Stress in the Workplace

 Work related stress has been described as the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressure or other types of demand placed on them, (Health and Safety Executive,). While pressure is a normal part of most work, and in moderation, can help a person to be motivated, difficulties tend to arise if the pressure becomes excessive, and an individual begins to feel out of control. However, stress in the workplace is not just related to workload and pressure.

The Health and Safety Executive has produced a set of management standards which identifies 6 key areas which research shows are important in affecting employees’ levels of stress. These include:

  • The demands placed upon employees in terms of workload, work patterns and the work environment
  • The control people have over how they do their work
  • The support people have to enable them to do their job from the institution, line management and colleagues
  • The quality of relationships at work
  • The work role, its clarity in terms of responsibilities etc
  • Change in the workplace and how this is managed and communicated within the institution

What you can do if you are experiencing work-based stress

The Stress at Work Questionnaire is for staff to complete to check whether there are any issues in relation to their work which could be sources of stress. The questions act as a checklist for staff and can be used as a starting point for people to analyse possible sources of stress. The completed questionnaires should be sent to managers and, where there are areas of concern, discussed with them as soon as possible. These questionnaires will inform the risk assessments which employers are now legally required to undertake.

However, staff may feel that they would like to talk to someone other than their manager. In this case, you can contact a member of staff from Human Resources or the Safety Office who will be able to discuss the options open to you.

Where you feel that the effects of stress are having an impact on your confidence or general well being, you may wish to consult the Employee Assistance Programme.

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