Managing stress at work

Pressure can be good for us - positive pressure can make us energised and alert. But overwhelming or negative stress can make us feel out of control, nervous and anxious.

That’s when problems begin.  Stress is not an illness, but biological responses to stress can cause both physical and mental stress-related illnesses.

Those working in nursing, teaching, caring and social work are particularly vulnerable to stress but other research shows work-related stress can occur in any industry or sector. Work pressure, lack of managerial support and violence or bullying can cause stress or make it worse.

What is being done to prevent stress in the workplace?

The HSE has produced an action plan for workplaces where work pressure is an issue and has also introduced work-related stress management standards as a way of assessing the risk of stress within an organisation.

These standards include:

  • Demands – including workload, work patterns and the work environment
  • Control – how much say individuals have in the way they do their work
  • Support – encouragement, sponsorship and resources provided by an organisation, line management and colleagues
  • Relationships – promoting positive working to avoid conflict and dealing with unacceptable behaviour
  • Role – whether people understand their role and whether an organisation ensures they do not have conflicting roles
  • Change – how organisational change (large or small) is managed and communicated.

 

Are there any other factors?

As well as these factors, other stressors, or things that can increase stress in the workplace, include the long-hours culture. This can result in more absence from home which can then add to domestic pressures.

The work-life balance is a vital factor in workplace-related stress and the Randstad Award 2015 survey in the UK found that 49% of UK employees are not happy with their current work schedule. It was also found that a third of the UK population work more than 40 hours per week.

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