Reducing workplace stress

Chris Wagstaff
blog-publish-date 01 September 2023

Reducing work-related stress is difficult to achieve, as not everyone experiences stress in the same way, and not everyone has the same triggers.

Whether your employees are dealing with chronic stress or tackling stressful situations at work, as an employer you have a duty of care towards the wellbeing of your employees. But how do you manage stress in the workplace?

We've put together some of the causes and symptoms of stress, including how you can help support your employees.

If you need immediate advice or support on managing stress in your workplace, get in touch with one of our health and safety experts on 0800 470 2871.

someone suffering with chronic stress about job security and it is affecting their physical health.

What can cause workplace stress?

As with any type of stress, workplace stress can be caused by a multitude of reasons. Some of the most common causes can include:

Stress from an employee's personal life

Often an employee’s personal life can impact their demeanor and performance in the workplace.. This is particularly true in instances where your employees are experiencing a significant life change, for example, if they are looking after an ill relative, moving house, or having a child (this isn't an exhaustive list).

Workplace conditions

This could be anything from an employee’s workstation, the cleanliness of your work premises or even things like seating arrangements.t can also include their co-workers and how they are treated. Particularly if they aren't managed well.

Low levels of trust in the workplace

If your employees feel like you don't trust them it can cause them to feel stressed. There is a good chance they won't feel comfortable coming to you if they have any issues.

Lack of training

If your employees feel like they have a lack of training it can cause them stress. Ensure that your employees are fully trained for their job roles and that their training is kept up-to-date.

You could also consider enrolling your team on additional training courses to help them.

Changes within the organisation

Change can often cause employee stress in one way or another, whether that be in their physical, mental, or their emotional health. This type of stress can be completely avoided if you are communicating effectively with your employees. Explain clearly what it is that is changing, and help clear up any confusion they may have. This will also give your employees a chance to ask any questions and raise any concerns

Bullying or conflict in the workplace

If your employees are uncomfortable or feel that they are being bullied at work it can cause them huge (and often unnecessary) stress and pressure. Strong anti-bullying policies and disciplinary action against anyone who bullies staff can help mitigate this.

an employee feel overwhelmed with long term stress from their working life.

What are the signs of workplace stress?

As an employer or as someone managing staff, stress can be difficult to spot. As good practice, you should keep an eye out for your employees displaying symptoms of stress. If you do spot these signs, you should offer your employees additional support. This could be via an informal chat, regular communication, or through an employee assistance programme (EAP). If you notice signs of stress you should also create a stress risk assessment

Some of the following are considered to be symptoms of stress.

  • A lack of concentration.
  • Trouble making decisions.
  • Tired or exhausted.
  • Avoids any or all social events.
  • Short tempered or easily irritated.
  • Low moods.

It's important to remember that your employees don't need to exhibit all of these symptoms to be considered stressed. In some cases, your employee might not exhibit any. In these cases you should ensure that you're communicating regularly with your employees.

As an employer, you might want to consider why your employees are feeling stressed. Speak to them to discover what the root cause is, and then speak with their manager to see what can be done to help and offer more support to your employees.

How can I help my employees experiencing work-related stress?

There are many ways that you can help and support your employees. We've already mentioned a couple of them, but we're going to go into a little more detail.

Talk to your employees

Ultimately if you talk regularly with your employees you'll be able to spot quickly if they are starting to experience negative effects of stress at work.

Regularly communicating with your employees will encourage trust to build between you. This trust will help your employees feel comfortable about coming to you if they have an issue or are starting to become overwhelmed with work.

If you're unsure about how you can go about speaking to your employees regularly you can start by setting up one-to-ones. These are private chats where you can talk about your employee's work life and ask how they are feeling in general.

Manage workloads

Check your employee's workload If they've got a lot on their plates they might start to feel stressed.. You should ensure that your employees have realistic deadlines for their work. This will help to elevate some of the stress they are feeling, particularly if their stress is caused by their workload.

It can also improve your workplace's productivity because your team is comfortable with their workloads and feel more motivated.

someone showing physical symptoms of stress including muscle tension and high blood pressure.

Check on your employee's wellbeing.

Your employee wellbeing should be at the top of your priority list. Ensuring your employee's wellbeing is looked after can help to cultivate a positive work environment and create an engaged workforce.

There are tools that you can utilise to your employee's wellbeing, such as an employee assistance program (EAP). These can offer your employees additional support such as counselling to help them tackle their stress or help work on their individual mental health.

You could also offer your employees flexible working, this will help them create a better work-life balance and allow them to take some control of their working hours.

Ensure that goals are achievable

Setting your team's goals that are achievable will help reduce their stress as they will know what goals and targets they need to reach within a set time frame. You should also consider ensuring that your teams have a proper brief for their tasks. This will help to avoid confusion and encourage your employees to speak up if you've given them a task that isn't clear.

You could also ask your employees if they feel they need more training in particular areas, whether that be an area of the business or in using a specific piece of software or equipment.

Carry out a stress risk assessment

Carrying out a stress risk assessment is a brilliant way to try and reduce stress in the workplace. This will help you pinpoint the potential causes of stress, and help outline the measures you're putting into place to fix them. Once you've put the stress risk assessment in place, you will hopefully see fewer cases of your team becoming stressed.

Not only will the risk assessment help you with your health and safety obligations, but it can be a starting point for helping cultivate a more productive and happier workplace.

an employee that feel overwhelmed and is using a coping techniques prevent stress while everyone hands them work.

Download our Stress infographic here

Download our stress infographic, covering what signs you should be looking out for and what you can do to help your employees.

Speak to an expert

Croner has a team of award-winning health and safety consultants who are specialists in their field. We've been helping businesses for over 80 years and our advice line is open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. Why not speak to a Croner expert on 0800 470 2871.


About the Author

Chris is the Director of Health and Safety at Croner. Chris is also CMIOSH accredited, an IOSH Mentor and HSE People Champion and has over 20 years working in Health & Safety.