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Stress Awareness Month 2024

Little By Little, A Little Becomes A Lot. Small and consistent actions each day contribute to overall wellbeing as a cumulative effect.

Stressed woman thinking about problems

About Stress Awareness Month 2024

April is Stress Awareness Month - a campaign held since 1992 aiming to increase public awareness about the causes of stress in modern-day life and how to combat it. This year's theme Little By Little, A Little Becomes A Lot highlights the transformative impact of small and consistent actions on overall wellbeing. The Stress Management Society is encouraging everyone to take steps towards self-care and start simple daily habits which will help to reduce stress and improve mental health. While the impact of small actions on their own may seem little, the cumulative effects of these habits can end up being profound! You can pick one action from the Stress Management Society list or create your own. This can be emotionally, mentally or physically focused, as long as it has a positive impact on your mental wellbeing. Commit to it daily and use the Little By Little Journal to track your progress and record how your wellbeing changes.

Stress Management Society Daily Wellness Challenge

Below you can also find some useful guides, toolkits, and websites where you can get advice on dealing with stress:


Stressed woman at work

An estimated 17.1 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression, or anxiety in 2022/23.

Stress is a major cause of sickness absence in the workplace costing the UK economy £28 billion a year according to the latest economic modelling from AXA UK and Centre of Economic and Business Research. Work-related stress is caused by the pressures felt by an individual as a result of their job role or the conditions in which they are required to carry out that role. There are various factors that may cause or contribute to work-related stress, such as undertaking too much responsibility, excessive workloads, last minute deadlines, conflicts with co-workers, lack of support from the management, or unsafe working conditions. Stress can place immense demands on employees' physical and mental health and negatively affect their engagement, performance, and relationships with colleagues. Therefore, it is vital that the employers recognise the symptoms of stress amongst employees, identify the risks and causes, and focus on early intervention.

Recognise the symptoms of stress

Stress can affect employee's emotions, behaviour, and body in lots of different ways. Managers should look out for signs of stress in employees and consider whether the stress could be linked to work pressure. Some of the symptoms of stress include:

  • Absenteeism

  • Arriving late to work

  • Declining or inconsistent performance

  • Loss of motivation and commitment

  • Issues with memory

  • Increased emotional reactions, e.g. being more tearful, sensitive or aggressive

  • Reduced social contacts

  • Withdrawal

  • Conflicts with others

  • Irritability

  • Uncharacteristic errors

  • Accidents at work

  • Difficulty relaxing

  • Increased consumption of alcohol

  • Lack of interest in appearance or hygiene

Employee can also experience physical signs of stress such as fatigue, lethargy, tension headaches, upset stomach, difficulty breathing, or nervous stumbling speech.

Carry out work-related stress risk assessment

Health and safety legislation requires employers to assess the level of risk from hazards in the workplace and to take all reasonably practicable measures to prevent or sufficiently reduce that risk. This includes preventing work-related stress too. It’s also always best to take a proactive approach to controlling stress, rather than reacting when people are already stressed. Carrying out a well-planned stress risk assessment can help spot the risks of stress which may often go unnoticed. A stress risk assessment is a thorough analysis of the factors in a workplace that may cause employees to experience mental health issues. It's important that stress risk assessments are reviewed regularly after initial implementation to ensure the risks have not changed and that no further measures are needed.

An easy way to record the findings is by using HSE risk assessment template. It states who might be harmed and how, what has been already done to control the risks, what further action is needed to control the risks, who needs to carry our the action, and when the action is needed by. An example of a stress-risk assessment based on the financial services company employing 40 people, is available here.

Employers could also use HSE's Management Standards approach to prepare for and conduct an appropriate risk assessment. The standards help identify and manage six areas of work design which can affect stress levels – demands, control, support, relationships, role, and change. Before employers start to implement the Management Standards approach, it is essential that they ensure that the resource, support and infrastructure for the project are in place. Have a look at Tackling work-related stress using the Management Standards approach. A step-by-step workbook to get guidance on the process of conducting a stress risk assessment using this approach. At Corazon Health we offer a webinar or an onsite session on the workplace stress-risk assessment which aims to provide guidance for employers on how to assess the risk of stress and what suitable measures can be put in place to support staff.

In addition to an organisational stress risk assessment, an Individual Stress Risk Assessment (ISRA) could be conducted when an employee reports they are experiencing work-related stress. Completing an individual stress risk assessment encourages an open discussion about perceived issues and sources of stress. It is an opportunity to identify the support available, make informed decisions and develop an individual action plan to reduce or mitigate stressors. The line manager and employee should periodically review the assessment and action plan to monitor the implementation and effectiveness of agreed control measures. The Management Society has prepared Individual Stress Risk Assessment Guide which provides advice on how to conduct ISRA.

Managers completing a stress risk assessment

Get advice from Occupational Health

If the stress is ongoing and has a negative impact on an employee's mental health, their performance and work attendance, employers should consider referring the employee to Occupational Health for further evaluation and support. Early intervention and addressing of issues can reduce the negative impact of presenteeism, longer-term sickness absence and pressure on other employees. Through our Management Referral Service, our Occupational Health Advisors can assess an employee's condition and advise about the specific short or longer term measures that can be taken to help alleviate stress and manage symptoms of poor mental health at work. This could involve providing reasonable adjustments or accommodations to support them, such as flexible working hours, or reduced workloads.

