Stress less in the workplace

A woman looks overwhelmed in the office. She is covered in post-it notes and has a frantic look on her face.

Stress less in the workplace

A woman looks overwhelmed in the office. She is covered in post-it notes and has a frantic look on her face.

HR IN PRACTICE Stress management initiatives help employers foster a healthy and supportive work environment that promotes employee wellbeing and optimises performance.

In fast-paced and demanding work environments, managing and reducing stress is essential. 

Stress is an inevitable aspect of modern work life, stemming from a range of factors including tight deadlines and heavy workloads. 

If left unchecked, it can have detrimental effects on both individuals and organisations.

Psychosocial hazards and causes of workplace stress 

Recent amendments to the Model Work Health and Safety Act have introduced codes of practice focused on psychosocial hazards in the workplace. 

The purpose of including psychosocial hazards in the Act is to recognise that work health and safety extends beyond physical hazards to encompass factors that can affect employees’ psychological health.

Psychosocial hazards include workplace factors such as stress, bullying and harassment that pose a risk of causing psychological harm or adversely affecting mental wellbeing. 

It is important to note that the integration of these hazards into the Model Work Health and Safety Act means that employers now have a legal obligation to acknowledge and manage these risks alongside physical hazards. 

This underscores the importance of prioritising mental health in the workplace and of taking a comprehensive approach to safeguarding the wellbeing of all workers.

Consequences of unmanaged stress

Failure to appropriately manage stress can pave the way for severe mental and physical health complications.

It is therefore important for both employers and employees to have a thorough understanding of the potential consequences of stress in order to effectively implement proactive measures that promote employee health, productivity and organisational resilience.

Burnout and fatigue

Workplace stress significantly contributes to both burnout and fatigue among employees. 

The pressure to meet deadlines, handle heavy workloads and navigate challenging dynamics leads to exhaustion and diminished accomplishment over time, which are key components of burnout and fatigue.

As employees struggle to cope, they may experience decreased motivation, impaired concentration and difficulty maintaining work–life balance, all of which contribute to burnout. 

Stress accumulates, making it increasingly challenging to maintain focus, productivity and engagement. 

Meanwhile, the demands and pressures of the work environment may leave employees feeling physically and mentally exhausted, leading to significant fatigue. 

Fatigue presents as persistent feelings of tiredness, difficulty concentrating and decreased enthusiasm for tasks. 

Prolonged fatigue can impair decision-making abilities, heighten the risk of errors and accidents and adversely affect overall job performance.

Impact on the organisation

Workplace stress can have a negative impact on businesses in various ways. High levels of stress among employees often result in decreased business performance and efficiency. 

This is primarily due to the impaired decision-making abilities, reduced productivity and diminished focus caused by stress.

Chronic stress can also contribute to higher rates of absenteeism and turnover, disrupting workflow and team dynamics.

The overall organisational atmosphere becomes strained, hindering collaboration, innovation and the ability to adapt to changes in the business landscape.

Signs of workplace stress 

Recognising the signs of stress is vital because it enables individuals to take timely action to manage their wellbeing and to prevent potential negative consequences for their performance and health. 

Signs include:
•    headaches
•    nausea
•    muscle tension
•    chest pains
•    low energy
•    high blood pressure
•    a dishevelled appearance.

Managing stress in the workplace

Annual leave

Regular annual leave offers employees crucial opportunities to rest, recharge and invest in personal interests, ultimately promoting a healthy work–life balance, job satisfaction and productivity. 

The time off enables individuals to spend quality time with loved ones and pursue activities that promote relaxation and enjoyment, contributing to overall wellbeing and performance in the workplace.

Monitored overtime

Excessive overtime can lead to fatigue, reduced productivity and heightened stress levels. 

By tracking and limiting overtime hours, organisations can identify workload imbalances and promote sustainable work

Prioritising overtime monitoring fosters a supportive work environment while safeguarding employee wellbeing.

Reasonable expectations

While it’s necessary to set standards for employees in terms of productivity and the quality of their work, imposing unreasonable or unrealistic demands can be a significant trigger for workplace stress. 

Examples include requiring excessive overtime, setting unrealistic deadlines or consistently expecting employees to perform tasks beyond their job description.

A supportive working environment When employees feel supported, they are better equipped to cope with stressors and maintain their wellbeing. 

By prioritising employee support, organisations can create an environment in which individuals thrive, leading to increased productivity and job satisfaction.

In summary

Investing in employee wellbeing is essential for the long-term success of any business. 

By prioritising stress management, including identifying and addressing stressors, employers can improve job satisfaction, help prevent burnout, boost organisational performance and create a positive work environment with a culture of resilience and collaboration.

Content supplied. The HR in Practice specialist workplace relations and work (occupational) health and safety advisory service is operated by Wentworth Advantage.

APA Business Group Premium Principal members can contact the HR in Practice service on 1300 138 954 or or visit to access the full suite of online resources.

For more information about joining the APA Business Group, email info@australian. physio or call 1300 306 622.

Disclaimer: The material contained in this publication is general comment and is not intended as advice on any particular matter, nor should it be relied on as a substitute for legal or professional advice. Wentworth Advantage Pty Ltd expressly disclaim all and any liability to any persons whatsoever in respect of anything done or omitted to be done by any such person in reliance whether in whole or in part upon any of the contents of this publication. ©Wentworth Advantage Pty Ltd. 2024

Mental health, self-care and burnout—strategies and conversations to help you and your workers.


© Copyright 2024 by Australian Physiotherapy Association. All rights reserved.