Line Management behaviour and stress at work

What is stress?

Stress is the adverse reaction that people have to excessive pressures or other types of demands placed upon them.  There is a clear distinction between pressure, which can be a motivating factor, and stress, which can occur when this pressure becomes excessive.

Why does stress need to be tackled?

About one in six people say they find their work either very or extremely stressful.

Work-related stress accounts for over a third of all new incidents of ill health.

The CIPD 2008 Absence Management survey found stress to be the leading cause of long-term absence in non-manual workers.

Each case of stress, anxiety or depression leads to an average of 30.2 working days lost. In 2007–08, a total of 13.5 million working days were lost in the UK to stress, depression and anxiety.

Nearly a third of all the organisations responding to the CIPD 2008 Absence Management survey reported an increase in stress-related absence in the last 12 months.  This has increased dramatically during 2009 and 2010.

What’s already being done about stress at work?

The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published national Management Standards for work-related stress, which provide guidance on best practice for employers. The overall aim of these standards is to bring about a reduction in the number of employees who report sick or who cannot perform well at work because of stress.

The Management Standards and supporting processes should be designed to:

I.       help simplify risk assessments for stress

II.      encourage employers, employees and their representatives to work in partnership to address work-related stress throughout the organisation

III.     provide a yardstick by which organisations can gauge their performance in tackling the key causes of stress.

Full details of the Management Standards can be found at

Why is stress management particularly important a Manager?

The Management Standards initiative is driven from Health and Safety; however, much of the responsibility for its implementation will fall on line Managers. This means Managers need to know what stress is; and also understand what skills, abilities and behaviours are necessary to implement the Management Standards and manage employees in a way that minimises work-related stress.

As a Manager, you play an important intermediary role between individual staff members and the organisation.  As a result, you can help determine how well your organisation manages stress in its employees.  More importantly, as a Manager you have a huge impact on the work-related stress of your employees.  In fact, the recent CIPD Absence Management survey found that respondents cited management style as in the top three causes of work-related stress overall.

For instance:

  • You can prevent (or conversely cause) stress by the way that you behave towards your employees.
  • Your influence may mean employees can be protected from, or exposed to, stressful working conditions, for instance negotiating an extension to a deadline in a team that is already working to full capacity.
  • Working closely with your team, you are well positioned to identify stress in others at an early stage (emotional intelligence).
  • If one of your employees suffers from stress, you, as their Manager, are likely to be involved in the solution responsible for the uptake and roll-out of risk assessments for work stress within their team/department.

To be able to help you become the most effective ‘Stress Manager’, we/you need to understand exactly what behaviours are important in this context.

What do line Managers need to do to prevent and reduce stress?

Contact lambda Mi Consultants and discuss what and how you can do to assess and monitor all of the facts which are causal of both stress (negative) and well-being (positive).

It’s only through positive actions, positive environments and positive relationships that optimum performance can be achieved AND care and concern for staffs to be shown.

Contact Lambda Mi today to arrange for an Assessment Interview.

Michael Boase

Consultant EQ Emotional Intelligence

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