Since the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown restrictions started, many of our lives have drastically changed. We are limited on who we can see, how we work, and when and where we can access services. How people cope with these changes varies from person to person. Some people might have enjoyed certain aspects of lockdown, like spending more time with their families and working from home. Others may have struggled with their mental health and had difficulty coping with these new challenges. As we enter a second wave of the pandemic, mental health issues are expected to increase, and with that are growing concerns on how that will impact workplaces and the global economy.

Employers have a responsibility to address and manage mental health issues among their employees in ‘normal’ times, but particularly as we get into a second wave. Failing to do so will not only affect individuals on a personal level, but can have major implications on families, organisations and society as a whole. There are many things that employers can do to support their employees through this turbulent time.

Impact of this year

The initial wave of the Covid-19 pandemic was an extremely challenging time for many people around the world. As early into the pandemic as April 2020, researchers linked Covid-19 with a general deterioration in mental health in the UK. Another study conducted six months into Covid-19 restrictions found that people’s ability to handle the stress of the pandemic has been slowly declining in the UK. Around half of the population in the UK had reported feeling anxious or worried, with 18% of people experiencing feelings of loneliness in late August.

Many people have experienced (or are still experiencing) stress, anxiety, depression or feelings of loneliness or isolation. It is common for people to feel irritable, have feelings of helplessness or have trouble sleeping. This range of concerns and experiences could stem from many factors related to the pandemic, for example:

  • Fear or concern over your own or others’ health and wellbeing
  • Confusion or lack of understanding around new restrictions in place
  • Lack of access or changes to services
  • Financial difficulties
  • Social isolation
  • Changes in your daily routine
  • Changes in your work environment, schedule and workload
  • Financial, employment or economic uncertainty and instability
  • Loss of a loved one to Covid-19

But now we are getting into a second wave of the pandemic. With a second wave, also comes a second wave of mental health concerns, which will bring further challenges to individuals, families, organisations and communities. There is expected to be an increase in depression, post-traumatic stress, suicides, drug and alcohol misuse and prolonged periods of grief as millions around the world die from the virus. For comparison, consider the SARS pandemic of 2003. Follow up research conducted four years later found that 42.5% of survivors and 50% of the bereaved met the criteria for a mental illness.

Challenges business face

The impact of poor mental health in the workplace is well-known. Failure to manage this issue effectively can harm productivity, morale and retention, as well as increase absenteeism – all affecting the organisation’s bottom line and competitive positioning. So while your organisation is operating during the pandemic, maintaining a focus on employee wellbeing is still crucial.

From a business perspective, these concerns alone are worth addressing. But taking care of your employees’ wellbeing is also important from a moral and ethical standpoint, and in some cases, a legal one. While many of the concerns around mental health and wellbeing might not be directly work-related, employers have a duty of care to protect their employees’ health, safety and wellbeing.

Taking an active role in managing mental health within your workplace can have a positive impact on the organisation, but also society as a whole.

What employers can do

While it is good to have short-term crisis response procedures in place, organisations need to create long-term solutions to help prevent and manage mental health concerns in the workplace. Covid-19 isn’t going away, and neither are the mental health and wellbeing problems around it. It is critical that employers take proactive steps to protect and foster employee wellbeing during these uncertain times.

1) Communicate regularly

Many staff, particularly staff that work from home, may not be communicating as much with their managers and teams. Coupled with the lack of social interaction with friends, family and colleagues, this could lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation. Managers should make an effort to contact their staff regularly and arrange meetings so employees can stay up-to-date with any decisions or changes. Build interpersonal relationships with your staff and check in with them. How are they? How are they doing with homeworking or with the current regulations? When asking these questions, it is important to actively listen and empathise with people’s varying feelings and experiences as everyone handles hardship in different ways.

Communication and listening help employees feel supported. When employees feel supported at work, they are more likely to be engaged, more satisfied with their job, have reduced levels of stress and mental health issues.

2) Encourage socialising

We are social beings and staying connected with others is a vital part of our mental wellbeing. To keep work social, organise online social events or socially distanced meetups if government regulations permit it. But opportunities to socialise don’t have to be extravagant – they can be as simple as extending a weekly meeting from 30 minutes to an hour to give everyone a chance to chat and catch up with each other. Or spend five minutes extra minutes in a morning meeting answering a question of the day.

