Workplace Stress and Wellbeing: Is there anything that I can do to be proactive in addressing this?

Posted in : HR Updates ROI on 13 November 2018
Caroline Reidy
The HR Suite
Issues covered:

I have noticed that my business is busier, but as a result, my team are more stressed. Is there anything I can do to be proactive in addressing this?

Staff dissatisfaction at work and stress at work have become significant factors for employers to contend with. This poses a concern in itself, separate to the significant cost of managing these for the employer. IBEC (2011) stated that 11 million days are lost through absenteeism every year at a cost of €1.5 billion which highlights that improving employee wellbeing should be at the core of employer agendas and will in general be in the best interest of the all team members.

Many of us, as employees and employers, encounter varying degrees of stress throughout the course of our working days. Workplace stress occurs “when the demands of the job and the working environment on a person exceeds their capacity to meet them”. There are varying factors which cause work related stress such as poor communications, bullying and harassment, work overload, long or unsocial hours, etc.

Employers have a duty of care to employees. This is reinforced in the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005. It is wise for employers to have a procedure in place to tackle the issue should they identify an employee experiencing such stress. This not only empowers the employer to take action to help the employee, but it also shows the employee experiencing stress and other co-workers that the company cares and that they are willing to help alleviate such stresses.

Ensuring wellbeing is inherent in the workplace will give rise to benefits such as retention of healthy happy employees, decreased rates of illness/injury, reduced absenteeism, increased productivity, increased morale and satisfaction.

How to manage work-related stress and wellbeing in your workplace?

  • Awareness & Proactiveness: Employers should ensure that demands that are placed on employees are reasonable. It is best practice that if employers become aware of staff members suffering from stress, they take action immediately to ascertain the cause and identify ways of removing the stressor. Often one of the first instances of when an employer becomes aware that an employee is suffering from stress is when they receive a sickness certificate from the employee. Once this occurs, the employer should write to the employee immediately expressing concern regarding the nature of the illness. The employer must take steps to establish the cause of the stress and remove it, if practicable, for the employee’s health and safety.  There are a number of actions which an employer can take in dealing with work-related stress. Each individual case is unique to the individual circumstances and each employer must bear this in mind in evaluating the best course of action to tackle the issues.
    • One such action is to refer an employee for an Occupational Health Assessment which will provide them with objective medical advice on the employee’s condition.
    • Another action is to identify the causes of stress, be they working hours or workload and take steps to alleviate them.
    • The employer can also offer the employee sick leave, annual leave or unpaid leave to take time to recover from the stress related illness.
  • Policies: Policies and procedures can be put in place to protect and support employees can include Dignity at Work, Grievance and Discipline Procedures.
  • Information: According to the findings by the Nutrition and Health Foundation (NHF), many of Ireland's workers want to become healthier and would like to see their employers playing a role in this. Provide information on general wellness ideas i.e. group walks after work, charity events i.e. Darkness into Light, nutritional ideas, following Operation Transformation etc.
  • EAP:To help support employees an Employee Assistance Programme could be offered free and confidential to the employee. This is a service that provides advice and counselling supports to employees in times of need. EAPS are generally available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and are accessible by phone, email and online.  The service is designed to help employees with a wide range of work, family and personal issues.  Topics include, but are not limited to: Relationships, Health and well-being, Debt, Disability and illness, Bereavement and loss, Stress, Elder care etc. The benefits to the employer of introducing the service are vast and overall will result in improved employee performance and motivation. Staff will feel valued, it results in enhanced employee retention with lessened employee grievances. It can increase cost and time savings through reduced absenteeism and presentism. Employers will also reap the rewards of a happier, healthier and more productive workforce.
  • Communication: Meet with employees on a regular basis one to one to discuss performance and goals. Have brainstorming sessions with your team for improving happiness and well-being at work.
  • Culture: Create an open environment for employees to learn about their own well-being and share ideas with their colleagues.
  • Training: Provide training on a number of topics to help reduce stress or to create awareness; time management, wellbeing and mental health awareness, dignity and respect etc.


This article is correct at 13/11/2018

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Caroline Reidy
The HR Suite

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