How To Help Someone Stressed At Work

Megan Thompson · April 19, 2021

how to help someone stressed at workIf you’re wondering how to help someone stressed at work then look no further. We all face stressful days at work sometimes, but it’s important to remember this shouldn’t be the norm. Everyone should enjoy their job and for managers a critical leadership skill is knowing how to identify and how to help someone stressed at work.

Why should managers look out for stress?

Stress is often thought of as something that takes place in our mind, but it can have very real physical effects and deeply hinder your people’s ability to perform their role. By increasing levels of cortisol and adrenaline in the blood, people can experience headaches, stomach pain, insomnia and muscle tension.

With stress in the workplace on the rise, a shocking 66% of people report to have lost sleep due to work-related stress and 16% have quit a job because stress became too overwhelming. Furthermore, In 2019/20 work-related stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 51% of all work-related ill health and 55% of all days lost due to work-related ill-health.

These statistics are staggering, and clearly indicate that stress can – and will – impact your people’s health, productivity and retention if you don’t keep an eye out. Managers must, therefore, know how to help someone stressed at work. If your team is left unsupported, they may become demotivated, unwell and require sick leave.

How to identify employees who are stressed at work

Spotting the signs to help someone stressed at work was much simpler back when managers had a full view of their team every day. Now, with many of us working remotely or reduced hours in the office it’s become much harder knowing how to help someone stressed at work.

A key sign of stress can be changes in your employees behaviour. If someone on your team starts to act out of character for example, more irritable, quiet or withdrawn this could very likely be due to stress. Other behavioural signs are suddenly appearing disinterested, being consistently late to meetings or a lack of commitment and inability to concentrate on work.

Employees who regularly work overtime are also likely to be experiencing stress at work. If they aren’t able to fit their workload into the day and feel they need to work through lunch or after work then they are likely overworked, anxious or stressed, and this will eventually lead to burnout, as we’ve seen happening at Goldman Sachs.

It’s also worth keeping an eye on social interactions. Does anyone on your team appear isolated or distant from others? If so, this may be the cause, or the result of stress at work.

How to help someone stressed at work

Ask what you can do to help

Sometimes we just need a bit of reassurance. If you’ve got a one-on-one meeting coming up, take some time to sit back and listen. When someone is exhibiting signs of stress, don’t ask them if they need help, ask them what you can do to help. Let them know that your job is to help them do their job and you’re there to support them.

Sometimes stress may be due to external factors out of your control. But by making their working environment as comfortable and supportive as possible, you’ll find your people are much more engaged and likely to

Lead by example – take a break!

How To Help Someone Stressed At WorkDo you ever send emails on weekends or after work? If your people are working extra hours through lunch or staying late it might be because you are. Monitor your own actions to avoid giving the impression that you expect employees to be overworked and always busy.

If you’re heading out for a 20 minute walk to clear your head, send a message to your team’s slack channel so people know that they’re allowed to take some time to themselves during the day. Reinforcing your commitment to your team’s mental health through your own actions and communication will go a long way towards reducing stress and presenteeism.

Communicate clearly and honestly

Do people actually understand what you’re telling them? A big cause of stress can be poor communication between employees and management (and even management and executives).

Business jargon often gets in the way of people understanding what they need to do. If some of your people don’t know what “streamlining”, “scalable”, or “core competency” means – what’s the point of sending them a memo? Your people might feel embarrassed or anxious to ask, and your key message will get lost.

Being clear and concise in your communications is a great discipline to learn, and ensures no one is left out of the conversation. Your people will appreciate being spoken to in a straightforward and human tone.

Discover exactly how to help someone stressed at work with an action plan

one-on-one meeting templateMake identifying and helping someone stressed at work quick and simple with an engagement survey. Get real, honest feedback from your people with WeThrive’s non-anonymous survey.

We can tell you exactly who is stressed and specifically what you can do to fix it. Get instant action plans with coaching recommendations and learning resources as soon as your survey closes.

Sign up for a free stress risk assessment today and you’ll get:

  • An engagement and wellbeing risk heat map
  • Top 2 engagement and 2 wellbeing recommendations
  • Curated learning resources

Bonus features

  • Top areas of engagement and wellbeing
  • Full results review

About WeThrive
Employee Engagement, Evolved

WeThrive is the agile employee engagement platform that uncovers how your people truly feel, enabling managers to create highly effective teams, increase employee retention and employee wellbeing and deliver better business results.