Last reviewed 28 October 2021

From feeling overwhelmed to trouble sleeping, a lack of self-confidence and using drugs or alcohol to cope — there are a myriad of ways stress can impact daily life. Long-term stress can lead to physical, mental and emotional exhaustion, also known as burnout. And burnout can lead to serious health implications later down the line.

Signs of stress need to be recognised, acknowledged, and understood, by both employers, and employees. Leading health and wellbeing provider, Health Assured, has analysed its call data from the past three months to understand the top five workplace stresses faced by employees in 2021.

1. Job role

The top workplace stressor relates to the job role. This kind of stress might cause employees to feel unsure about what’s expected of them. Many employees in this calling category are seeking more clarity about their roles. Lack of objectives, no future direction and misunderstood expectations can lead to feelings of confusion, inadequacy and hopelessness. Over time, this can take its toll.

2. Job demands

Next on the list is job demands. Typical issues in this remit include feeling overwhelmed, having not enough hours in the day and struggling to cope. Perhaps it’s an excessive workload, meaning employees are constantly “up against it”. Or it could be an inability to cope with certain tasks required from the job role. Those in this category often report symptoms of burnout and stress-related absences.

3. Work relationships

Relationships can be a cause of tension across all areas of life. In fact, both family and partner-related calls ranked within the top 10 call categories of the past three months. Work relationships came in as the third biggest cause of stress in the workplace. These kinds of calls can range from conflict with colleagues, to bullying and victimisation across the organisation. Stress relating to relationships can subsequently impact many other areas at work too.

4. Support issues

The next biggest contributor to stress in the workplace was related to support issues. These kinds of calls cover problems relating to management and other methods of employee support. Issues in this category include receiving insufficient support in the role and a lack of guidance from management. Employees having difficulty in this category can often feel frustrated, anxious and neglected.

5. Changes at work

Changes at work can include big organisational shifts or smaller scale team changes. Whether it’s redundancies, a flood of leavers or a shift in company policy — there can be a range of reasons for work-life changes. Change can bring uncertainty and new ways of working. This can sometimes be a trigger of stress for employees, making it hard for them to stay engaged with workplace culture.

Stress can affect productivity, performance and absence levels. It can also seep into other areas of life, affecting relationships, work-life balance and mental health. This is why it’s so important for both employers and employees, to grasp the impact of work-stresses and work towards a place of understanding, awareness and support.

Data taken from Health Assured’s 24/7 EAP helpline between 01/06/2021–31/08/2021.

Health Assured

If you need help on mental health and wellbeing issues, Health Assured offers the most comprehensive employee assistance programme (EAP) available today. Health Assured high quality counselling and specialist work-life support is delivered through an in-house team of 60 BACP accredited counsellors, supported by a network over more than 1650 active counsellors across the UK, with access to a further 4500 BACP counsellors. Its specialist service supports 9 million people throughout the UK, handling over 300,000 calls a year.