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Reducing Stress in the Workplace

By: Lisa Koning - Updated: 7 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Manager Stress Workplace Staff

Stress in the work place negatively impacts productivity, de-motivates staff and can result in high staff turnover. While some staff will enjoy being kept busy, in the long-term, stress at work is damaging and harmful. An important aspect of management is understanding the signs of stress and reducing its levels.

As a manager, how can you reduce stress in your workplace?

Be Organised

As a manager, you set the example for appropriate behaviour. If you are disorganised, forget deadlines, are late for meetings; your team will soon see this as behaviour that is tolerated. If however, you have regular team meetings, reminding people of upcoming targets and showing progress, you will instil a culture of organisation.

A lack of organisation is a common cause of stress. Unexpected events will happen that throw any well planned calendar into array, however if you can plan what you do know you can then better cope with any curve balls thrown your way. Being organised means being prepared for the unknown, and while you may not know what is around the corner, you can leave some time in your planning to incorporate any unexpected changes.

Have a diary and keep it up-to-date. Schedule in regular meetings with your team; do just leave it up to them to see you when they have an issue. A regular brief update can prevent a small issue turning into a major problem.

Make it clear to your team that deadlines must be meet and any indication of delays must be highlighted as soon as it becomes known. As the manager, ensure your team remain aware of important commitments and the impact of delays to others.


Stress can be caused by people misunderstanding a situation and making incorrect assumptions. If people know big changes are happening in their organisation, yet do not know the facts, they can begin to ‘fear the worst’. If, for example, people’s jobs are not under threat, tell them so. While you may not have drawn that conclusion it can be surprising what can cause alarm to others; so where you can, tell people the facts.

Create a Stress Free Working Environment

Many physical factors can contribute to stress in the workplace:
  • Are noise levels acceptable?
  • Is the working area clean and a pleasant environment to work in?
  • Is the temperature acceptable?
  • Is there sufficient natural lighting and adequate ventilation?
  • Does your workplace comply with all health and safety guidelines?
Any of these factors can cause concerns for employees and increase their stress levels.

Staff Interaction

How employees interact with each other can impact stress levels. An effective team can support each other and reduce stress levels, however an ineffective team creates stress. If members of a team do not get along, or are in regular conflict, the entire team, no only the individuals involved, suffer. As the manager in this situation, it is important that you immediately address any issues regarding staff inter-relations. Difficulties need to be addressed and resolved, and if they do not appear to be disappearing in a reason time period then further action must be taken.

Everyone Views Stress Differently

What you may consider to be simply the demands of work life can seem very stressful to others. If an employee appears to be struggling and not coping well, have a discussion with them and try to understand the cause. Do not dismiss their reaction because you don’t find the situation stressful. Everyone reacts differently to stress and have different levels of stress they can cope with. An effective manager helps his or her staff understand their stress levels, and to develop techniques to minimise stress and to cope better with stress when it arises.


While some people thrive on lots to do, others do not enjoy being feeling out of control: that they have too much work in the timeframe they are given, or perhaps that they do not have the necessary skills to do the work. High expectations, that the person feels are unachievable, are demotivating and stressful. Having to regularly work overtime or unsociable hours can affect people's health and cause stress. Delegation is an important aspect of a manager's role, but effective delegation does not cause stress for the person or people involved.

You May be the Cause of the Stress!

As a manager you have a big impact on your staff. The way you treat your staff, whether verbally (such as the way you speak to them), or non-verbally (such as being infrequently in the office) can affect the stress levels in your workplace. When trying to reduce stress try to consider how you may be contributing to stress levels.

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