How to tackle work-related stress

Advice for people managers during National Stress Awareness Month

Do you know how to start a conversation about work-related stress?

Nearly 600,000 UK workers suffered from work pressures, anxiety or depression in 2017-18 according to figures released by the Government’s Health & Safety Executive.

This National Stress Awareness Month, Spire HR are encouraging people managers to learn the signs and symptoms of work-related stress and how to offer support when it’s needed.

“Many employees don’t seek help because they haven’t recognised that there is a problem, or they are worried it could adversely impact on their career,” said Ellen Parkin MCIPD, Managing Director of Spire HR.

“As a people manager, it’s important to know when an employee is struggling so you can respond appropriately, professionally and with compassion.”

Signs of work-related stress

Do you have higher staff turnover than usual? Has there been an increase in sickness absence, complaints, grievances or arguments among the team? Along with a decrease in performance, all of these could be indicators of heightened stress levels.

“At an individual level, motivation and commitment may drop off,” added Ellen. “The person may become tearful or show signs of aggression. Arriving late to work, calling in sick or appearing nervous and withdrawn can also be signs of work-related stress, but as with everything related to HR, you’ll need to talk it through to establish the cause. “How are you?” is a great place to start.”

Your duty of care as a people manager

The Health and Safety at Work Act states that employers have a legal obligation to take reasonable steps to look after their employees’ health at work.

“This means that while there is no specific ‘stress law’, you do have a duty of care to look at all aspects of your workforce’s wellbeing, which includes managing stress,” said Ellen.

“At Spire HR, we offer coaching, training and support to managers – ensuring they have all the right policies and procedures in place, as well as guidance on how to promote a wellness culture. We want you to feel empowered to talk about stress at the onset of any signs and symptoms, which will ensure the best outcome for employees; we’ll also teach you how to reduce the risk of experiencing personal stress by practising self-care when managing others.”

The impact of stress on your business

Time to Change reported that one in five people do not feel that they can talk to their manager about stress.

“The same survey also found that one in 10 people have resigned from a job due to stress and one in four have thought about it,” explained Ellen. “Added to that, 15.4 million working days were lost during 2017-18 as a direct result of stress-related sickness absence.

‘It’s clear to see that a failure to manage work-related stress effectively can have significant operational consequences; therefore, looking after the mental health of your workforce is not only the right thing to do legally and ethically, it can also benefit the overall health of your business.”

Useful Resources

To start a work-related stress conversation today, telephone Spire HR on 01925 626523 or email

You can find out more information on National Stress Awareness Month at