Employee With Stress. Stress on the work floor is a common problem. Fortunately, most people have considerable adaptability. They do not just give up when the work pressure is a bit higher than normal, or when they experience occasional stress. When the load on their shoulders becomes too much, however, that they can’t deal with this anymore, this we call ‘stress’. In recent years the number of people suffering from work stress has constantly increased. This stress can have very unpleasant consequences. For example, one can suffer from severe fatigue or insomnia. 

Ultimately, stress can lead to burnout, meaning people are out of the running for a long time. Nevertheless, it is still a taboo for many people to talk about when they experience work stress. They think it is a flaw within themselves if they are to admit that they are feeling weighed down. Of course, nothing is further from the truth, but it is not always easy to recognize employees with stress. In this article, you will read more about work stress, its causes and, above all, how you can wave goodbye to it! We also tell you more about work stress prevention. 

Identify Work Stress Among Employees 

Exposure to a little stress from time to time is very natural and healthy. Sometimes it even helps to work extra well. With stress, the body produces adrenaline, which gives you a boost and improves your performance. Think for example of top athletes. When they are under pressure, they make an extra effort due to the release of the stress hormone, adrenaline. Because of this, the body thinks that danger is imminent and creates action. For example, such a runner runs even faster and perhaps sets a record time. However, when someone suffers from stress for a long time, this can cause many unpleasant symptoms. It is therefore important that you ensure that it does not develop to this stage. You can keep an eye on your own boundaries. But how do you find out if you have employees who suffer from too much stress? 

signs of stress

It is difficult to indicate when an employee experiences too much stress. Many people do not even realize that they are going beyond their own boundaries let alone identifying others boundaries and limits. They do feel that they are under pressure but think it’s ‘normal’ to just continue. Often these people are afraid to be seen as weak by their colleagues. They, therefore, work until it is really too late, and they eventually suffer from a burnout. At that moment the stress complaints have already gotten completely out of hand and it comes at costs to the worker and the company. It is, therefore, better to prevent it from happening than allowing it to fester into a larger problem. 

Dealing With Stress: Coping Mechanism 

There are different ways in which people deal with stress. We call this ‘coping mechanisms’. Those who have learned well how to deal with stress will initially try to solve the problem. People who are capable of this, map out for themselves exactly what is going on. Then they think about how they can best deal with the problem and what they need in order to do so. Sometimes, however, it is not possible to solve such a big problem such as stress, you may need the help of someone else. 

It is therefore very pleasant for employees when they have a manager who is willing to support them in this. To recognize stress among your employees, it is first of all important that you, as a manager, know your employees. That way you find out how they behave and you notice small changes in their behaviour faster. Employees will also be more inclined to tell you when they experience stress. 

Please read: colleague with burnout

Help From Colleagues/Team Feeling 

In some cases, it is clear to see when an employee suffers from work stress. He or she can seek extra support from his or her colleagues. Sometimes someone asks their colleagues for help to deal with the stress, but more often they continue to suffer. When someone has found a listening ear, it can help a lot. Although, in some cases, the stress on the employee will only increase. This can happen, for example, if his or her colleagues do not take the complaint seriously. It can also occur that there are so many employees who experience work stress, that they can’t cope with another’s stress. Certainly, when these employees do not dare to speak to a manager, the working atmosphere can be ruined considerably. If someone with stress continues in this situation, their symptoms can eventually escalate considerably. 

Also read: Personal development of employees

internal team help and support

Different Employee Behavior 

This way employees can end up in escalations or become emotional. We advise every manager to learn how to deal with this so that safety at work is guaranteed. Some people have as little influence as possible on their surroundings when they experience stress. These people are exempt from their teammates when they are under pressure. One person will be completely absorbed in his work, while in another the productivity will go down considerably. A less productive employee does not have to be lazy, but can also suffer from stress complaints. 

It may also be that people show different behaviour than you normally expect from them. For example, they fly off the handle quicker or cry earlier. People who suffer from a lot of stress can also suffer from headaches or other physical complaints. People with a lot of work-related stress also report ill. In all these cases it is a good idea to start a conversation with your employee to see how you can tackle the stress together.

A Safe Feeling Prevents Stress 

Work stress is different from work pressure. When there is pressure from work, the employee is expected to have substantial performance. This work pressure can lead to extra productivity, but when the work pressure becomes too great, work stress can follow. In an ideal world, an employee could immediately start calling when the workload becomes too much for him or her and turns into work stress. This is only possible if the employee feels safe at his or her workplace. 

There are many reasons that an employee may feel uncomfortable or even unsafe at work. For example, there may be an unpleasant working atmosphere. Therefore, ensure that the atmosphere at work remains good. You can do this as a manager together with your employees. 

Also read: increase safety as a manager

tranquil work feeling


Together, ensure that everyone treats each other with respect. Although it is often not discussed, there is still bullying that takes place on the work floor. This allows employees to feel that they are not part of the team. Do you identify as part of managerial bullying behaviour on the work floor? Then raise the conversation about it. Never participate in bullying and do not choose a side before you know exactly what is going on. Are you signalling bullying behaviour? Then it is important to address the bully or bullies about this. If they do not improve their behaviour, a consequence must be attached to them. 

A joke or banter must be possible, but when boundaries are exceeded, action must be taken. In addition to bullying, employees can also exhibit cross-border behaviour in other ways. Think for example of (sexual) intimidation or aggression. Make sure that all employees know who to turn to when something unpleasant occurs. For example, appoint a confidential counsellor within the organization and make sure that he or she is familiar with your employees. 

