Work-related stress and how to tackle it

Work-related stress and how to tackle it

Employers have a legal duty to protect employees from stress at work by doing a risk assessment and acting on it.

What is stress?

Health Safety Executive (HSE) defines stress as ‘the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them’.

Employees feel stress when they can’t cope with pressures and other issues. Employers should match demands to employees’ skills and knowledge. For example, employees can get stressed if they feel they don’t have the skills or time to meet tight deadlines. Providing planning, training and support can reduce pressure and bring stress levels down.

Stress affects people differently – what stresses one person may not affect another. Factors like skills and experience, age or disability may all affect whether an employee can cope.

There are six main areas of work design which can effect stress levels. You should manage these properly. They are:

demands
control
support
relationships
role
change
Employers should assess the risks in these areas to manage stress in the workplace.

What causes stress

There are six main areas that can lead to work-related stress if they are not managed properly. These are: demands, control, support, relationships, role and change.

For example, employees may say that they:

are not able to cope with the demands of their jobs
are unable to control the way they do their work
don’t receive enough information and support
are having trouble with relationships at work, or are being bullied
don’t fully understand their role and responsibilities
are not engaged when a business is undergoing change
Stress affects people differently – what stresses one person may not affect another. Factors like skills and experience, age or disability may all affect whether an employee can cope.

By talking to your employees and understanding how to identify the signs of stress, you can prevent and reduce stress in your workplace.

Signs of stress

If employees start acting differently, it can be a sign they are stressed. Managers should look out for signs of stress in teams and employees, listed below. Think about whether the stress could be linked to work pressure.

Acting early can reduce the impact of pressure and make it easier to reduce or remove the causes. If managers are worried that an employee is showing some of these signs, they should encourage them to see their GP. These signs can be symptoms of other conditions. If there is something wrong at work, and this has caused the problem, managers should take action.

Signs of stress in teams

There may be signs of stress in a team, like:

arguments
higher staff turnover
more reports of stress
more sickness absence
decreased performance
more complaints and grievances
Employers must assess the risks of work-related stress in their workplace and take action to protect employees.

Signs of stress in an employee

A change in the way someone acts can be a sign of stress, for example they may:

take more time off
arrive for work later
be more twitchy or nervous
A change in the way someone thinks or feels can also be a sign of stress, for example:

mood swings
being withdrawn
loss of motivation, commitment and confidence
increased emotional reactions – being more tearful, sensitive or aggressive
Employees can help look after their own stress levels at work - if you think you have a problem talk to your manager, a colleague or your GP.

Stress is not an illness but it can make you ill. Recognising the signs of stress will help employers to take steps to stop, lower and manage stress in their workplace.

How to help

The earlier a problem is tackled the less impact it will have. If you think that an employee is having problems, encourage them to talk to someone, whether it’s their line manager, trade union representative, GP or their occupational health team.

Help for line managers to have simple, practical conversations with employees which can help prevent stress is available in our Talking Toolkits (PDF) - Portable Document Format .

To protect employees from stress at work, employers should assess risks to their health. These example stress risk assessments may help.

You may need to develop individual action plans for employees suffering from stress. HSE’s Management Standards may also help you to identify and manage the six causes of stress at work.

Author: Natalia Revishvili
About author: Natalia Revishvili is a professional financial content writer and editor with an extensive experience in technical analysis and the Forex market. Over the past few years, she has been successfully trading on Forex using the trends, support, resistance and technical formations. Now Natalia, apart from trading Forex for living and being technical analysts for financial websites, is a happy owner of two dogs traveling round the world.