Stress Management Guidance for HR

employees with stress, anxiety or depression

In 2020/21, the HSE reported 822,000 employees suffering from work related stress, anxiety or depression. These are likely to be caused by;

High Workloads

Lack of Support in the Workplace

Workplace Violence

Workplace Threats & Bullying

COVID-19 Pandemic

Stress, Depression & Anxiety have therefore made up 50% of all work-related ill health in 2020/21.

The Metropolitan Council has taken steps to introduce a stress management policy & procedure that takes their legal duty of care to a higher standard.

Take a look below & use the HSE Management Standards to set out your plan for stress management in the workplace.

The situation

The council introduced a revised stress management policy to provide managers with support, advice, and tools that would effectively manage work-related stress.

Assessing the risks

The council created a group of representatives to discuss the project. This group comprised of;

  • HR,
  • trade unions,
  • Organisational Development,
  • Health and Wellbeing,
  • Corporate Safety
  • directorate representatives.

The group could then develop a series of practical solutions to tackle work-related stress.

To get started with assessing your risks, try the HSE Indicator Tool to gather your employee data.

In the council’s case, individual teams and focus groups met to discuss their findings. Hot spots were identified, and an action plan set out.

Developing solutions

From the action plan, they made organisational changes:

  • A corporate survey action plan based on staff feedback
  • A stress management at work intranet page created, with advice on dealing with stress at work
  • Articles in the council staff magazine, giving helpful tips for both managers and employees
  • Reintroduction of two training courses: one for managers and the other for employees to raise awareness of dealing with and managing stress
  • The council continues to brief their managers to support their understanding of policies and, in particular, how to deal with stress-related absence

They also made management changes, including:

  • An open-door policy to encourage staff to discuss any issues
  • A work shadowing programme to enable staff to increase their knowledge of each other’s roles and responsibilities
  • Weekly staff training sessions on teamwork and relationship building to promote mutual respect between employees
  • Reviewing staff rotas and working patterns regularly to accommodate employees’ circumstances and address work-life balance issues

The Results

  • The number of stress-related sickness days lost has reduced by about a third (over 13 000 days) in the first year following intervention
  • More managers and staff take advantage of training and development opportunities. This has given employees the opportunity to gain new skills and raise their awareness of stress management.

Tips for You

  • It is vitally important that everybody works together across the workforce
  • Senior management commitment is essential

The HSE Management Standards


The HSE Management Standards cover six key areas of work that, if not properly managed, can lead to poor health, lower productivity, and increased absence rates.

The Management Standards are:

  • Demands– this includes issues such as workload, work patterns and the work environment
  • Control– how much say the person has in the way they do their work
  • Support– this includes the encouragement, sponsorship and resources provided by the organisation, line management and colleagues
  • Relationships– this includes promoting positive working to avoid conflict and dealing with unacceptable behaviour
  • Role– whether people understand their role within the organisation and whether the organisation ensures that they do not have conflicting roles
  • Change– managing organisational change (large or small) and communicating this in the organisation

Take a look at HSE’s workbook which provides tips, advice and guidance from people who have gone through the process.

Mental Health training could form part of your action plan for strategically placed members of staff. It could also be a great start to creating your new stress management policy.

By sending a key member of staff on our Mental Health First Aider Course, you can discover how to implement a new policy & potential actions to include.

Find Out More About Mental Health Training Below…

For the full HSE Case Study, click here

All statistics from HSE 20/21 are available here