More than four in ten employees have suffered from stress, according to a report by Mental Health in the Workplace.

Half of those employees interviewed said that their jobs have become more stressful.

With a clear correlation between stress and mental health conditions, identifying the main causes of stress in the workplace is the important being able to offer support.

Some stress is known to boost productivity and employee focus.

However, stress can also significantly negatively impact staff’s performance, health and wellbeing.

Honouring World Health Day, it is important explore how to quickly identify the cause, and the steps needed to be taken to reduce the stress.


What causes workplace stress?

Workplace stress is defined as the harmful reaction that people have to undue pressure and demands placed on them at work.

With 70 percent of employees suffering from a mental health condition, identifying the leading causes of stress in the workplace is important so, as an employer, you can take proactive steps to minimise or eliminate the risk all together.

The report showed that the most common causes of stress include:


  1. Increased workload 

Employees today feel that a good work-life balance is more important than salary, which is why a survey found that 61 percent of workers would quit their jobs or consider doing so because their job did not offer them the flexibility.

In the mental health report, it was found that increased workloads are the biggest cause of stress, with 38.2 percent of employees citing this as the main cause of mental health issues in the workplace.

Increased workload is associated with reduced levels of productivity, higher levels of fatigue and a higher risk of employee burnout.


  1. Financial concerns 

It is not uncommon for businesses to now be employing up to five generations of staff.

However, regardless of what generation, money is important to everyone. For some, the worry of money can be a big part of day-to-day life.

For younger generations, there is a constant struggle to overcome student debt, that’s higher than ever before, while trying to save for life milestones like buying a first home.

For some, that first home can take up to ten years to save for. Older generations however tend to have a higher number of debts including mortgages, car payments and credit cards, but can also face family financial burdens.

Financial concerns can dominate an employee’s mind and lead to a lack of concentration, poor productivity and also affect their short and long term health and wellbeing.


  1. Hitting deadlines 

When an employee is facing multiple tight deadlines, it can put an extreme level of pressure on them and sometimes the cause is something completely out of their control.

Employees can also have feel like they have an obligation to work late or over weekends in order to complete all of their work. This can put a strain on relationships at home and exacerbate the issue.


  1. Workplace bullying 

Also known as a “silent epidemic“, many organisations do not have a clear approach for addressing and tackling the problem. Workplace bullying can take many different forms, however employers sometimes struggle proving that it has taken place. Some more common examples include:

  • Spreading harmful or hurtful rumours
  • Deliberately excluding someone socially
  • Threatening behaviour
  • Physical abuse
  • Changing roles and responsibilities maliciously or with no reason


Learning how to effectively manage workplace stress will not only allow for happier and healthier employees but will improve productivity and job satisfaction rates.





Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.