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Understanding and Managing Stress in the Workplace

Simran Sahota Apr 2, 2024 10:46:47 AM


Stress. The sheer mention of the word can make the blood pressure rise. It can often feel hard to avoid due to the chaos and challenges of modern life. However, how we respond to stress can dictate how it affects us, and it’s not all negative. It may be hard to believe, but stress can be positive. In this blog, we take a closer look at the positive and negative sides of stress and how, as employers, we can give our staff the support they need to manage it in a healthy way.


Positive Stress

As mentioned previously, not all stress is bad for us. Beneficial stress, also known as eustress, is associated with positive outcomes, and while it may have its downsides, it can ultimately be manageable and even motivating. Eustress can be caused by events both big and small and associated with periods of change and new experiences, such as:


  • Having or adopting a child
  • Getting married or beginning a new relationship
  • Starting a new career
  • Travelling to new destinations
  • An exciting sport or exhilarating roller-coaster ride
  • Watching a scary movie or working out at the gym

Positive stress is often related to feelings of excitement or challenge, the latter has also been seen as the cause for motivation and focus when looking at productivity in the workplace. A practical example of this is the pressure of a deadline. When well-managed, it can be a motivating factor that encourages us and can serve as a reminder of our progress.


A study of stress has revealed that those who are less stressed had lower levels of cognitive functioning and give and receive less emotional support than their stressed counterparts - it shows that being stress-free is not always a good thing. Eustress has a place in our lives as it can be what motivates us to challenge our views and actively engage in solving problems.



Negative Stress 


Despite positive stress being common in various aspects of our lives, when we talk about stress, we often tend to lean towards the negative, but why is this? 


During conversation, we often resort to relatable topics. These topics can involve common negative stressors which many of us have experienced to some extent, including: 


  • Work related Stress- The adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them at work

  • Financial Stress- The emotional tension that is specifically related to money. Stress can result from being unable to balance your financial income with your outgoing costs - expenses such as rent or mortgage payments, utility bills or even the supermarket shop

  • Family/Relationship Stress- Whilst situations may vary, family or relationship stress may include changes to the family dynamics, extended family difficulties, conflicts within the home or the loss of a family member. Parents may even experience parental anxiety, which is excessive stress and concern over their child’s wellbeing


These stressors are some of the core components of our lives, so it is difficult to avoid the stress that comes with them. Negative stressors can become consuming and, when not effectively managed, can become seriously problematic.


Prolonged stress can increase the risk of mental health problems and issues with physical health, such as high blood pressure and stroke; lack of sleep due to constant worry can cause exhaustion and poor concentration levels. Relationships can all be affected due to the person’s emotional state.


However, the problems do not stop there, as stress can also have negative consequences in the workplace.



The Impacts of Negative Stress at Work


One or more of your team struggling with stress can result in:


  • Strained work relationships
  • Poor work performance and productivity levels
  • Long term sickness absence


Left unchecked, it can even cause an employee to leave their job. A survey has confirmed a concerning 40% of turnover in the UK is due to stress.



A Stressful Combination


We also should bear in mind that we really can have too much of a good thing. Whether it’s positive or negative stress, they both set off your stress responses, which can take their toll for long periods, especially if combined.


As stress can have high repercussions for any employer, what can you do to support your people?


Managing Stress in the Workplace


Educating your people on stress and how to handle it is important. All stress in some form can affect your workforce, so helping your employees become resilient to stress is vital. By arming your employees with the proper knowledge, tools and support, you can help reduce the impact stress can have on their wellbeing. 


Here are some steps you can take to help your staff manage their stress levels:


Avoid adding to their stress by setting realistic goals and manageable workloads

Expecting employees to complete an unmanageable amount of work and setting goals that align with that workload not only sets them up for failure but also spikes their stress levels, making them less able to perform to their full potential. To avoid placing unnecessary stress on your people, try to remain fair and realistic about your expectations.


Promote work/life balance

Burnout can have a detrimental impact on your people’s wellbeing and affect their ability to work effectively. Offering solutions that enable employees to maintain a healthy work/life balance can help them create healthier boundaries and reduce the toll that stress can take. You can achieve this with solutions like flexible working, providing adequate annual leave and encouraging employees to use it, offering benefits, and finding out what staff need to help them thrive.   


Encourage open communication

A company culture that allows your people to communicate their feelings freely can help combat stress. When staff can seek support at the point of need, it can prevent stress from snowballing into more significant issues that impact the wider organisation. It’s also essential to educate your managers on how to conduct these conversations and ensure they’re able to signpost employees to the right support.   


Provide a wellbeing offering

Having provisions in place so your employees can seek relevant support themselves can help those who don’t feel comfortable opening up or those who need support that goes beyond your internal capabilities. 


Simple steps can go a long way in helping your staff to stay healthy and motivated.


Introducing Vivup


Vivup is a leading employee benefits provider. We deliver an all-encompassing employee engagement platform that connects workforces and boosts your staff’s wellbeing.


Our vision is to improve the lives of workers. We understand that happy employees equal a productive workforce. We offer an incredible range of employee benefits, which include:


Employee Assistance Programme - Our Employee Assistance Programme provides expert in-the-moment support when your people need it most. With a telephone helpline available 24/7, 365 days a year and access to face-to-face counselling, you can be sure that assistance is on hand for any stress-related issues your employees are facing.   


Your Care – While it’s important to offer your people support when stress sets in, it’s also vital that your staff can access proactive and preventative wellbeing tools to address the root causes of stress. Vivup’s Your Care platform can help to build a strong, resilient workforce by creating long-term wellbeing through positive change. This is achieved via:   



  • Assessments and support tools   
  • Personalised goals to motivate your people  
  • Health and fitness app connectivity  
  • A wide range of resources including blogs, videos, recipes, and more


To learn more about how Vivup can help support your people’s wellbeing, contact us today at, or give our friendly team a call on 01252 784540.