How To

Help Manage Stress In The Workplace


Stress usually comes when pressure seems unremitting and an individual feels unable to deal with it, leading to extreme worry and feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.

This can have an adverse effect within the workplace on both your employee, the team around them and the wider business if left unmanaged.

It’s not possible, nor indeed desirable, to ‘stress-proof’ your workplace, however there are a number of things that you can do as a boss to reduce the likelihood of unnecessary stress occurring:

  • Prioritise work and try to ensure unnecessary tasks are eliminated
  • Ensure your team are adequately trained to do the work expected of them and regularly review their training needs
  • Wherever possible, give people control over the work they do and encourage them to take responsibility for how they do the work
  • Try to ensure people have some variety in the work they do
  • Be aware of any signs of conflict within the team and be ready to intervene to resolve any issues
  • Look out for signs of bullying behaviour and be ready to deal with it directly
  • Communicate regularly and clearly so that everyone is clear about what is happening at work
  • Make sure each individual in the team works to clear, agreed objectives, reviewing these periodically to ensure they remain up to date
  • Provide regular, constructive feedback – not just at appraisal time but on a more frequent basis
  • Encourage a healthy work-life balance – ensure that your people take their annual leave and discourage your team from regularly taking work home in the evenings or at weekends.

10 top tips for managing stress at work

Stress in the workplace can have devastating effects on mental health and productivity. Here’s how to manage it:

  1. Start by doing some very basic wellness checks – do you need to increase your exercise, improve your diet, or get more sleep? Fairly simple changes in these three areas can improve your outlook and ability to cope with stressful situations at work.
  2. Challenge your thinking – do you find yourself taking a negative perspective on work issues, could there be a more balanced view? Take some time to focus on the positive – what are your strengths and what have you achieved?
  3. Make sure you give yourself some time to relax.  This is especially important at times of big change, such as starting a new job or taking on a new role and/or added responsibilities.
  4. Think about what you have the power to change in your current circumstances and prioritise these things, rather than worrying about areas you can’t control.
  5. Make lists and plan workloads – by ticking jobs off your list you’ll start to feel a bit more in control.
  6. Duvet days don’t pay — Don’t just avoid work, chances are your workload will increase while you’re off and add to your troubles.
  7. Identify the real problem. It is important to think about what‘s making you want to phone in sick. Are you afraid of failing? Sometimes we’re our own worst critics.  Think about what you’d say to a friend or a colleague in the same situation. Would you be as hard on them as you are on yourself?
  8. Look at some of the great resources that can help you build resilience. There are many useful books and websites that offer tools for coping with stress.
  9. Don’t ignore the people who care most about you — Call on friends and family members that you have around you – asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength.
  10. Most importantly, if you’re having trouble at work, don’t bottle things up. It’s helpful to share your concerns, so speak to your manager or a supportive colleague.

Dr Mark Winwood is Director of Psychological Services for AXA PPP healthcare.

For more information on stress and wellbeing in the workplace, visit:

Mark Winwood
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