Understanding and managing stress in the workplace

Understanding and managing stress in the workplace

After an enlightening introduction from Steve Pepper Chair of the group, he gave a short personal account of dealing with stress which was very informative He has been part of the management group of the Forum Management Team since 2009 and has taken over as chair of the Forum for 2017. The Forum runs roughly 3 times a year at Pavillions and is a valuable resource for people to keep their CPD up to date.

Steve has produced two PDFs that may be useful for you.


First up was Mark Nixon from Arco Training and Consultancy, he is their Senior Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing Consultant / Trainer.    Mark gave a great speech on how the brain works and how we physically react to stress by giving visual demonstrations that brought to life the effects stress can have on the body as well as the mind.  We loved the concept of not just getting people over bouts of stress but sending them home better!  He also gave practical advice in area’s managers can focus on such as allowing employees some control over their work environment, better communication and measuring and ensuring people know they are moving forward.   At the seminar, we were introduced to ‘mental health first aid training’ which we will be sharing with our therapists.

He talked about the importance of positive self-talk and we really felt he had great positive energy that he shared with us. 


Richard Sears Director of Communications at Yorkshire Water.  His personal experience with depression allows Richard to speak with authority on his problems and promotes the need for companies to invest in the mental wellbeing of their employees.

Richard’s story explored the importance of talking about stress and mental health in the workplace. He divulged his experience and personal struggle with depression; explaining how he felt it to be a sign of weakness and something that he could not talk to anyone about, not even his family.

‘I could not help myself until I realised I could not help myself’

This isolation drove Richard to become distant, anxious, unpredictable, and dependent on alcohol. He also came to dread Mondays, terrified at the prospect of going to work, as he felt out of control and helpless. He became physically and mentally broken, and believed that it would damage his career by asking for help at work. However, his Occupational health and HR team was compassionate and understanding, supporting Richard through his worst times. He stressed the importance of recognising and accepting your personal issues, to secure help from your friends, family and colleagues.


We had the great pleasure of meeting Alison Wilson from Alison Wilson & Associates Coaching and had the opportunity to provide some short massage treatments to her and members of her team with positive results!  The company provides individual coaching that equip clients with practical tools to reduce and manage stress along with increasing performance and productivity.  An experienced coach with an outstanding knowledge in her field of work.

Alison’s talk delved into management techniques and resilience tips when dealing with stress. She identified levels of pressure in the workplace, the top 40 signs of stress, and how to prevent mental and emotional issues.

  • Boredom (this occurs if staff are not mentally challenged)
  • Comfort (most people lie in this category)
  • Stretch (it is possible to work in this category for a short period of time)
  • Strain (this leads to poor decision making and fatigue)
  • Overwhelmed (this leads to serious health issues, work absence, exhaustion, break downs and burn outs - anyone can become overwhelmed)

She explained the positive impact of having a robust policy in place to deal with employees’ mental health, something that provides accepting attitudes and positive ‘psychological contracts’. By being aware and using effective communication, workplace stress can be combated in a supportive and reassuring environment.


Beat stress Venn diagram
Susan Gee
Occupational and Health Manager for Yorkshire Water and visiting lecturer at Leeds Beckett University. Her specialist subject is Sickness Absence Management and Wellbeing.

Over the last three years, Yorkshire Water have been developing a wellbeing strategy and during this time they have seen sickness absence rates fall from 3.79 days per employee to 2.6 which generated a saving of £800,000.  So how did they do it?  They reviewed their sickness absence policy so that early intervention happened once someone went off sick and rehabilitation programmes were established to support employees back to work. They recognised that muscular skeletal disorders and stress/mental health issues were the main causes of ill health and introduced physiotherapy and educational back care classes.  They have brought in mental health first aid training and team stress risk assessments, counselling, and consultant psychiatrist where necessary. In addition to all this they have set up a self-help depression group and a disability group on their wellbeing page. 

She explains the many different policies and approaches she is working on including, occupational health, coaching, counselling, CBT therapy, resilience training, management training and mindfulness.

Read More: http://www.hrreview.co.uk/special-editions/susan-gee-wellbeing-workplace-mean-matter/102336


It is now very clear that by introducing a strategic wellbeing programme, using some of the approaches outlined in the forum, employers can have huge effects on their organisation.

Managers can ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of their workers as well as combat stress in the workplace, reduce the risk of injury and produce a happier and productive workforce.

We hope we can be part of your stress management programme and you're in the right place for more information on office massage.