What is Stress?
Stress is the feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure. Some pressure is essential to everyday living but too much pressure on a person’s coping ability can lead to psychological difficulties including stress or, if prolonged, mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression. Stress is the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demands placed upon them.
Signs of Stress
The following can often be indicators that an individual may be suffering with stress:
- Change to behaviours and attitude to work
- Change to relationships with colleagues/home life
- Poor concentration
- Timekeeping: coming in later or leaving earlier than usual
- Being distant
- Self-medication, e.g. drinking an increased amount of alcohol
- Decrease in productivity
- Sickness absence – Headaches, stomach complaints, neck and back problems
- Increased sickness absences
- Withdrawing from the social aspects of work
- Missing deadlines
- Difficulty making decisions
- Becoming argumentative with colleagues
- Emotional outbursts/mood swings
- Lack of motivation and commitment
Signs of stress in teams may become apparent, particularly before or during:
- significant changes in workloads
- prolonged periods of emotionally demanding work
- changes to roles/responsibilities
- changes to reporting lines
- the introduction of new work arrangements
- disciplinary or capability procedures
If you have experienced any of the above or feel that you might be suffering with stress or simply that too much pressure is being placed upon you, please talk to your manager. We have developed an Individual Stress Assessment (see further information below), which can be completed to help you to identify particular stressors. We recommend that you complete this assessment with your manager.
Our Managing Stress in the Workplace workshops can help you to identify the signs that stress is becoming an issue.
Managing stress is an important consideration for both management and leadership. It can often involve having difficult discussions with staff but management intervention, particularly early intervention rather than inaction, can be the key to preventing sickness absences and facilitating a successful return to work.
We recommend that you are proactive in managing stress both within teams and with individuals and not wait until a staff member is off sick or a team’s performance has deteriorated.
It is understandable that you may feel that, as these are not work-related, they are outside of your responsibility. The counterargument is that if a member of staff is affected by what is going on in their personal life to the point that it is beginning to impact on workplace performance or attendance, then it is beneficial to both you and your team member that you intervene and offer support where possible.
Often this will involve signposting towards external agencies that may include organisations such as MIND Cymru, Money Advice Service, Citizens Advice Bureau, Cruise Cymru, drug and alcohol support services or Age UK.
When to Discuss Stress
It can be difficult to know when it is the best time to raise concerns with teams or individuals. Try to use your knowledge of how your team functions and the culture within your team as an indicator. Typically these opportunities will be at team meetings, focus groups, away days, during appraisals or during more informal/ad hoc discussions.
How to Manage Stress
Many managers find it difficult to manage stress, often because there are many different signs and possible causes. The Health and Safety Executive have developed a Stress Analysis Tool that can help you to identify the stressors that may be contributing to stress within your team. Please contact Eddie Cummings - 01267 246180 for advice about using the tool.
Occupational Health can also assist by having our Wellbeing Support Practitioners undertake group wellbeing support sessions, drop in sessions, education and advice. Contact the Occupational Health Centre on 01267 246060 for further information and/or to arrange.
We have developed an Individual Stress Assessment that individuals can complete to help identify particular stressors. We recommend that managers and employees complete the assessment together. Please see further information about this tool below.
The Individual Stress Assessment (ISA)
The Individual Stress Assessment is a management tool used to recognise stress triggers and help support employees in the workplace.
This is a proactive tool that could be used as:
- Part of supervision
- Part of appraisal sessions
- Part of 1-2-1 meetings
Other times where this can be utilised are:
- where there is cause for concern (e.g. sickness absence, or where there is noticeable signs of stress being displayed)
- during return to work interview and/or employee support meetings
- when there is significant change within the department/area of work/team
The stress assessment covers 6 key areas based on the Health & Safety Executive’s Management Standards for work-related stress which are identified as important in order to create a good working environment for all employees. These 6 areas are outlined below:
Page updated: 07/07/2020 12:16:26