Woman stressed at a desk

26 Oct 2023

Reducing Stigma around Stress in the Workplace

Stress is a common experience in the workplace and can have a significant impact on employees.

The World Health Organisation defines work-related stress as ‘the response people may have when presented with work demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope’. It can lead to physical symptoms such as headaches, fatigue and muscle tension, as well as mental symptoms such as anxiety, depression and burnout. These symptoms can result in decreased productivity and increased absenteeism, leading to potential increased costs for employers, as well as interpersonal conflicts and decreased job satisfaction.

Employers play a critical role in reducing and managing stress in the workplace. By taking proactive measures to create a supportive work environment and promoting stress management strategies, employers can help employees cope with stress and improve their overall wellbeing.

But despite the prevalence of stress in workplace, there is still a stigma surrounding it that can prevent people from seeking help. Here are some tips on how to reduce stigma in the workplace:

  • Talk about stress openly
    One of the best ways to reduce the stigma around stress is to talk about it openly. Encourage employees to share their experiences with stress and how they have dealt with it. This can help others feel less alone and give them the confidence to seek help if they need it.
  • Provide resources
    Make sure that employees are aware of the resources available to them if they are feeling stressed. This could include access to mental health professionals, employee assistance programmes or stress management workshops. By providing these resources, you are sending a message that stress is a normal part of life and that seeking help is a sign of strength.
  • Lead by example
    If you are open about your own experiences with stress and how you have dealt with it, others are more likely to feel comfortable doing the same. Additionally, make sure that you are taking care of yourself and managing your own stress levels. This will show employees or colleagues that stress management is a priority and that it is okay to take steps to reduce stress.
  • Educate employees
    Some people may not be aware of the physical and mental effects of stress, which can contribute to the stigma around it. Take the time to educate employees about the effects of stress and how it can impact their health. This will help them understand that stress is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.
  • Foster a supportive environment
    It is important to foster a supportive environment in the workplace. This means creating a culture where employees feel comfortable talking about their experiences with stress and seeking help if they need it. It also means promoting work-life balance and encouraging employees to take breaks when they need them.

Ultimately, investing time in stress management can benefit both employees and employers, leading to increased productivity, improved morale, and a healthier, happier workforce.