Part 2: The Signs and Symptoms of Stress

What are the signs and symptoms of stress?

If your employees (or you) are suffering from some of the symptoms listed below, it may indicate that they are feeling the effects of stress. If you believe that their work (or aspects of their work) are causing these symptoms or making them worse, then you must speak take immediate action.

At the same time, if your employees (or you) are experiencing these symptoms as a result of problems outside of work then you should talk to your HR department or line manager.

By recognising the symptoms and taking action at an early stage, the more serious consequences of stress can be reduced or stopped completely.

Signs of stress in individuals:

Emotional Symptoms:

  • Feeling depressed or negative
  • Feeling disappointed with yourself
  • Having increased emotional reactions - more tearful, sensitive or aggressive
  • Loss of motivation, commitment and confidence
  • Finding that you have regular mood swings (not behavioural)
  • Feeling lonely or withdrawn from others

Mental Others:

  • Being confused
  • Finding it hard to make a decision
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Being forgetful, poor memory

Changes from your normal behaviour:

  • Finding that your eating habits have changed
  • Smoking, drinking or taking drugs more in order to ‘cope'
  • Regular mood swings
  • Your sleep patterns change
  • Feeling nervous or twitchy
  • Having changes in attendance such as arriving later or taking more time off

Importantly, whilst these are symptoms of those experiencing stress, they may also be indicative of other conditions. If you are concerned about yourself please seek advice from your GP. If you are concerned about a colleague try to convince them to see their GP.

Signs of stress in a company or organisation:

  • Increase in staff turnover
  • Increase in complaints and grievances
  • Disputes and disaffection within the company and among employees
  • Increased sickness absence
  • Increased reports or murmurings of stress
  • Poor performance or lower output
  • Complaints or negative feedback from customers

In your company, it is not up to you or your managers to diagnose stress but if you are worried or concerned about a member of your team, you should recommend that they see a GP.

It is your responsibility, however, to recognise changes of behaviour among your employees and take prompt action if you believe that something is wrong and affecting the health and wellbeing of your employees at work. This is part of your legal requirement under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Part 3: Benefits of Managing Stress at Work