Personal Contact With Employees 

Furthermore, it is worthwhile to get to know everyone you are dealing with at work as a manager. That way it is easier to work together. Besides, the threshold for entering into a conversation when things don’t go as desired will be much easier. Feeling safe in your workplace is straightforward when you know who you are working with. If you build a bond with your colleagues, you also build trust in each other. 

The idea that a manager stands ‘above’ other employees and only engages with his or her own business, is hopelessly outdated. Employees want to know exactly who their supervisor is. Managers who have good contact with their team can count on many benefits in return. Team members will raise problems faster, but also dare to come up with good ideas faster, which the whole team has something to benefit from. Win-win! 

Also, read about internal mobility

Engaging in Conversation About Work Stress With Employees 

Imagine that you do indeed consider stress to be noticed by one of your employees, what do you do? Do you suspect that your employee is suffering from stress complaints? Then you would do well to address this with him or her. Of course, it seems much easier to put your head in the sand. After all, is not the stress just the case of that employee himself? Unfortunately, as a manager, you also have the responsibility to support your team. Do you see that things are not going quite as well as they did before, or do you receive signals that indicate that someone is experiencing severe stress? Talk to that person! 

Are you instigating the conversation? Make sure you do this in a quiet place. Your other colleagues have no concern with this, it is a private matter. In addition, your employee feels more inclined to share what is going on, when no prying eyes or ears are dropping around. Find a space where no one can hear or see your conversation and take the time for it. Also, avoid being accusatory and do not make any assumptions. Offer your employee a chair and a cup of coffee or tea and then start the conversation. Take the time for this and do not stuff such a conversation in the five minutes that remain between two other appointments. 

take time to privately talk with employees

Conversation With Staff Members 

Ask the employee how he or she is doing and listen carefully to the answer you receive. Maybe he or she is already explaining what is happening. If this is not the case, you can ask further questions. Try to mention facts and not to speak from your own opinion. Do not ask, for example: “Jane, why have you made such a mess of your work lately?” Say, for example, “Jane, I see that you have been less productive lately, do you know why that is and is there anything I can do for you?” 

Provide your employees with the feeling that you are listening to them and that they can go to you as a manager. Try to think along and actively search for solutions. This way, an employee does not just feel heard, but also understood and, at the same time you tackle the problem together. Managers who are involved and think along with them can prevent their team members from continuing their stress complaints. In this way, they can even prevent employees from suffering burnout. And that’s a big result because anyone who experiences a burnout usually has a recovery time of +6 months. 

Please read also: Reintegration after burnout

Be Proactive When Talking to Employees 

To start talking about stress, you do not necessarily have to find signals. For example, you can also organize meetings about work stress. During such a meeting you can give work stress a stage and make it open for discussion in this way. Often you see that if there is one colleague who expresses him/herself then other colleagues follow. 

You can let all your colleagues talk about their own experiences with work stress and then start looking for ways to reduce the stress on the work floor. Together you stand stronger, especially when you as a team know what is happening to everyone. Such a meeting is also a good time to give tips to prevent stress. Also, ask for feedback and tips from your employees. That way they feel heard and you can benefit from direct feedback. This is much more personal than sending a survey by e-mail once a year and will certainly be appreciated by your employees.  

Read also: stress prevention

help employees to openly discuss stress

Strengthen The Team Feeling 

Although some people prefer to work alone, almost everyone likes to have good contact with his or her team. If the team members do not know each other well or do not like each other well, this can quickly cause problems. Collaboration is a lot less pleasant and people don’t like to ask for help during their work. Fortunately, it is very easy to increase team spirit at work. This can be done by taking very simple measures. 

For example, enter a moment when the entire team comes together. This can be in the form of a drink at the end of the week, but it is even more fun to organize a day out with the whole team. Another tip is to meet regularly with your team for something fun. This can be a nice chat during the stand-up, but also a game of table football or table tennis. This way you can enjoy a lot more fun in the workplace! And that pleasure brings many extra benefits. For example, employees who do not work all day long, but also have fun are a lot more productive and creative. 

Employee with burnout

An Employee With Stress? Our Training Courses Offer a Solution 

It is best to prevent stress from getting worse in the workplace. You can do this by applying the techniques mentioned above: 

  • get to know employees,
  • ensure a safe environment and
  • strengthen the ties within the team.

Do you want to arm yourself against stress at work? Then you can follow the training ‘stress and burnout prevention’ with us. During this training, you will learn how to ensure that stress can be nipped in the bud before it goes from bad to worse. When you take a training course, we recommend that you first have a specific company check carried out by our prevention team. During this check, our experts look for things that generate extra stress for people on the work floor. This is because managers do not always have insight into this. Managers who know what is going on do not always know how to act. 

With us, you can learn this. Step by step, we explain how you deal with stress at the root, so that you do not have to tackle it when it has already developed into something more serious. We teach you everything about stress prevention, but also provide you with the ammunition for situations where the stress is already high. 

Who Are We?

Milltain, with a team of experienced trainers, supports organizations in the prevention of stress and the (re) finding of work happiness in the workplace. Our training courses are aimed at managers within companies. A burnout quickly costs the organization € 70,000.

In addition to financial suffering, human suffering is high. Not only for the employee but also for close colleagues who have to deal with the blows. Before you know it you are in a negative vicious circle.

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