Managing Stress in the Workplace

Managing Stress in the Workplace

Stress in the workplace is an increasingly common phenomenon, affecting employees across various sectors. Understanding its causes, consequences, and control measures is crucial for maintaining a healthy stress-free work environment.

Failure to manage stress can lead to a range of business issues which have long and short-term impacts. Stressed employees will impact negatively on productivity which leads to reputational damage especially if the business starts missing deadlines or there are mistakes in orders.

According to data gathered from the Labour Force Survey (LFS), the Health and Safety Executives (HSE) most recent report for 2022/2023 shows that work related stress was a contributory factor to working days lost.   It was reported that 17.1 million days were lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety mental ill health.

You can see HSE statistics here.

It is important to remember that excessive stress causes mental and physical health problems.

What are the Main Causes of Stress in the Workplace?

Workplace stress stems from multiple sources, the HSE have identified there are six main drivers of stress at work:

1. Demands:

A demanding job role is a major cause of stress. This is compounded by other factors such as high staff turnover, absent staff, and tight deadlines. If you see someone struggling to keep up with the workload, the chances are they are highly stressed.

2. Control:

If your employees feel they have no control over how they approach their work, the chances are the blood pressure is increasing. When micromanagement raises its ugly head, employees get stressed.

3. Support:

A lack of support makes employees feel isolated and compounds other issues. It is very easy for the employee to believe that the weight of the business is on his or her shoulders. Support is essential in managing stress.

4. Relationships:

At work you build relationships with you colleagues. Should one of these be heading south then the chances are the stress levels will increase. If an employee is being bullied at work, then you can bet your next month’s pay that employee is under considerable stress.

5. Role:

It is important that employees understand their role. If they don’t, then stress rises as they question themselves and worry about disciplinary action. Given the current economic pressures most are feeling, job role uncertainty elevates stress.

6. Change:

If big changes are coming down the track and you don’t inform your employees of what they are drives uncertainty. In turn, this elevates stress levels and so it is good practice to keep them in the loop.


Understanding these causes is the first step in developing effective strategies to manage workplace stress.

What are the Consequences of Not Managing Stress in the Workplace?

Failing to address workplace stress can have significant consequences.

Health Issues:

Chronic stress can lead to mental health problems like anxiety and depression, and physical health issues such as heart disease. As well as being a dire situation, a staff member down puts more stress on colleagues and time and money are lost retraining replacement staff.

Reduced Productivity:

Stress can impair concentration, decision-making, and ultimately reduce productivity and work quality. This in turn can lead to reputational damage and loss of business.

Increased Absenteeism:

High stress levels often lead to increased sickness absence. Again, this puts more stress on colleagues to make up the shortfall leading to loss of morale and productivity.

Higher Staff Turnover:

Prolonged stress can lead to burnout, resulting in higher staff turnover. Time and money lost in retraining and impacts the rest of the business negatively.

Legal Issues:

Nearly every piece of health and safety legislation developed, places a duty of care in relation to stress on the organisations. As such, it carries the same accountability as any other form of harm encountered in the workplace.

So, what’s the next move to reducing stress in the workplace?

Managing Stress in the Workplace – Control Measurers

Managing stress in the workplace is not just a matter of individual responsibility; it requires a collective effort from both employees and employers. By understanding the causes, acknowledging the consequences, and implementing effective control measures, stress can be significantly reduced, leading to a more positive and productive work environment.

The HSE recommends that you take a 5Rs approach to stress management. This is a five step framework to help you focus on how to put the required control measures in place:


Reach out

It all starts with a conversation so hold meetings that encourage employees to discuss stress issues. This can be a group meeting, or you can do them one to one.


Keep in mind the 6 main drivers of stress mentioned earlier in this post


There are several ways to respond to the challenges of managing stress. Consider:

  • Completing a stress risk assessment and develop control measures.
  • Encouraging regular breaks so your employees can clear their heads and step away from what might be a very stressful job.
  • Adjusting start finish times to be suit your employees. They aren’t going to give you your best work if they are worrying about picking up their children from whoever is looking after them. Adjusting times to meet the needs of staff takes off a lot of pressure.
  • Regular meetings where issues can be discussed and hopefully resolved. Keep the meeting tightly focussed on pressures such as workloads and the environment.
  • Give employees an input in how their work is completed and allow them some say in the decision making process.
  • Train your staff, and managers at spotting signs of stress. Encourage an open two-way dialogue between managers and staff.

It is essential you follow up by:

  • Ensuring the control measures agreed are in place. If so, are they working? If not, you’ll need to think again. Gather input from staff.
  • Canvas feedback about the stress management control measures. Take the time to go through it and implement changes you feel will help.
  • Review the control measures and adjust accordingly. Remember that different individuals have different needs.
  • Be supportive and provide helplines and make appointments with GPs and other professionals if necessary.

It is important that stress management is built into your health and safety policy in the same way as fire prevention and drills. With this in mind, consider implementing the following:

  • Reduce the stigma of stress which is still prevalent today. This can be accomplished by normalising conversations about stress and how employees are feeling about the workplace generally. Do this regularly.
  • Review information such as sickness records, staff feedback and incident forms. It should become clear which employees are feeling the pressure.


By addressing the root causes of stress and implementing targeted control measures, employers can create a healthier, more productive work environment. This not only benefits the employees but also contributes to the overall success of the organisation.


Get Help to Reduce Stress in the Workplace

At Westminster Compliance we can help you write a stress at work risk assessment and implement a good stress management policy, along with providing you with training on Stress Management via our E-Learning academy  Get in touch today and keep your staff as stress free as possible.


About Us

Westminster Compliance was established to provide a more personal, proactive health and safety consultancy that would keep businesses working and compliant with ever-changing legislation.

Our presentations and training are interesting and fun because we want our clients to buy into health and safety, and definitely not to see it as a boring, unnecessary nuisance. We know that our best service is provided to small and medium sized organisations and have developed a system that works in most industries.
We stick with straightforward language, keeping away from jargon, and do not make ridiculous promises. Most importantly, we realise that we are working with human beings.

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