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  • Writer's pictureMaria Mander

How Managers Can Manage Stress in the Workplace

According to latest stats in 2022/23 by HSE, there are over 1.8 million working people suffering from a work-related illness, of which 875,000 workers suffered work-related stress, depression or anxiety. HSE defines stress as ‘the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them’. Employers have a legal duty to protect employees from stress at work and must take all reasonable steps to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of their employees. Organisations need to understand the causes of stress, recognise the signs, access the risks and put measures into place to support their employees.


Causes of stress


The main cause of stress in the workplace is workload/volume of work, with employees feeling unable to cope with the demands of the job. Non work related factors such as family issues can cause stress and impact performance at work.  Management style is another factor, and poor line management can cause stress related absences, low productivity levels and ultimately people leaving the business.


Signs of stress


Managers need to look out for the signs of stress and reduce or move the causes. Signs of stress include frequent absences, coming in late for work, decline in performance, low motivation, loss of confidence, lack of interest in appearance/hygiene, increased emotional reactions and reduced social contact. Stress also reduces mental performance, impairs judgement and results in poor decision making. HSE have produced a Talking Toolkit to support Managers in identifying the causes and prevent work-related stress, including how to start a conversation with employees.


Providing support


Organisations must ensure that they provide training and resources for Managers to manage mental health, and wellbeing the workplace, and be able to spot the early signs of stress within their teams. Prevention and early intervention is key.


Wellbeing needs be on the agenda in all one-to-one meetings with open communication to identify and address any issues. Managers must develop the confidence and people skills to be able to listen to concerns, show empathy, communicate clearly and offer solutions e.g. support to manage workload, reduce pressure points, minimise workplace distractions, offer flexible hours or change of location. Identify if there are any training needs, or if additional support is required, such as job shadowing or providing a mentor. Also signposting to support e.g. Employee Assistance Programme or charities.


Developing a culture of wellness


Managers have the greatest influence on staff performance, morale and engagement within their teams.  Therefore, Managers need to promote a positive and supportive working environment.

They must lead by example to drive a culture of wellbeing and encourage employees to invest in their physical and mental wellbeing e.g. taking a break at lunchtime, promote a work/life balance and ensure staff use their full holiday allocation.  Investing in a culture of wellbeing will ensure that employees are happy, engaged and ultimately thriving at work.

If your organisation would like support in training Managers on how to manage stress, mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, contact Mander Wellbeing.

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