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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Scherle

How to Support Your Stressed Employees

From our March Newsletter

By Stephanie Scherle

How to Support Your Stressed Employees

Source: Korn Ferry, Open Access Government

In a recent survey of nearly 20,000 professionals conducted by Korn Ferry, two-thirds of professionals reported feeling more stressed at work than they did five years ago. Indeed, employee stress levels have risen by nearly 20% in the last three decades.

Most of us are aware and research has clearly shown that stress at work has negative consequences for employees, including a range of physical and mental health concerns. This of course also impacts organisational wellbeing, as stressed employees do not have the space to perform at their best and are more likely to take days off and quit.

Therefore, it is no surprise that employee mental ill health and stress cost British organisations around £26bn per annum. Considering this, it is not only a moral obligation for organisations to look out for their employees' mental health - it is also necessary for businesses' bottom line.

But what should you look out for to assess how stressed your employees are? And what are some factors that you can consider when thinking about improving employee mental health?

What Is Work Stress?

Source: CIPD, HSE

The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines work stress as "the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them at work". While a certain level of pressure, or challenge, is necessary for employees to perform at their best, pressures can grow into stress when employees feel like they do not have the necessary resources to handle them.

Signs That Your Employees Might Be Experiencing Stress

Source: CIPD

Work Performance

  • Their performance is declining or inconsistent

  • They make uncharacteristic errors

  • They seem less motivated and committed

  • They seem to be forgetful

  • They spend long hours in the office frequently

  • They do not use their days off

Conflict and Emotional Signs

  • They cry at work

  • They get into arguments

  • They seem more sensitive, irritable and moody than usual

  • They seem to overreact to problems


  • They arrive late at work

  • They leave work early

  • They interact less with others at work

Aggressive Behaviour

  • They gossip

  • They criticise others

  • They bully or harass others

  • They have emotional outbursts

Other Behaviours

  • They have a hard time relaxing

  • They consume more alcohol at work events

  • They take more frequent smoking breaks

  • They seem less interested in their appearance or hygiene

  • They have accidents at work

Physical Signs

  • They have a nervous stumbling speech

  • They sweat excessively

  • They seem tired/lethargic

  • They report having headaches frequently

How Do You Identify Causes of Work Stress?

Source: CIPD, HSE

The HSE lists six main areas that you can consider when identifying the causes of work stress.


Example: the workload an employee is facing


Example: how much employees are able to decide how they do tasks


Example: the level of supervision and feedback


Example: the level of conflict in interactions with coworkers


Example: understanding how the employee's job fits with the goals of the organisation


Example: How change is managed and communicated

How Can You Address Stress At Work?

Source: CIPD, HSE

  • Employee assistance programmes, counselling services

  • Flexible working

  • Staff surveys and focus groups to identify employee needs

  • Risk assessments and stress audits

  • Training managers to manage their stress and the stress of employees

  • Resilience-building sessions

  • Written policies on stress and mental health

  • Positive working culture encouraging open conversations about mental health


Would you like to support your workforce with their stress?

Resilient Workforce specialises in improving employee mental health and resilience and uses an evidence-based approach to improve your employees' wellbeing.

We can help you in a number of ways depending on your organisational needs, size, budget and timeline.

Contact us at


CIPD (2019). Stress in the Workplace [Factsheet].

HSE (n. d.). Working Together to Reduce Stress at Work [Factsheet].

Parke, C. (2019, August 13). Once Burned Out, Twice Shy: The Unaffordable Cost of Work-Related Stress. Open Access Government.,%C2%A39%20billion%20a%20year.

Workplace Stress Continues to Mount (n. d.). Korn Ferry.

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