Work Related Stress Causes

Employers have a legal duty to protect employees from stress at work by doing a risk assessment and acting on it by taking preventive measures. HSE defines stress as ‘the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them’.
Employees feel stress when they can’t cope with pressures and other issues. Employers should match demands to employees’ skills and knowledge. For example, employees can get stressed if they feel they don’t have the skills or time to meet tight deadlines. Providing planning, training and support can reduce pressure and bring stress levels down.
There are six main areas that can lead to work-related stress if they are not managed properly. These are: demands, control, support, relationships, role and change.

For example, employees may say that they:

  • Are not able to cope with the demands of their jobs;
  • Lack of work to do;
  • Fear of making mistakes and failure of meeting the expectations;
  • Are unable to control the way they do their work;
  • Don’t receive enough information and support;
  • Are having trouble with relationships at work, or are being bullied;
  • Don’t fully understand their role and responsibilities;
  • Are not engaged when a business is undergoing change.

Stress affects people differently – what stresses one person may not affect another. Factors like skills and experience, age or disability may all affect whether an employee can cope.
Stress has a variety of manifestations such as psychological (hypertension, fatigue, abrupt weight changes, headaches, excessive sweating, neck and shoulder pain, dizziness and impaired immunity), emotional (tension, anxiety, depression, self-esteem) behavioral (Insomnia, aggressiveness, passivity, conflicts and absence at work).
By talking to your employees and understanding how to identify the signs of stress, you can prevent and reduce stress in your workplace.
Your employer has a legal duty to assess the risks to your health from stress at work and share the results of any risk assessment with you. Your employer may follow HSE’s Management Standards approach, which help identify and manage the main causes of stress at work.