What is work-related stress?

Find out what counts as work-related stress and what your employer should do about it


Causes of workplace stress

If you are feeling stressed at work, you are certainly not alone. Workplace pressures are a constant challenge for members working in healthcare services. Other stressful experiences can be caused by:

  • uncertainty arising from organisational change
  • working in cramped spaces, dealing with missing or broken equipment and work environments that are too hot or cold
  • inflexible or punitive management culture

Employers have duty of care to protect workers from stress at work, but they often need to be pushed into taking the right action. 

You can talk to your CSP safety rep about this, if there is one, or get together with CSP colleagues to take action. There are also things you can do for yourself to reduce or avoid work-related stress.

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If there isn't one in your workplace, consider becoming a safety rep.

What counts as work-related stress?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) describes work-related stress as 'the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them'. 

If you are unsure whether what you are feeling is stress, the HSE sets out some common signs, such as being unable to concentrate or having sleep difficulties.

Work-related stress among physiotherapists is often caused by high workloads, reorganisations, insufficient resources, and lack of support and professional development. Other problems include inadequate referral details, frustrated patients, difficult staff relationships and lone working.

What your employer should be doing

Employers have a legal duty to protect employees from stress at work by doing a 'suitable and sufficient' assessment of all health and safety risks to employees, including to their mental health.

They must identify the preventive and protective measures needed to reduce those risks.

The NHS Staff Council provides trusts with detailed guidance on how to prevent or manage stress

The HSE has designed a useful talking toolkit including a version for health service providers to help managers reduce workplace stress. It is based on managers having conversations with employees to gather information about any problems that could be causing stress.

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Also of interest


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