How To Reduce Stress In The Workplace

How To Reduce Stress In The Workplace


Health and wellbeing


In 2011/2012 stress was attributed to 40% of all work related illness. This stress is defined as “a harmful reaction that people have to undue pressures and demands placed on them at work”. Being able to reduce stress and to recognise stressed employees is critical to ensuring the wellbeing of your workforce and maintaining a happy and productive business.

Work Related Stress Statistics

Below are some statistics from a report published by Health And Safety Executive.

  • The prevalence of stress in 2011/12 was 428 000 cases (40%) out of a total of 1 073 000 cases for all work-related illnesses.
  • Work-related stress caused workers in Great Britain to lose 10.4 million working days in 2011/12 based on the LFS data.
  • The industries that reported the highest rates of total cases of work-related stress (three-year average) were human health and social work, education and public administration and defence.
  • The occupations that reported the highest prevalence rates of work-related stress (three-year average) were health professionals (in particular nurses), teaching and educational professionals and caring personal services (in particular welfare and housing association professionals).
  • The main work activities attributed by respondents as causing their work-related stress, or making it worse, were work pressure, lack of managerial support and work related violence and bullying.
  • Human health and social work activities with 2 090 cases per 100 000 people working in the last 12 months, education with 1 780 cases per 100 000 people, and public administration and defence with 1 810 cases per 100 000 people working in the last 12 months.
  • Stress related illness cost the UK approx £1,360,000,000 last year.

The occupations with the highest estimated prevalence rate of work-related stress in GB, averaged over the last three years (2009/10 – 2011/12) were as follows;

  1. Nurses with 2 730 cases per 100 000 people working in the last 12 months
  2. Teaching and education professionals with 2 340 cases per 100 000 people
  3. Welfare and housing association professionals with 2 290 per 100 000 people.

As you can see form the above statistics, stress related illness has a huge effect on your business, and the UK economy as a whole.  In order to reduce stress in the workplace there are a number of actions that can be made, both by the individual and by the business:

How Can An Individual Reduce Stress

  • Regular exercise – this has been proven to reduce stress.  Taking exercise, whether this is taking part in sports regularly or simply going for a walk in the evening.
  • Don’t over commit at work – if you are being assigned too much work, or not being given enough time to complete your work, speak to your manager and explain.
  • Eat sensibly – eating the right foods can have a positive effect on your mood.  Foods such as fish, fruits and certain nuts have stress relieving qualities.
  • Get enough sleep – have a good night’s sleep, and be ready for work in the morning.
  • Prioritise – plan your work according to deadlines and importance, this way you should be able to avoid last minute rushes.
  • Communicate – speaking to your colleagues and managers will enable you to delegate work and ask advice.
  • Take a break – schedule 5 minute breaks throughout the day. Stepping away from your desk for just a few minutes can work wonders.
  • Be realistic – if you are unable to complete a task, ask for assistance or realign your priorities.

How Can A Business Reduce Stress Within the Workforce

  • Support – open door policies, enabling your employees to speak openly and honestly will build trust.  If an employee needs to speak to their manager, trust will be less of a barrier.
  • Environment – creating a nicer environment at work can be as simple as placing some house plants around the office, trying to be more positive in front of your employees or sharing company success stories.
  • Workload – ensure that employees are not overloaded with work.
  • Socialise – Social clubs and events will enable staff to socialise and communicate more freely, both in and out of the office.
  • Eyes open – knowing the signs of a stressed individual can enable you to talk to the employee, advise them, and in certain instances resolve their problem.

Symptoms Of Work Related Stress

As mentioned previously, knowing, and spotting, the signs of stress in the office is crucial to your employees wellbeing and potentially reducing the need for absence. Some of the symptoms common to stress are:

  • Feeling anxious, irritable, or depressed
  • Apathy, loss of interest in work
  • Problems sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Muscle tension or headaches
  • Stomach problems
  • Social withdrawal
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Using alcohol or drugs to cope