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At some stage, everyone will experience a form of stress in the workplace, whether that is specifically work-related or the impact from personal factors outside of work. Stress can manifest in many ways, from minor stresses to huge stressors that can have a significant impact on day-to-day life.
“Stress can be defined as a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation. Stress is a natural human response that prompts us to address challenges and threats in our lives. Everyone experiences stress to some degree.” – World Health Organization.
Many of us spend a large proportion of our time in work, so it’s unsurprising that a great number of people will experience stress at work. According to the American Institute of Stress, 80% of workers feel stress on the job and nearly half say they need help to learn how to manage stress.
Various factors in the workplace can be linked to stress, we’ll explore potential work-related stress factors in a little more detail and offer practical advice to manage stress effectively or support others experiencing stress.
In the 2022 Global Workplace Report by Gallup, 44% of employees across the world stated they experience workplace stress on a daily basis. Not only do work situations impact individuals, but personal life events and experiences may also result in stress that filters into the workplace. Stress can also lead to increased absenteeism with around 1 million workers in the US missing work each day due to stress – The American Institute of Stress.
It’s important to recognise the signs yourself if you’re experiencing stress but it’s also important for colleagues, especially managers to be aware of common signs of stress too.
If stress isn’t managed effectively, it can lead to physical burnout. The World Health Organisation defines burnout as a person experiencing feelings of exhaustion or energy depletion, reduced professional efficiency, and increased mental distance from the job and negative feelings around the job. Mental Health America conducted research on workplace stress and highlighted that 76% of people who took part in the survey felt that workplace stress affects their mental health and have experienced burnout as a result.
While individuals can find effective ways to cope and manage stress in the workplace, it’s important for employers to be aware of potential signs of stress, and support employees in managing stress.
Facilitating a supportive and approachable work environment will encourage employees to feel comfortable to approach managers to get the support they need when dealing with work-related stress.
Managers and team members can be aware of signs of stress to look out for such as changes in work performance, emotional behaviour, signs of withdrawal such as lateness and reduced social interaction plus other signs which are highlighted in this factsheet by CIPD.
Throughout the year there are days and significant dates which focus on building awareness of stress in the workplace and effective ways to manage workplace stress. While these days are positive and a great way to recognise common stresses at work and encourage ways to support, workplace stress happens all year round.
Below we have highlighted some useful resources for those seeking ways to manage workplace stress, managers keen to establish more effective ways to support teams and for those keen to increase their awareness and recognise the signs of stress.