Stress & Support

This week is ‘International Stress Awareness Week’ (1st – 5th November 2021), with the intention of raising awareness around best practice on preventing stress. This week PACT HR takes a look at stress in the workplace.

Tackling Stress & Supporting Colleagues in the Workplace

Author: Thomas Atkinson, HR Consultant for PACT HR

Published: 1st November 2021

At a time when mental health awareness is so prevalent both within the workplaces and the media, it is imperative that we consider stress in the workplace, and the potential impact it has not only on individuals, but the workplace as a whole.

For me, it’s key that we distinguish the difference between “pressure” and the term “stress”. Pressure in the workplace, for the most part, can actually be really beneficial to improve performance, and help us feel motivated to meet those deadlines and continue to produce great pieces of work.

It’s when this pressure becomes excessive and continues for an unsustainable amount of time, at which point we become stressed and experience the harmful effects it can have on both our mental and physical health.

In the recent Health & Wellbeing at work survey conducted by CIPD (2021), stress was found to be one of the leading causes for both long and short term absence in the workplace. Workload volumes and management style were found to be the two main leading factors that result in stress related absence in the workplace.

It comes as no real surprise that these results uncovered by the CIPD were also echoed in the Teacher well-being research report commissioned in 2019, and now forms part of the Governments Teacher recruitment & retention strategy to combat excessive workloads and the number of Teachers leaving the profession.

So, how do we stop pressure becoming stress, and negatively impact on our colleagues and staff who are undoubtedly trying their best in potentially challenging circumstances – for me, it’s the proactive support, messages from senior leaders, and the need for continuous dialogue that prevents stress related absence.

What can PACT HR do to support your school?

Well, there are a number of avenues of support we can offer to combat stress in the workplace. It could form part of one of the strategic aims of the school and be showcased as a key value that demonstrates the people centred approach many schools are now adopting, with senior leaders and Governors becoming ambassadors for positive mental health and stress awareness in school.

Whilst promoting stress awareness and mental health as a strategic aim might be a little further down the line for most, there are some really ‘quick wins’ schools can adopt in preventing stress in the workplace, and really support our colleagues and staff. These being:

  • Effective 1-2-1’s with colleagues – Continuous dialogue between managers and their staff will allow workloads, pressures and any other concerns to be discussed in an open and transparent way, seeking resolutions and positive outcomes at the earliest opportunity.
  • Employee wellbeing support – There are a host of proactive support mechanisms that can be offered to staff, from occupational health appointments, counselling, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy & charitable organisations who can offer confidential and proactive advice. Remember, there is no harm in signposting colleagues to these levels of support and giving them the time and space to consider these options.
  • Proactive stress risk assessments and staff surveys – These too are other proactive avenues of support that are often overlooked to support colleagues who may be experiencing signs of stress. By working collaboratively, concerns relating to stress can often be overcome in order to achieve the best possible outcomes.
  • Training for staff & SLT – Training which is aimed at building personal resilience, such as coping techniques and mindfulness, or training for line managers to manage stress are other avenues of proactive support. Many organisations are now training colleagues to become Mental Health First Aiders as an alternative support mechanism.

Whilst these are only a small selection of options available to support colleagues experiencing stress in the workplace, it’s really important that we continue to raise awareness of stress and offer help to those who may need it most!

Should you require advice/support in relation to any of the above please contact your PACT HR Business Partner for support with help supporting your staff.

For more info on how we can support your colleagues and teams, please contact the PACT HR helpdesk on 01274 436644 or email us at for more details.

Last Updated: 1st November 2021