10 signs your employees might be suffering from stress

19 April 2017

Whether it stems from problems in or out of the workplace, spotting symptoms of stress is an important part of managing employees. So, with Stress Awareness Month in full swing, we thought we’d share some stress spotting pointers.

Remember, symptoms of stress will vary largely from employee-to-employee, so it’s important not to generalise common symptoms and jump to conclusions.

Stress-related symptoms generally fall into three categories: emotional, mental and behavioural.

Here are our 10 stress signs to look out for:

1. Working longer hours
Look out for employees who suddenly start staying in work later and later, or coming in earlier and earlier. This could be a sign of an employee who’s struggling with their workload. Of course, many employees stay late or come in early on a regular basis through choice and habit, this is more a cause for concern when such habits are out of character.

2. Increasingly irritable
An uplift in irritability, twitchiness and nervousness could be down to stress. Constant fidgeting, over the top reactions to commonplace comments or employees shying into a shell could be examples of this.

3. Visibly tired
It’s not unusual for people who are stressed to struggle sleeping at night. If you’ve an employee who’s coming to work visibly tired on a regular basis – and it’s not the result of a heavy weekend session! – it could be a tell-tale stress signal.

4. Shying away
When stressed, employees might shy away to avoid drawing any attention to themselves. Again, this is something you’ll need to use your better judgement on. Some employees are naturally more introverted than others, but if an employee who’s normally very loud and chatty begins isolating themselves, it could be a cause for concern.

5. Working through breaks
Similar to employees who suddenly begin coming in early and staying late, employees who stop taking breaks and start using their lunch break to catch up on work could be stressed about their workload.

6. Time off
Are any of your employees not booking time off? Reluctance to take entitled time off could be a sign that an employee is worried they’ll fall behind with their workload. Conversely, employees who begin arriving late on a regular basis or start booking more time off than usual, may be avoiding the workplace to avoid the stressful sensations it gives them.

7. Concentration and memory lapses
An uncharacteristic lapse in memory and concentration could be an indicator of distraction caused by stress. Other symptoms might include increased confusion and indecisiveness.

8. Overly sensitive
If an employee is stressed due to work, it’s likely they’ll be increasingly sensitive and emotional – especially when it comes to work related chat. For example, passing comments or jokes about their performance that’s normally water off a duck’s back, might strike a chord and really upset them if they’re stressed.

9. Lack of energy
Stress can take both a mental and physical toll. If an employee who’s normally full of beans begins displaying signs of constant lethargy and illness, this could be due to stress taking its toll on their physical wellbeing.

10. Socially isolating themselves
If work’s the cause of an employee’s stress, they might begin to withdraw themselves from anything associated with work – like out-of-work activities, for example.

Don’t forget, this list isn’t exhaustive and some employees may show various other signs of stress. In most cases, you’ll need to use your judgement as to what behaviour constitutes cause for concern on a case-by-case basis.

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