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Everyone gets stressed sometimes. And there are a range of reasons why it happens. It often isn’t caused by one thing: it can be a build up from a variety of issues. Do you think that someone who works for you is suffering from stress? It’s important to be able to spot the symptoms and, if you can, offer help with the solution.


Work out what the cause of stress is

Whether stress is caused by work or its source is outside work, the symptoms can be the same. That’s why it’s important to investigate when you think someone is under stress. Some problem solving can help you to work together and identify what’s causing the anxiety.

As an employer it’s important to monitor your staff and be confident that they are not suffering from workplace stress. That means that you need to investigate further if they start showing signs of stress in the workplace. Whether or not work is the cause, you can then help them deal with the stress with some simple solutions.


Spotting the physical signs of stress

Identifying the physical symptoms of stress is particularly important if they pose a health and safety risk to either your employees or your workplace. Employees have a responsibility to report anything that could pose a threat to their health and safety – including stress.

Stress can manifest itself in a variety of forms, but these are some of the most common:

  • Finding it hard to concentrate
  • Struggling to take pleasure from things that usually cause pleasure
  • Having difficulty sleeping or eating
  • Struggling to switch off and relax.


Is it work-related stress?

Once you recognise the symptoms of stress in your employee it’s important to sit down and explore with them where the root cause lies. It’s worth taking a look at their work environment before you have this chat.

It’s often not easy to admit that you’re struggling to cope. As an employer you may be able to identify some aspects of the working environment that could be causing a strain. These could include a big workload, job performance, or the types of task an employee is being asked to do.


Be proactive and take supportive action

You probably already know the range of options you have available to help an employee deal with stress. Whether the stress is work related or not, it’s a good idea to talk your employee through some options and explore what they need to get them back on an even keel.


Coping strategies that are worth sharing

As well as removing the direct source of stress, there are a range of coping strategies that can help people to deal with day to day stress. Sometimes coping with stress is less about being able to remove the cause and more about developing the right attitude to the things that can cause aggravation.

Here are some suggestions for coping strategies that you could explore:


Taking regular breaks.

High workloads, being under pressure to deliver to deadlines or struggling to mix with work colleagues can stop employees taking their work breaks. Work breaks are an important way of giving the mind and body a rest and allowing a re-set before returning to the task in hand.


Act rather than react.

It’s easy to internalise everything under stress and this can aggravate the problem. Learning to act rather than react can reduce the emotional response and make it easier to deal with situations as they arise.


Take a deep breath.

It’s well acknowledged that meditation or breathing deeply can help your body to pause. Why not refer your employees to Quietkit and suggest they add meditation into their day. It provides a recognised technique for calming the mind and controlling your emotional response to situations.


Minimise interruptions.

If an employee is stressed about getting work done, giving them the physical and emotional space they need to achieve a result can be very beneficial.


Eat and sleep well.

A fuelled body and a rested mind can allow your employees to prepare themselves for the things that cause stress. This is an effective way to avoid being overwhelmed by them.


Keep physically fit.

Encouraging your staff to exercise can be an excellent proactive way of fighting off stress and giving them the tools they need to deal with high pressure situations.


If you spot that a colleague or employee is showing signs of stress: don’t ignore it. Stress can be harmful in the workplace and could affect the safety of the people around you. Try to help the person affected to identify the cause of stress and support them with some smart strategies that will help them cope.


Every employer has a toolkit available to them to help them deal with stress in the workforce. For further support take a look at these websites that have helpful information on workplace stress.


Worksafe New Zealand

Employment New Zealand