Last updated: 17.12.18

How can stress negatively affect staff at work?

How can stress negatively affect staff at work?

Nobody wants to work in a stressful environment - not you as a manager and certainly not your employees - so it’s vital that effective training and a development strategy are in place to combat how stress is dealt with in the workplace. This will lead to better mental health for your staff and a more productive workplace for all.

Pressure can turn into stress which can lead to problems

There are differing levels of pressure individuals face at work, but what starts out as a little bit of mounting pressure can soon become a very real problem if not dealt with correctly. It can affect people in their personal lives, but also at work, affecting how they carry out their roles, as well as changing the way they feel about their job. Certain levels of pressure are guaranteed however ensuring staff is capable to deal with the job should be highlighted through an effective recruitment strategy.

Motivation and productivity

Unreasonable expectations about what an employee can achieve can make tasks feel unachievable. This in turn has a huge impact on motivation, individuals who can’t get tasks done start to feel less able to do their job properly leading to a general decline in willingness to do their work properly. Setting out clear goals and plans with employees regularly can help avoid such situations and increase motivation.

Absenteeism, presenteeism and staff turnover

If stress and mental health issues are not tackled in the early stages of the cycle, then they can lead to bigger issues. Staff who feel under too much pressure may take time off work or come to work even when they are not up to the job. They may suffer ill health as a result and may even leave the company altogether.

Staff who are either not at work, who are there, but are not being productive, or leave the company are all missed opportunities for a business. Tackling stress and ensuring that everyone is able to fulfil their roles in a supportive environment is the best way to maintain your most important asset, as without good employees a business cannot succeed.

Lack of communication can see stress going unnoticed

The first step towards reducing stress in the workplace is to ensure that employees know you’re open to talking about it. When a person is stressed they often have associated emotions that mean they try and cover it up, making them more stressed in the long run.

Creating a climate of communication and understanding will mean they can talk freely about their problems. They may want to discuss it with you as a manager, but might also decide that talking to another member of staff at the same level as them is their preferred option. Either way, everyone should be willing to listen and help lessen the burden.

Discussions about mental health can be hard for many

People can often feel self-conscious talking about their mental health, so reassure them that it is the day-to-day stresses of the workplace that are being discussed and not personal health issues. It is your job as a manager to ensure such communications stay on track and as you’re not an expert in mental health, you’ll want to stick to the area where you can have an impact - work.

Companies that don’t put mental health at the heart of their policies and processes will find employees suffer

When new policies are drafted or old ones updated it is vital that the company’s commitment to mental health is evident. This will show that it’s more than just talk and reducing stress is a guiding principle of the organisation. They should cover all areas of employment, from recruiting and hiring to performance management and termination. Training staff about their own mental health awareness is a great place to start, whilst helping managers to develop their skills around how to help employees with mental health issues ensures both managers and staff are equipped.   

Failing to involve staff in organisational areas can make them feel disenfranchised

It’s important that staff feel as if they have some form of control over things, especially when it comes to stress and mental health. This can be in the form of training, involvement in the development of policies and workplace discussions.

For more information on how to deal with mental health in the workplace and a consultation on training to implement a robust strategy, email us at

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