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Work-Related Stress - Signs, Causes and Management

By law, employers have a duty to safeguard their employees from work-related stress, here at Insight Workplace Health we've put together a guide to recognising stress in the workplace and best ways to manage it.

Causes of Work-Related Stress

There are 6 primary areas of employment which can have an impact on stress

levels and these should be effectively managed:


How much influence an employee has on how they complete their work


How much help, resources and encouragement has been provided by colleagues, line managers and the organisation as a whole


Relationships with other employees and external stakeholders and how any conflicts or disagreements are dealt with. This can also include employees who are victims of workplace bullying


How much clarity employees have over their role within the business and the avoidance of conflicting roles


Change within an organisation is normal, but how well is that change communicated to employees


This covers a number of areas including: workload, working schedule and the overall working environment

Recognising Signs of Work-Related Stress

If employees start to act unusually, this could be related to stress. Management

within organisations should be alert to the signs of stress in employees and teams,

and contemplate whether the stress may be related to pressures within the workplace.

Early intervention can help reduce the impact of the stress and reduce or eliminate

the root cause

Stress in Employees

A change in how an employee acts may be related to stress, examples of this

behaviour includes:

  • Arriving at work later than expected

  • Taking more time off work than usual

  • Behaving in a nervous or twitchy manner

  • Loss of confidence, commitment or motivation

  • Enhanced emotional responses, this can include employees acting more: aggressive, sensitive, tearful or having mood swings

  • Behaving in a more withdrawn manner

  • Overworking: Frequently working beyond normal hours, not using annual leave, or working on days off

Stress in Teams

Alongside stress in individuals, there are signs of stress within teams

to look out for:

  • Increased staff turnover

  • Increased sickness absence

  • Lower performance

  • Higher frequency of complaints

  • Tension and arguments between employees

  • Increased reports of stress

Early Intervention

At Insight we believe that prevention is better than cure, and as such offer a dial day one

service for stress related absence; evidence shows that employees who receive a call from

occupational health on the same day of absence, return to work quicker than those

called on subsequent days.

Addressing issues early can help to get to the root cause of the absence before it has

escalated and helps with a smoother and timelier return to work, whilst also demonstrating

compassion for their employee.

Specialist Mental Health Service

Following on from our dial day one service, a referral may be required with our specialist mental health service.

Our tiered service offers 5 different levels of support depending on the complexity and severity of the case.

All referrals are assessed by an experienced clinician as soon as they enter our system, to ensure the employee receives the service and is seen by the practitioner best suited to their requirements

Different Levels of Support

The service at level 1 is available to all employees, with comprehensive fact sheets, toolbox talks and online webinars available on an array of different subjects including: depression, anxiety, trauma and stress.

Level 2: typically where an employee will be referred on first episode of sickness or any queries regarding work related stress difficulties, this is handled by our general clinical team.

Level 3: This is aimed at moderately complex or persistent mental health issues (potentially 2nd or 3rd reviews) they require more specialist knowledge and as such are undertaken by our Occupational Mental Health Practitioner. A mental health risk assessment is completed, whilst wellness action plans and smart recovery goals are set.

Solution focused therapy is offered and goals are set around mental health. Where required, employees may be referred onto therapists for other interventions.

Level 4: Here we offer one to one counselling input for common mental health difficulties including: anxiety, trauma/ PTSD, bereavement, relationship difficulties. Our therapists have a range of integrated psychotherapies available to treat mental health issues. A 1+6 or 1+12 session model is typically offered, whilst reports are also provided at this stage.

Level 5: Here you are triaged to our Consultant Clinical Psychologist for the most complex of mental health cases: Our psychologist compiles an in depth psychological assessment and specialist assessments in personality, PTSD and screening for cognitive difficulties.

Our psychologist also has the ability to assess team difficulties, for example: multiple team members experiencing the same issues.

Training Courses

We offer training courses at your premises when it suits you, to fit in with your business

requirements with all of the following available surrounding the topics of stress and

mental health.

First Aid for Mental Health

One and two-day courses available at Level 2 and Level 3

The one-day course provides learners with the knowledge to identify suspected

mental health conditions, effects of drugs and alcohol and the First Aid for mental

health action plan. The two-day course goes covers the content of both the Level

1 and Level 2 qualifications but is aimed at Trainer/ Assessors and/or supervisor

level within the workplace.

Mental Health Awareness

This half-day course raises awareness of issues and conditions related to ill mental health and provides guidance on recognising the signs and removing the stigma around mental health.

E-Learning Courses

Alongside our range of in-person training courses, we also offer a range of interactive and fully accredited e-learning courses. These are incredibly easy to administer and are accessible around the clock, allowing you to pick up where you’ve left off and learn at your convenience. Popular titles which delve into stress and mental health include:

  • Depression Awareness

  • Developing A Workplace Mental Health Policy

  • Managing Occupational Health and Wellbeing

  • Mental Health Awareness

  • Mental Health First Aid

  • Stress Management

  • Supervising Mental Health at work

For more information about any of our courses (offline or online) please email or for for any more information regarding any of our services please contact us here!

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