Identify causes of stress and gather data

Gathering the opinions of employees can be a useful indicator of the potential sources of work-related stress and the overall condition of work environment. Employers may use annual employee surveys or specific surveys of working conditions to investigate whether work-related stress is likely to be a problem for their workforce and, if so, who is likely to be harmed and how. The HSE developed The Stress Indicator Tool which is an online survey designed to gather data anonymously from employees, which can be used in the stress risk assessment element of HSE's Management Standards approach. The Stress Indicator Tool is available for free to pilot for a maximum of 50 employees.

Employers could also gather other type of information which can indicate organisation's prevalence to workplace stress. This could be done through analysing workplace trends of high sickness absence across different departments, which may indicate high levels of fatigue and burnout, or an increased risk of bullying or harassment. Moreover, very helpful data can be the number of referrals to Occupational Health, employee turnover levels, as well as grievance, bullying and harassment figures.

Staff having stress management training

Organise stress management training and mental health awareness sessions for the whole workforce

Practical mental health skills and awareness training are key components for a safe and healthy workplace. This can give people the tools to support their own mental health and that of their colleagues, and encourage them to access timely support when needed. Resilience training could also accompany mental health awareness training and should focus on empowering employees with the skills to recognise when they’re experiencing stress and burnout and how to reduce them.

At Corazon Health we can help employers organise various webinars and onsite sessions such as Developing Mental Resilience, Dealing Effectively With High Pressure Situations, and Mental Health Awareness.

Employers could also distribute materials, such as brochures, fliers, podcasts and videos, to all employees about the signs and symptoms of poor mental health and what support is available.

Have a written stress at work policy in place

The purpose of the stress at work policy is to provide a supportive and healthy work environment for all employees by identifying and managing stressors in the workplace. It outlines the responsibilities of both employees, managers, and HR professionals in preventing and mitigating work-related stress, and provides guidelines for reporting and managing stress when it does occur. The policy should also summarise what internal and external support is available to staff who suffer from stress, such as access to EAP or counselling. Employers should monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the policy regularly, making adjustments as needed.

An example of a stress at work policy can be found here. While the template can give employers an idea of how to structure their stress management policies, they cannot simply amend it and adopt it. Every organisation is different and every workplace has different challenges and problems. This means employers need to create a policy to the exact needs of their organisation.

Train your staff to become Mental Health First Aiders

A workplace Mental Health First Aider can play a key part in supporting colleagues who are experiencing mental health issues. They have a set of practical skills which enable them to identify warning signs, offer non-judgmental support, and connect colleagues to appropriate resources.

Through our partner services, we can organise online or in-person courses certified by Mental Health First Aid England:

  • Become a Mental Health First Aider (MHFAider®)

  • Mental Health Skills for Managers

  • Become a MHFA Champion

  • Become Mental Health Aware

  • MHFA Refresher

  • MHFA Check-In

Introduce an Employee Assistance Programme

An Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is an employer-provided benefit programme aimed at supporting employees with personal and workplace issues. By offering an Employee Assistance Programme, employers can provide mental health support, promote employee wellbeing, and ultimately demonstrate their commitment to the entire workforce. EAP services can be available in different forms, with a growing number of options tailored to meet the specific needs of both employees and employers.

Through our partner services we provide an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) which gives staff instant access to a wide range of supportive services such as 24/7/365 confidential telephone helpline, up to 6 sessions of face to face, telephone or online counselling, legal and financial wellbeing services, 24/7 Crisis Assistance Support, and Critical Incident Support Management. Employees also get access to online Health & Wellbeing Portal and Mobile App which has monthly webinars, lifestyle advice, wellbeing articles, and interactive health assessments.

Provide Counselling Support

Counselling can be particularly beneficial for employees who are experiencing stress or burnout, struggling with work-life balance, or dealing with other personal problems that may be impacting their overall wellbeing and job performance. It offers employees the opportunity to discuss both work related and personal issues which may be causing them concern or distress.

We can arrange both telephone and face to face counselling sessions, as well as critical incident support counselling. All counsellors that we work with are fully qualified and registered with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.

Employee having counselling sessions

Below are additional resources that can provide employers with advice on managing stress at work and supporting employees:

It's crucial that organisations focus their efforts on identifying the main risks of stress to employees and implementing measures to reduce or eradicate them. Employers should take a more proactive, preventative approach to managing stress-related ill health, and not just respond when a problem becomes significant or when someone goes on sick leave. There are moral, financial, and legal reasons for that. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires all employers to protect their employees from the risk of stress at work and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 requires them to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to the health and safety of their employees at work. Taking action to reduce workplace stress not only benefits employees but also contributes to the overall success of an organisation by encouraging a positive and engaged workforce. It can lower risks of litigation, increase work performance, improve staff retention, as well as reduce costs of sick pay, sickness cover, overtime and recruitment.

Get in touch with us so that we can help you adopt a range of measures to proactively manage stress in the workplace and support your employees suffering from stress or experiencing mental health issues.




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