Here's the most important facts & figures from the HSE and CIPD.  These are the main reasons why you need to start taking action today.

Actively caring for your people isn't just morally & ethically right, it's your legal obligation - AND makes great business sense too!!


What's your legal position?  ( ©HSE)

The law requires employers to tackle stress.  Employers have duties:

 • Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999: - To assess the risk of stress-related ill health arising from work activities.

 • Under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974: - To take measures to control that risk.

There are other Health & Safety regulations that oblige you to minimise work-place stress as well, so you can't afford to allow your people to be stressed.

HSE expects organisations to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment for stress, and to take action to tackle any problems identified by that risk assessment. The HSE have issued Management Standards, which are intended to help and encourage you to do this and to show that you have done so.

Need a Stress Risk Assessment?  Or an independant Stress Audit?  Let me help.


It also makes GREAT business sense!  (© HSE)

Tackling stress brings BIG business benefits. Research has shown work-related stress to have adverse effects for organisations in terms of: 

• Employee commitment to work

• Staff performance and productivity

• Staff turnover and intention to leave

• Attendance levels

• Staff recruitment and retention

• Customer satisfaction

• Organisational image and reputation

• Potential litigation

It is also worth thinking about the impact that work-related stress in one person could have on the rest of the unit or team. For example, losing one colleague for an extended period with a stress-related illness can have a dramatic impact on the workload and morale of the rest of the team. By taking action to tackle the causes of stress in your workplace, you can prevent or reduce the impact of these problems on your organisation.


Stress affects your employee's health too! (© HSE)

Tackling stress prevents ill health There is now convincing evidence that prolonged periods of stress, including work-related stress, have an adverse effect on health. Research provides strong links between stress and:

• physical effects such as heart disease, back pain, headaches, gastrointestinal disturbances or various minor illnesses; and

• psychological effects such as anxiety and depression

Stress can also lead to other behaviours that are harmful to health, such as skipping meals, drinking too much caffeine or alcohol, or smoking. Tackling the causes of stress before they lead to ill health can prevent this from happening.


What's the definition of work-related stress? (© HSE)

The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines work-related stress as: ‘The adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them at work’. People can become stressed when they feel they don’t have the resources they need (whether physical, financial or emotional) to cope with these demands.

It’s well recognised that excessive or sustained work pressure can lead to stress. Occupational stress poses a risk to businesses and can result in higher sickness absence, lower staff engagement and reduced productivity. According to the HSE, 17.9 million working days were lost to stress, anxiety or depression in 2019/20.


What's the difference between pressure & stress?  (© CIPD)

There is sometimes confusion between the terms 'pressure' and 'stress'. It’s healthy and essential that people experience challenges within their lives that cause levels of pressure, for example the need to make decisions quickly when faced with a dangerous situation. And up to a certain point, an increase in pressure can improve performance, such as feeling motivated to meet a deadline.

However, if pressure becomes excessive, and/or continues for an extended period of time, it can become harmful to health. It’s also important to remember that every individual is different, as is their experience of pressure.  When that pressure tips into stress, the individual effects will vary from person to person.

Our 2021 Health and wellbeing at work survey shows the main causes of employee stress include:

  • Workloads/volume of work.
  • Management style.
  • New work-related demands or challenges due to homeworking as a result of COVID19.
  • Non-work factors - relationship or family issues.
  • COVID-related anxiety, for example fear of contagion in the workplace/commute.
  • Non-work factors – personal illness or health issues.
  • Poor work-life balance due to homeworking as a result of COVID-19.
  • Relationships at work.

The impact and your responsibilities because of covid?  (© CIPD)

Many people have been suddenly shifted to new ways of working, such as full-time homeworking, that can increase demands but decrease the level of control people feel they have: this can be a recipe for increased stress. Our 2021 Health and wellbeing at work survey findings clearly show the impact of new stressors on people because of the pandemic.

These concerns are a severe test of people’s resilience, and employers need to be aware of the personal, as well as work, pressures on people. Employers should ensure they have an effective framework in place to detect signs of distress and/or stress and support people’s mental health. They need to ensure line managers in particular have the knowledge and confidence to spot the early warning of signs of stress, such as changes in behaviour and/or performance levels. They need to have sensitive conversations with individuals and signpost to help where needed. All employees should be encouraged to have a good self-care routine including a healthy approach to diet, relaxation and sleep which can help to reduce stress levels.


Signs of stress you should look out for in your people (© CIPD)

The first signs that indicate employees may be suffering from excessive pressure or stress are changes in behaviour or performance. The kinds of change that may occur are listed below, but the important point to remember is being alert to any uncharacteristic behaviour in employees.

Work performance

  • Declining/inconsistent performance.
  • Uncharacteristic errors.
  • Loss of motivation/commitment.
  • Lapses in memory.
  • Increased time at work.
  • Lack of holiday planning/usage.

Conflict and emotional signs

  • Crying.
  • Arguments.
  • Undue sensitivity.
  • Irritability/moodiness.
  • Over-reaction to problems.
  • Personality clashes.


  • Arriving late to work.
  • Leaving early.
  • Absenteeism.
  • Reduced social contacts.

Aggressive behaviour

  • Malicious gossip.
  • Criticism of others.
  • Bullying or harassment.
  • Temper outbursts.

Other behaviours

  • Difficulty relaxing.
  • Increased consumption of alcohol.
  • Increased smoking.
  • Lack of interest in appearance/hygiene.
  • Accidents at home or work.

Physical signs

  • Nervous stumbling speech.
  • Sweating.
  • Tiredness/lethargy.
  • Upset stomach/flatulence.
  • Tension headaches.
  • Rapid weight gain or loss

If you become aware of these signs in the workplace, you have a moral, ethical, and legal resonsibilty to help.


The Costs of poor mental health at work - the key facts (©CIPD)

Thriving at Work: the Stevenson-Farmer review of mental health and employers found that, in addition to the human costs of mental illness, the ‘economic costs to employers, directly to Government and to the economy as a whole are also far greater than we had anticipated’ (Stevenson and Farmer 2017).

The review commissioned new analysis from Deloitte on the costs to employers of mental health illness, which amounts to a cost per employee of between £1,205 and £1,560 per year – between £33 billion and £42 billion a year (Deloitte 2017).

This is made up of:

• absenteeism cost: £8 billion

• presenteeism cost: £17 billion to £26 billion

• staff turnover: £8 billion