5th July 2024

Managing Stress and Burnout in the Workplace

EST is a multi-service professional practice offering HR Consultancy, Accountancy and Tax Advice, Wealth Management and Commercial Finance.

Izzy Matthews, Marketing Coordinator at EST focuses on how to reduce stress and burnout in the workplace. As a continuation from May’s blog on mental health in the workplace, we are aiming to shine a light on the unspoken threat of staff burnout due to stress and how we can prevent this from taking a toll on employees.

I thought burnout was a thing of the past?

Though burnout rates are decreasing as the years go on, research by HR Grapevine has showed that over a third of workers (34%) say they have called in sick as a result of burnout, nearly a quarter (23%) have taken time off using their annual leave due to this same issue. It is clear to see that in the UK, burnout is having a massive impact on the wellbeing of workers which is having knock on consequences for the productivity of businesses. Not only is the mental wellbeing of your staff needing to be monitored for their sake, but it is also crucial to the proper running of your business.

Figures like this clearly show that there is still more that can be done to ensure the mental wellbeing of our staff.  We believe that employees are the heart of every business, and to ensure that a business is thriving, it is crucial that the employees are being cared for and given the ability to thrive as well.

Work-related stress is an important consideration for businesses since all employers have a legal duty to prevent work related stress to support good mental health in the workplace. Managing work-related stress doesn’t just help employees, it can help employers avoid the problems that stress brings with it: reduced productivity, sickness absence, or even having staff leave.

The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) Working Minds campaign in April this year called on employers to support workers mental health by following the ‘5 R’s’.  This is a good way to ensure that you are reaching out to your staff and ensuring open lines of communication in order to address work-related stress in the organisation. They include:

  • Reach out and have conversations.
  • Recognise the signs and causes of stress.
  • Respond to any risks identified by agreeing action points.
  • Reflect on the actions taken – have things improved?
  • Make it Routine to check back in on how things are going.

Sometimes stress is easy to spot in the workplace, but there can be less obvious indicators that stress is taking a toll on workers. For instance, stress may be behind a worker who is taking more time off, arriving for work later, seems to have lost motivation or confidence, or seems more emotional or nervous than normal.

An increase in arguments, complaints, sickness absence, people leaving, or decreased performance can be indicators that there is a stress problem affecting team members.  The legal duty that employers have in relation to stress does not extend to diagnosing or treating stress. However, it is an employer’s responsibility to identify the risks of stress and then act on them.

Another way to help identify workplace stress is through the use of pulse surveys. By taking the ‘pulse’ of the business it will be easier to identify trends with stress and burnout, which will mean that measures will be able to be implemented quickly and with the input of the team – anonymously of course!

By far the simplest technique to create time is to ensure that you set time aside for you to carry out the tasks on your “To Do List”.

We have all heard employees announce, “I have so much to do; I am working from home tomorrow”.  This is an example of putting yourself into a DND mode to allow you to complete tasks that are on your “To Do List”.

Why is this so?

All too often we come into our business premises with a list of tasks that we intend to complete.  The telephone rings, customers and suppliers want time, fellow employees come into your office also seeking your time, and emails and correspondence continues to flow onto your desk – Is this a familiar feeling?

If you meet with your team and agree with them that this is the case for many of them, then it makes sense to agree we need to do something about it.

The recommendation is to switch the office into a Do Not Disturb (DND) mode for typically one to two hours every day.  The DND mode includes no external telephone calls coming through to employees, no internal telephone calls, no disturbing employees internally, and a discipline to switch off emails other than for those relevant for the “To Do List” of the individual employee. Many businesses rotate their DND time amongst their employees.

The net result of this is that people get more of a sense of achievement at the end of a day, and this often results in a feeling of satisfaction and far less stress.  It is also advisable to limit out of hours e-mails to help employees maintain a good work/life balance.

The wins of stress management

By managing workplace stress effectively there will be clear positive implications for the business. When an employee is happy and motivated, there is increased staff cohesion and productivity and what can be bad about that? It also will mean that managers jobs are easier as there is less tension and there will be less need for those uncomfortable conversations that no one enjoys.

How can our HR team help?

At EST we are passionate at trying to support workplaces with their team’s mental wellbeing and removing any negativity around the topic.

EST offer an Employee Wellbeing course helping to unlock the secrets to a happier, healthier, and more productive workplace. We provide you with the knowledge and tools to create a Wellbeing Action Plan and Policy that address the root of these challenges.

EST also offer a range of management training courses which could support your teams in their pursuit of leadership excellence:

  • Wellbeing in the Workplace.
  • Managing Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion.
  • Managing Remote Teams.
  • Absence Management.

Please contact our HR Team if you would like more information about this or any other support in respect of HR or organisational and management development at 02921 303888 or