One in Two see Career Progress Hindered by Confidence Issues

One in two people are being held back in their careers because of confidence issues and fears around making mistakes, new research from Nyenrode Business University and IE University has found. 

Of the 1,000 people surveyed, over 40 per cent admitted that they spent around 20-40 per cent of their time at work about getting things wrong. Women were found to struggle more with confidence issues than men, with 46 per cent experiencing confidence issues compared to 33 per cent of men. 

Younger, highly educated professionals were significantly more likely than any other demographic to suffer with confidence issues at work, the research found with nearly 70 per cent attributing confidence issues to productivity. 

Peter Ryding, serial turnaround CEO and founder of, said the research indicated a symptom of an increasingly ‘VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) world’ so it was ‘unsurprising’ that half of us are suffering with confidence issues in the workplace. 

He said:

“We need to support managers and HR to change their approach when it comes to encouraging more confidence in the workplace. We all know that innovation is critical for survival and that means experimenting and sometimes failing. The question is, do we educate our people in proven techniques such as ‘test and learn’ or do we celebrate the learning-from failures instead of punishing those people who actually had a go? 

“One hundred years on from Pavlov’s canine experiments, we know that if you punish failure, you kill creativity. If you don’t give your people the skills they need and the self-belief and motivation to have a go, they will procrastinate and ultimately, lose confidence as this research has shown.”