Stress is one of the largest impediments to business productivity. Research from The American Institute of Stress discovered that 94% of workers report feeling stress at work. Stress is a silent killer, causing an estimated one million Americans to miss work each day and resulting in $500 billion in lost productivity per year.
While good software can maximize productivity and minimize headaches, not all programs are developed equally. And as offices shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic and work shifted to remote settings, companies began relying on software more than ever before. According to the error monitoring tool Bugsnag, in the first quarter of 2020, there was a 627% increase in web conferencing app downloads in North America, a 613% increase in telemedicine app downloads, and a 511% increase in electronic signature services downloads.
While the increase in software adoption buoyed the best software to the top of the app store — Zoom, for example — it also made apparent the programs causing customers the most stress thanks to bugs, errors and other technical difficulties. OnDeck knows that using the right tools can often be as important as hiring the right people. We identified the most and least stressful business software to take some of the hassle out of your hustle.
What We Did
We built a shortlist of the most popular business apps by category before finding their review profiles on TrustRadius. We pulled the reviews related to every software and analyzed them using sentiment analysis TensiStrength, an academic language tool that detects stress in short passages of text. We categorized the review as stressed if the stress level returned by the tool was from -5 to -3.
- With 58.0% of reviews including a stressed sentiment, anti-malware tool Malwarebytes is the most irksome business software.
- Sprout Social is the least stressful software within the Marketing category and our whole study — with only 1.8% of reviews including a stressed sentiment.
- Finance and Accounting is the most stressful category of business software, with 26.8% of software reviews indicating stress on average.
- Marketing is the least stressful category of business software, with 11.4% of software reviews indicating stress on average.
The Most Stressful Software Programs Are for Money Or Employee Management
Some of the most stressful software programs deal with money and employee management. Some 43.9% of reviews for cloud-based payroll software Gusto indicate stress — the second most of any software in our analysis. In reviews, customers commonly cite the lack of customer support as the major issue with the software.
Similarly, 36.6% of reviews for payroll software Paychex Flex indicate stress — the third most of any software — yet for different reasons than Gusto. On TrustRadius, many Paychex Flex users struggle with poor user interface, difficult onboarding process and excessive fees.
Finance and Accounting Is the Most Stressful Software Category
Different software categories tend to induce different levels of stress. For example, 26.8% of reviews for finance and accounting software indicate stress — the most of any category. The most stressful app within this genre is Paychex Flex, with 36.6% of reviews detailing irks with software usability and user fees.
Meanwhile, the least stressful business software category is marketing. On average, 11.4% of reviews for marketing apps indicate stress, less than a third of the stressed-out rate for finance and accounting software. However, 21.7% of reviews for Buffer — the most irksome marketing software — indicate stress, resulting in a ranking as the 19th most stressful business software overall.
Low-Stress Alternatives to Popular Software
While Zoom exploded during the pandemic — skyrocketing from 10 million daily meeting participants in December 2019 to 300 million in April 2020 and quickly becoming the video conferencing software of choice — many reviewers prefer alternative tools. Just 12.0% of reviews for Dialpad Meetings, for example, indicate stress — less than the 15.8% stress rate for Zoom and the least of any communication software.
Looking at the least stressful business software in each category reveals other low-stress alternatives to popular software. ADP Workforce Now, for example, is the most popular HR software in our analysis, with over 1,000 TrustRadius reviews. While ADP is the most popular, it is also relatively stressful, with 21.0% of reviews indicating some sort of annoyance with the software. A hassle-free alternative may be BambooHR, with just 8.8% of reviews including a stressed sentiment — the least of any HR software.
Stressed Software Developers Make Stress-Inducing Software
The pandemic accelerated pre-existing trends in the business world, elevating good software and making issues with buggy, error-prone software more apparent. As software usage increases, so does user data — there are more reviews and analyses of software programs than ever before.
There is also data on the issues plaguing software developers. In a June 2022 study published in Empirical Software Engineering, researchers found that during the pandemic developers struggled most with accommodating increased user loads, reduced productivity and lack of communication with team members.
Many of the issues plaguing programmers on the development end are reflected by the experience of users. Paylocity, for example, is one of the most stressful software programs, with 32.2% of reviews indicating stress. On TrustRadius, complaints about Paylocity commonly cite missing functionality, inability to handle large traffic loads and poor customer service applications — many of the issues programmers foresaw from the disrupted development process caused by the pandemic. Click through the table below to learn more about the most and least stressful software programs and categories.
Finding the Right Software For Your Business Needs
The high-stakes world of business has always been stressful. As commerce moves increasingly from the physical world to digital space and software becomes more integrated into the business process, knowing which software to adopt or avoid can save businesses time, money and frustration. Star ratings give one indication of quality, but the share of reviewers who experience stress gives an important insight into a software program’s true user experience. So before you download, subscribe or sign-up, make sure you’re aware of which software is best and which will leave you stressed.
To create these tables, we built a shortlist of the most popular business apps by category before finding their review profiles on TrustRadius. We pulled the reviews related to every software and analyzed them using TensiStrength, an academic language tool that detects stress in short passages of text. We categorized the review as stressed if the stress level returned by the tool was from -5 to -3. Before aggregating data, we dropped the products with fewer than 50 reviews.
The data was collected in June 2022.