant workers with as much decision-making capacity as reasonable in their role, and look for opportunities where they can lead a task or initiative.


Employees with Contented as a primary trait are stressed by tasks that stretch their capabilities and by targets that they perceive as unattainable. Also, when they perceive that their work is invading their personal life.

Manager Tip: Ensure that Contented workers are given tasks that are within their comfort zone. Check in periodically to ensure that they are satisfied with their work-life balance.


Employees that are primarily Achievement-Focused become stressed when they are unable to complete tasks to their expectations, there’s a lack of recognition for the quality of their work, or stagnancy in their growth and development.

Manager Tip: Allow these employees to have input in setting their own objectives and help provide perspective if they are unable to reach them.


Employees with Reactive as a primary trait will become stressed by time constraints and high-pressured tasks, especially when others downplay their concerns. They will be more reactive to the stressors of their other dominant traits.

Manager Tip: Pay attention to Reactive workers as they tend to experience stress more frequently. Limit stressful work and tight timelines, and validate their concerns.


Employees that are primarily Calm tend to have a higher tolerance to stress and workplace pressures. However, they may find themselves in situations where they take on too many tasks with not enough time to complete them.

Manager Tip: Check in with Calm workers to ensure that they are managing their workload effectively.


Employees with Reserved as a primary trait become stressed by constant immersion with others or interactions with new people.

Manager Tip: Allow Reserved employees to work independently and give them time to reflect when needed. Reserved workers are also not likely to show signs of stress outwardly, so check in with them periodically.


Employees that are primarily Outgoing become stressed by social isolation as well as the inability to interact and share their thoughts, feelings or opinions with others.

Manager Tip: Allow outgoing workers the opportunity to socialize with others and express themselves verbally when they are experiencing stress.


Employees with Direct as a primary trait become stressed by ambiguity in communication or the sense that someone is ‘sugar-coating’ feedback.

Manager Tip: Ensure that you are clear and straightforward with requests and feedback, especially constructive criticism.


Employees that are primarily Empathetic become stressed by perceived interpersonal conflict on the team or being treated with insensitivity or disrespect.

Manager Tip: Communicate that you care about the well-being of the employee and ask them what they need to feel supported.


Employees with Spontaneous as a primary trait become stressed by imposed structure and rigidity in how to complete their tasks and reach their objectives.

Manager Tip: Empower these workers by allowing them to choose the way in which they get things done, while still being accountable to the desired end-result.


Employees that are primarily Regimented become stressed by uncertainty about the future or a lack of planning or organization.

Manager Tip: Ensure that you explicitly articulate a clear plan and schedule of events to these employees when starting a new project, or when changing direction.


Employees with Conventional as a primary trait become stressed by constant change or implementation of unproven ideas as well as disruptions to their routine that they perceive as inefficient or without reason.

Manager Tip: Allow Conventional workers extra time to adapt to change and clearly explain the reasoning and purpose.


Employees that are primarily Open-Minded become stressed by situations where they perceive that their ideas are not being considered or implemented, or when they feel that the team is not innovating.

Manager Tip: Allow Open-minded workers the opportunity to share their ideas and try your best to incorporate their ideas when possible.


Managing employee stress can be difficult and each employee will have a unique profile of dominant traits. Understanding your employees’ personality traits can provide insight into the workplace situations that they find most stressful.  These insights can allow you to take proactive measures to help prevent those stressful situations. Approaching different employees in different ways based on their unique profile of traits allows you to manage stress more effectively on your team.

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