A healthy portion of stress, for instance when you are presented with a new challenge or when a certain deadline starts to approach, is part of the work environment. When the stress level gets so high that you experience physical or mental consequences (e.g. insomnia, mood swings or headaches), you're dealing with unhealthy stress. 

In a recent survey, staffing specialist Walters People sought to understand the experiences and perceptions of employees regarding work-related stress. Evi Melkenbeke, HR & payroll manager at Walters People, outlines the key findings of the survey.

Frequency of Work-Related Stress

32% of professionals reported experiencing an unhealthy level of work-related stress on a daily or regular basis. Just over half of respondents (53%) indicated experiencing occasional increased stress at work. Finally, 16% of employees never or rarely feel significantly stressed in the workplace. 

Evi: “With stress levels at work being problematic for a third of employees, the urgency of addressing this issue proactively and implementing strategies to mitigate stress levels is clear. If not addressed, workplace stress can snowball into higher turnover rates, levels of employee burnout, absenteeism and lower levels of productivity.”

Primary Triggers 

“Workload and the type of work emerged as the primary triggers for work-related stress, as reported by a significant majority of 71% of respondents,” says Evi. “This underscores the need for employers to carefully evaluate and manage workloads to prevent excessive stress levels. Additionally, 16% of respondents cited their relationship with their manager as a stress trigger, indicating the importance of positive and supportive leadership. The role of workplace culture and colleagues as stress triggers was mentioned by 10% of respondents, suggesting the need for an open and collaborative work environment. Finally, 3% of respondents expressed that company and job security were stress-inducing factors, revealing the importance of organizational stability and clear communication.”


When asked about the primary responsibility for managing unhealthy workplace-induced stress, a majority of respondents (59%) indicated that line managers should take the lead in tackling stress.

“Managers play a crucial role in regulating workloads, creating supportive work environments and addressing the concerns of their team members”, Evi explains.

"Furthermore, 35% of surveyed professionals believed HR and senior leaders should share this responsibility. Only 6% stated that managing work-related stress should be down to the team members or to the individual.”

Employer support

When it comes to employer support in managing unhealthy work-related stress, the survey revealed mixed perceptions. While 23% of employees believed their employer is very proactive in helping them manage stress in, 50% feel that their employer is only somewhat supportive. As much as 27% of surveyed professionals feel that their employer is not doing enough to address workplace stress. This highlights the importance for employers to take active steps to create a stress-reducing work environment and provide adequate support to their employees. 

“Employers must strike the balance between not breaking the banks or piling pressure onto line managers to solve workplace stress but still being proactive and listening to the needs of their employees. Simple interventions such as making sure workloads are manageable, setting realistic deadlines and making sure employees have access to support, safe spaces and relevant resources – can all help to alleviate pressure in the workplace as well as professionals’ day-to-day work life,” Evi concludes.


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