How to effectively manage stress in the workplace

Whether it’s the demands of the job or how it is being handled in your workplace, stress is a big issue is modern workplaces. According to the health and safety executive (HSE) 428,000 people in the UK reported work-related stress to the extent that they believed it contributed to illness. That’s a whopping 40% of all work-related illness! Managing stress in your workplace effectively is essential for your workplace wellness.

What is stress?

Stress affects individuals differently. Generally, people experience stress when they are finding themselves under too much emotional or mental pressure. This creates a surge of hormones that has a physiological effect on the body.

It’s important to mention that not all stress is bad. In fact, some people can really thrive in high-pressure environments! However, when you find yourself in prolonged stressful situations, it can begin to have a detrimental effect on your physiological and psychological wellbeing and may even result in long term sickness or significantly reduced productivity.

Recognising the signs of stress

The health and safety executive have listed these as the most common symptoms of stress in individuals. Although it is not your duty to diagnose your employees, spotting the early warning signs can help you open a dialogue with your employee to see how you can help. Please note that if you are worried about a colleague or employee, it’s best to recommend that they see their GP as soon as possible.

Emotional symptoms

  • Negative or depressive feelings
  • Disappointment with yourself
  • Increased emotional reactions – more tearful or sensitive or aggressive
  • Loneliness – withdrawn
  • Loss of motivation commitment and confidence
  • Mood swings (not behavioural)


  • Confusion, indecision
  • Can’t concentrate
  • Poor memory

Changes from your normal behaviour

  • Changes in eating habits
  • Increased smoking, drinking or drug-taking ‘to cope’
  • Mood swings affecting your behaviour
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Twitchy, nervous behaviour
  • Changes in attendance such as arriving later or taking more time off.

Attitude towards stress and sickness

Your employees have no obligation to discuss this issue with you as a manager, however, if you are noticing some of the symptoms, there are some gentle reminders that you can give them that might be helpful. You could encourage them to use up all of their holiday hours, be aware of work overload and implement employee workshops on practices to help them manage stress.

It’s easy to slip into a culture of overwork, especially with all of our modern working practices. Encourage your employees to leave their work at the door and have a time cap on how long they spend answering their emails from home.

It’s important to remember that everybody gets ill from time to time and it’s better to encourage them to have a little time off than to have them working on no steam; Stress is a very complex and serious issue that can have a real knock on physiological effects and needs to be treated accordingly.

Useful resources

Office managers networking event Brighton (How to manage stress in the workplace)

Unum: simple stress at work guide

Health & Safety executive (HSE)

If you need additional advice, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We have a network of specialists that we can put you in touch with and assist with any queries you might have.          

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