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5 smart ways employers can reduce stress in the workplace

How many days in your business last year were lost to sickness absence? According to the HSE, 45% of these lost working days was due to stress (HSE, Statistics 2016). Mental illness, including anxiety, depression and stress related conditions, is the leading cause of sickness and absence from work.

There has never been a more important time for small employers to make reducing stress a top priority.

Shaw Gibbs often get asked by our clients to help them with managing stress related sickness absence cases. We have drawn up a list of our top 5 tips to help small employers prevent / reduce stress in the workplace.


Business benefits of tackling work-related stress:

  • reduced cost of absence, including sick pay, sickness cover, overtime and recruitment
  • improved workplace morale and increased employee satisfaction
  • increased productivity through employees being healthier, happier and better motivated
  • protection from reputational damage and financial costs of employment tribunal claims

5 top tips for reducing stress in your workplace:


One of the major causes of work related stress is the impact of managers and their skills to manage staff and stress in the work place. As a leader it is critical you keep a lid on your own emotions - don’t let negativity, anger or stress rub off on your employees. Practice what you preach and ensure you give yourself enough time to de-stress at the end of the working day – go for a run, enjoy quality time with your family or arrange to socialise with friends. Likewise, organising walking meetings rather than meetings in the boardroom, taking regular breaks and booking holiday will not only put you in a better frame of mind, it will also show your employees that it’s okay to take some time out.


It has been said time and time again, but exercise and a healthy lifestyle is extremely important when it comes to combating workplace related stress. Employee wellness schemes, such as arranging for a discount at local gyms for your employees or simply organising a lunchtime running club is a good way to help employees unwind and feel better about themselves.


Open communication is critical in leadership - keeping employees up to date regarding changes, expectations and their own performance not only keeps them on track but also reduces feelings of stress and anxiety – after all, there is nothing worse than being kept in the dark. As a manager be sure to keep your team abreast of the latest developments and departmental changes. What’s more, open communication is a two way street and the more you communicate with your employees, the more likely they are to share concerns, ideas and thoughts making for much stronger working relationships and a healthier overall company culture.


Sometimes people need 15 minutes to relax, re-group and disengage from technology and general work related interactions. Providing a quiet room, or a chill out space where employees can spend 15 minutes with their thoughts can dramatically help reduce workplace stress and burnout. This is one area small employers forget to forget to factor in to their office space when they grow. After taking a short break free from distractions, people often feel refreshed and re-energised to tackle the rest of the day. If you can, provide comfortable seating and paint the walls a neutral colour – a pleasant environment is good for boosting happiness.


Employees spend a lot of time with their colleagues and therefore it’s important they get along. The more people enjoy their time at work, the better the atmosphere will be – and a better office atmosphere leads to productivity, creativity and collaboration. Organise team lunches, nights out, social events, team away days or arrange for a speaker to come into the office on a subject that interests your staff. Make it fun. Social activity is good for reducing stress, boosting morale and team building.

Further Information:

If you would like assistance in managing an ongoing sickness absence case or if you have a question or would like advice on anything mentioned in this guide please contact our HR Services team on 01865 292260 or send an email to

Contact Us

If you would like assistance in managing an ongoing sickness absence case or if you have a question or would like advice on anything mentioned in this guide please contact our HR Services team on 01865 292260 or send an email to

For more information on how to deal with stress at work



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