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Causes of stress

HSE has identified six factors that can lead to work related stress if they are not managed properly.

Employees indicate that they are able to cope with the demands of their jobs.
Employees indicate that they are able to have a say about the way they do their work.
Employees indicate that they receive adequate information and support from their colleagues and superiors.
Employees indicate that they are not subjected to unacceptable behaviours, e.g. bullying at work.
Employees indicate that they understand their role and responsibilities.
Employees indicate that the organisation engages them frequently when undergoing an organisational change.

It is important to understand each of the six factors and how they are related to each other, as this can influence the amount of stress an individual experiences:

  • A person can reduce the impact of high demands if they have high control over their work.
  • The impact of high demands and low control can be reduced by having high levels of support, either from colleagues or from you as a manager.
  • Relationships can be one of the biggest sources of stress, especially where there are problems like bullying and harassment.
  • Problems with role are probably the easier problems to solve.
  • Change does not have to be at an organisational level to have an impact on individuals or teams, for example, changes in team members, line managers or the type of work or technology used by the team can be just as stressful.

Understanding that these six factors can cause stress for employees can help employers and managers answer the questions:

In the Management Standards section of this website, we have identified good practice guidance for each of these factors which should encourage a proactive approach to preventing and managing stress in the workplace.

Updated 2012-12-04