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Stress in the Workplace

Stress occurs when pressure upon a person becomes excessive and they feel unable to cope.  It can occur in the workplace if an employee is given work that demands more than what they are capable of. This can be due to an unrealistic deadline, a high volume of work, or the lack of skills or knowledge to be able to complete the allocated tasks.

Stress itself is a state of mind, not an illness, but it can lead to severe physical and mental illnesses, so it is important that employers look out for signs of stress in the workplace and ensure that work is well organised in order to prevent their staff from succumbing to excessive pressure.

Identifying Stress

Some of the most notable changes in behaviour as a result of stress include:

  • Changes in personality and mood swings.
  • Increased showing of emotions.
  • Loss of motivation and confidence, and increased feelings of negativity and disappointment.
  • Confusion, poor memory and lack of concentration.
  • Disputes within groups of workers.
  • Poor performance or customer dissatisfaction.
  • Increased absence due to sickness.
  • These symptoms can be spotted within both individuals and groups, and may suggest that work is badly managed and organised.

Dealing with Stress

It is highly recommended that employers assess the risk of stress in their workplace by looking at six key areas:

  • The demands put upon employees, for example their workload, work patterns and working environment.
  • The amount of control employees have over the way that they work.
  • The support available to employees, including resources and encouragement from managers, colleagues and employee.
  • The relationships between all staff, for example the way disputes are dealt with.
  • Whether each employee understands their role within the company as a whole.
  • How changes in organisation is managed and communicated to employees.

If these areas are managed correctly, employers can prevent work related stress, and have a content and productive workforce.