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April 26, 2022

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Stress in the workplace

Stress in the workplace: A CIPD guide

Stress is a major cause of long-term absence from work and knowing how to manage the factors that can cause work-related stress is key to managing people effectively. Employers should take a systematic approach to identifying the risks of stress, for example by conducting stress risk assessments. 

stressCIPD has published a factsheet which defines stress and draws the distinction between stress and pressure. It offers information on UK employers’ duties under health and safety law and concludes with guidance on how to deal with stress at work, providing information on prevention, early intervention and stress policies.

According to the CIPD, stress continues to be one of the main causes of short and long-term absence. Overall, nearly four-fifths (79%) of respondents report some stress-related absence in their organisation over the last year, and this figure rises to 90% of large organisations (with more than 250 employees). Positively, more employers are recognising stress as an issue, and taking steps to tackle stress within their organisations. However, just over half (52%) of respondents in organisations that are taking steps to tackle stress believe that their organisation is effective at managing work-related stress.

Employee assistance programmes, flexible working options/improved work-life balance and staff surveys or focus groups to identify causes remain the most common methods used to identify and reduce stress.  

Recent CIPD research suggests the main causes of employee stress include:

  • Workloads/volume of work
  • Non-work factors – relationship or family issues
  • Management style
  • Non-work factors – personal illness or health issue
  • COVID-related anxiety, for example fear of contagion in the workplace/commute
  • New work-related demands or challenges due to homeworking as a result of COVID-19
  • Poor work-life balance due to homeworking as a result of COVID-19. 

This factsheet goes on to address: 

  • Stress in the time of Coronavirus  
  • Signs of stress 
  • The UK legal position
  • Dealing with stress at work. 

Click here to view this Stress in the workplace factsheet, in full.

Work-related stress podcast

In this episode of the Safety & Health Podcast, we hear from Peter Kelly, Senior Psychologist for the Health and Safety Executive about work-related stress…

What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.


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