Managing Stress

Actions to Address the Causes of Workplace Stress

To address the common aspects of working life that can cause stress, managers should regularly do the following.


Review workloads, targets and deadlines.

This may involve:

  • Reviewing the volume of work each employee is expected to achieve in order to assess whether it is fair, reasonable and realistic
  • Consulting employees about their workloads to establish how they perceive management’s expectations of them
  • Recognising that all individuals have their limits and are different in their abilities
  • Reviewing whether the demands being made on particular individuals are within those individuals’ personal coping resources
  • Taking steps to identify and cut out any unnecessary or duplicated work.

Examine working patterns and hours.

This may involve:

  • Accepting that it is detrimental both to individuals and the organisation if employees work excessively long hours
  • Examining ways of reducing working hours to a manageable and reasonable level, by considering strategies such as imposing a maximum number of permitted hours per week on all staff, monitoring whether employees take proper breaks and holidays, reviewing and/or redistributing workloads and/or recruiting additional staff
  • Offering employees a choice, wherever possible, as to their working patterns and the number of hours they work
  • Facilitating alternative ways of working, e.g. job-sharing or home working.

Review employees’ jobs and how they are done. This should involve:

  • Providing every employee with a clearly written job description which details their responsibilities, duties, objectives and priorities
  • Giving individuals more control over their day-to-day work whenever possible
  • Finding ways of giving employees opportunities to do different or more challenging work from time to time
  • Listening to employees’ views about their work and the ways in which it is performed.

Examine whether communication is effective. This may involve:

  • Reassessing how communication takes place in the organisation, e.g. if it is all conducted by email, seek to spend more time talking to people face-to-face
  • Introducing email etiquette and guidelines to encourage staff to think about when email communication is or is not appropriate and provide examples
  • Checking (rather than assuming) that each employee properly understands how his or her job fits in with the organisation as a whole
  • Consulting staff regularly about matters that might affect them
  • Providing individuals with regular face-to-face feedback on performance, remembering that a little bit of praise can go a long way
  • Encouraging employees to raise any workplace problems they may have, including problems related to workplace stress, while making sure that everyone knows they can do so without fear of recrimination.

Provide adequate training, support and resources. This should involve:

  • Ensuring that no employee is promoted or transferred before he or she has received the necessary training for the new post
  • Consulting each employee about his or her training needs, while recognising that different people need different amounts of support
  • Making time to provide individuals with relevant training and coaching.

Examine the prevalent management style. This may involve:

  • Conducting an attitude survey to find out how employees view the organisation’s management
  • Offering management training to all those who have supervisory responsibility for staff
  • Encouraging an open, consultative management style
  • Providing coaching to any managers whose traditional style is perceived as authoritarian or dictatorial.

Implement a bullying and harassment policy and associated complaints procedure. This will involve:

  • Recognising that workplace bullying happens, rather than denying its existence
  • Recognising that bullying can take many forms
  • Making and communicating a strong management commitment to the elimination of bullying and harassment in the workplace
  • Taking all complaints of bullying or harassment seriously
  • Investigating any complaints promptly with a view to putting a stop to any behaviour that is causing offence or distress
  • Providing awareness training on harassment for all staff
  • Taking disciplinary action against any employee who is found to have bullied or harassed a colleague.

Contact us should you require further information.


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