Being in charge of a business can come with its own arsenal of stress inducing scenarios that may distract you from the everyday trials and tribulations of your workforce. However, with the company’s bottom line and people’s health at stake, it’s important to take a step back from your own work and ensure your employees have all they need to maintain an environment that minimises stress.

Before delving into the signs of a stressed workforce, the common causes of workplace stress have to be addressed to discover which could apply to your workplace:

Role ambiguity – Not having a clearly defined role in the business, this uncertainty leads to unpredictable workloads and responsibilities.

Work overload – Variety may be welcomed in the daily pile of work, however making your employees do more work than the day allows will quickly provoke stress.

Unchallenging work – Doing the same monotonous tasks every day can leave employees in a rut. They want to grow their careers and challenging them with new tasks and opportunities helps build a healthy workforce.

Interpersonal problems – Every workplace needs to create an environment where workplace disputes can be handled through the right professionals, this will help solve any conflict in the workplace such as bullying and harassment.

Changes in the business – Restructuring may sometimes be an important part of the business process, however not having a clear structure can create more stressful scenarios as some employees may be left without the right support.

Company culture – Trying to fit into a new group can be stressful at the best times and a culture that promotes inclusiveness can help new and existing employees relax as they start a new role.

Cases of workplace stress aren’t always obvious and a failure to deal with the problem can lead to decreased productivity and output quality, alongside this it could lead to a struggle with employee retention.

The signs of stress can be easy to spot once you know what you’re looking for. However, we can often notice the symptoms and signs of stress in ourselves, but when others display these same indications, we often ignore them.

Writing for HR Zone, Jamie Lawrence says:

“At the end of the day, to spot signs of stress in others really requires us to be able to recognise them in ourselves too. When we do spot signs of stress in others, it’s important to remember there is a solution.”

Some of the common signs of individual stress within the workplace include:

  • Taking more time off than usual
  • Increases in substance habits such as smoking, drinking and prescription or illegal drugs
  • Abnormal behaviour such as becoming more emotional, irritable and frustrated. This behaviour may lead to a level of negativity that begins to damage both domestic and work relationships
  • A change in a person’s sleeping pattern or eating habits
  • More visible physical reactions can occur including an increase in sweat, blood pressure and more common heart palpitations.

Alongside the stress of individual employees, it is arguably easier to notice stress within a team. Internal arguments, poor performance and an increase in customer dissatisfaction are all common signs of a group suffering from workplace stress according to the Health and Safety Executive.

If you do notice signs of stress within your workforce, you may be tempted to bury your head in work and hope it resolves itself. However, continued stress could lead to a variety of mental and physical ailments, which can affect the productivity your entire workforce. More importantly the health of employees is at risk if they remain stressed for prolonged periods of time.

It is estimated that by 2020, depression will rank second as the leading cause of disability worldwide and with stress being one of the leading catalysts to depression, it’s important that we stay on top of it at home and at work.

Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe working environment for all their staff and by understanding the signs of stress we can work to help train ourselves and line managers to ensure we can notice when employees are struggling.