What can employers do to manage stress in the workplace?

News on 18 December 2019

What can employers do to manage stress in the workplace?

Stress can be a tricky problem to manage, and stress-related absence has increased over the last year with 12.8 million working days lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety. So, how should you be managing stress?

What is stress?

Stress is the reaction that people have when they are put under excessive pressure and/or have high demands placed upon them. Stress may occur when someone feels like they have too much to do or have situations they feel they cannot control.

A certain amount of pressure in a job is normal and this can be a motivating factor, however too much pressure can have a significant impact on an employee’s health.

What are the main causes of work-related stress?

The main causes of stress are:

  • Demands - the employee is unable to cope with the demands of the job;
  • Control - the employee does not have a say about the way they do their work;
  • Support - the employee does not get support;
  • Relationships - the employee has poor relationships with colleagues and line managers;
  • Role - the employee doesn’t know what is expected of them; and
  • Change - the changes in the organisation are poorly managed.

I think my employee is stressed, what do I do now?

So, you’ve noticed that one of your employees is stressed. Lately they have been more irritable, indecisive and seem to lack concentration. This has led to lower productivity and higher absence levels.

Stress can be reduced with the right kind of understanding and support. As a manager you will need to be supportive and sympathetic through this period and help the employee reduce their stress levels. Some examples of how you can do this are:

  • Meet with the employee to discuss work plans and individual workloads, with an opportunity to discuss any problems and find solutions;
  • Help the employee prioritise tasks, cut out unnecessary work, and try to give warning of urgent or important jobs;
  • Identify any training needs – the employee may feel stressed as they may not have the necessary skills required for the job;
  • Allow the employee to have control in the way in which they do their work;
  • Ensure the employee is not subjected to any unacceptable behaviours such as bullying;
  • Ensure the employee is consulted when organisational change happens;
  • Conduct a risk assessment to help identify the reasons for stress and look to seek resolution;
  • Consider referring to an occupational health provider who may be able to suggest workplace adjustments in order to reduce stress levels; and
  • If your organisation has one, inform the employee about the Employee Assistance Helpline, as being able to talk to someone confidentially may help their stress levels.


Tackling stress at work has positive effects for the Company. Employees will feel happier, absence levels will improve, resulting in better performance. Sign up to PitStopHR to find out what processes you can put in place to manage work-related stress.