Managing Stress at Work

April is National Stress Awareness Month. This stress awareness month T2M are looking at how to identify, understand, and manage stress within the workplace, and what managers can do to address stress-related issues from their employees.

Stress Awareness Month

Research has shown that:

  • One in five people say they find their work either very or extremely stressful.
  • 500,000+ people report experiencing work-related stress at a level they believe has actually made them ill.
  • 8-billion is lost every year through work-related stress.
  • 9-million working days are lost due to stress, anxiety, and depression in one year.
  • 29 working days on average are lost per case of stress-related ill health.
Defining stress

What is stress?

Stress is a state that can occur when pressure becomes excessive.

Although stress is not an illness, it can cause mental and physical illnesses if the feeling of stress becomes excessive and prolonged.


What is the difference between stress and pressure?

Whilst pressure and stress are different, they are often used in the same context.

Pressure can sometimes create a buzz-like feeling, many individuals will see this as motivating and give them a sense of purpose having something to work towards.

However, when pressure gets too intense, this can cause many individuals to feel stressed.

Businesses responsibilities

Why is this important for businesses?

Fight or flight is triggered at a time of stress, which often leads people to act irrationally. This can lead us to becoming counter-productive, causing more issues, and more stress.

So, learning to manage your own wellbeing and stress and your employees stress is detrimental to both individual professional development, as well as business success.

For individuals, it is important to understand what makes them stressed and how they deal with it best, as well as how they might impact other peoples’ stress.

For managers, it’s also important to consider their employees stress-related concerns and how it’s best to manage and support them at work.

Your responsibilities

There is a legal requirement placed on employers to ensure that stress in the workplace is properly managed. Employers have a duty to comply with various Acts, regulations, approved codes of practise and guidance.

Not all responsibility is just on managers, employees also have a duty to ensure the health and safety of themselves, which can include taking a positive approach to managing their own stress while being able comply with their duties.

It’s also important for them to ensure the health and safety of colleagues, by recognising and being mindful that their own behaviour could also play a role in other people’s stress.

Work factors that can create stress could include:

  • Excessive work
  • Unrealistic deadlines
  • Incorrect skills for the job
  • Not enough work
  • Bullying
  • Work relationships
  • Lack of resources
  • Poor job design
  • Fear of failure
  • Workplace environment

It’s important for managers to understand that there are also a variety of personal factors that might cause employees to be stressed in work. Although it is their choice how much they feel comfortable to share with you, it is important to make employees feel supported at work and come up with a plan together to ensure employees stress within work can be reduced and that increased performance remains consistent during the long term.

For Managers:

What can Managers do to support wellbeing and minimise employee stress in the workplace?

  • Encourage a positive working culture.
  • Encourage employees take their allocated lunch breaks.
  • Guide people to external help such as an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), or a charity like Mind.
  • Encourage employees to make sure they use up their allocated annual leave.
  • Discuss with employees what their view on realistic workloads, goals, and plans at work are.
For everyone:

Strategies for individuals to minimise and manage stress:  

  • Set personal goals – give yourself a sense of purpose and something to work towards.
  • Set boundaries to maintain a balance between home and work.
  • Maintain an open dialogue with your manager about work levels and deadlines so that they can support your time management and work plans.
  • Communicate with people in person wherever possible or combine this with email as well (rather than just email on its own) – this might help to avoid possible misinterpretations or conflict, which reduces the likelihood of stressful situations.
  • Take some personal time to consider what is causing stress and what action you can take – this may help to put things in perspective.