3) Promote self-care

As we delve into a second wave of the pandemic and the winter months, everyone should take extra care of their wellbeing. Encourage staff to implement self-care measures to help nourish their physical, emotional and mental health. For example, eating healthy foods, practising mindfulness, getting enough sleep and staying connected.

Employers can promote these practices in various ways. You can provide online mental health resources with information on how people can look after themselves. Another streamlined way to make sure everyone receives and engages with this information is to enrol them on online wellbeing training, which is particularly useful now that many people are working remotely. Enrol your staff on courses such as Nutrition, Healthy Living, Physical Activity, Mindfulness, Financial Wellbeing and Resilience, all of which have tips and tricks for minding yourself both in normal and difficult situations.

4) Offer mental health awareness training and surveys

It can be challenging for some people to recognise when their mental health and wellbeing might be suffering. They might not have ever experienced challenges to this degree, or maybe they have a hard time identifying negative feelings or have poor methods of coping.

Creating awareness around mental health can help your employees recognise signs of concern and work towards preventing or managing mental health problems. Mental health awareness training also helps break down stigmas associated with mental health problems and can make it clear to your employees that the organisation is proactive and supportive about their wellbeing.

Stress or mental health surveys is another method to assess how your staff are doing. With a compliance tracking system, you can easily send out surveys, enrol your employees on online training, track completions and gather survey data, helping your organisation reach all of your employees with ease.

5) Promote seeking support

Encourage staff to reach out and ask for help and support if they need it. This can be with a trusted colleague, their GP or medical health professional, or anyone else inside or outside the organisation. Make sure they know how and who they can contact within the organisation for help, for example, occupational health or the employee assistance programme.

It can also be beneficial to provide contact details for external mental health support services, for example, mental health hotline numbers or links to websites for different mental health organisations. Make sure all staff can easily access this information.


Organisations can make a major difference in employees’ mental health and wellbeing both inside and outside of the workplace. You can do this by keeping in regular contact with your staff and offering more opportunities for people to socialise both during and after work. But people also need to know what they can do to take care of themselves during the second wave and know how to recognise the signs and reach out for help if they have concerns about their mental wellbeing. You can keep employees informed and show your support by providing resources, online training or simply lending them your ear when things get tough.

By working together and looking after one another, everyone can better cope with the challenges of the pandemic and continue to lead productive and healthy lives.


No matter how much we love our jobs, the daily grind can sometimes leave us feeling under pressure. But it’s important to know the difference between a bad day in the office and the early warning signs of stress. While we might not be able to control all the things that can cause us to feel overwhelmed, we can change how we react to and approach them.

Learning how to deal with stress at work can be a positive step towards maintaining your own health and wellbeing. Here’s our guide to 21 things that you can do to fight work related stress.


What is Work Related Stress?

Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain that develops in response to overwhelming and/or excessive pressure. It can sneak up on us when we least expect it and affect different areas of our lives – including our day to day work.

Indeed, work-related stress is one of the most common forms of stress that we can encounter. Long working hours, looming deadlines and seemingly unending tasks can often leave us feeling anxious, overworked and on edge, which can have a negative effect on our performance and productivity. If left unchecked, stress can have a serious impact on our health and wellbeing, and can have an effect on other parts of our lives, such as our relationships and home life.

It sounds like a lot, and indeed it can be. But learning about how to deal with stress at work doesn’t have to be, well – stressful. There are simple steps that you can take to help reduce stress and help avoid it in the future.


1) Talk It Out

Sometimes the best way to deal with stress at work is to share your worries and concerns with those around you. Talking about the things that bother you is a healthy way to deal with stress and can often help you figure out how to approach the problems that cause it. 

Talk to Your Manager. Talking to your Supervisor or Line Manager can often feel like a daunting task, but making them aware of how you feel can often be the easiest way to reduce or even eliminate the issues that cause you to feel stressed. They may be unaware of how you feel, and are in a position to make changes in the workplace that could help significantly reduce stress.

Interact With Your Peers and Co-Workers. Sometimes stress can leave us feeling isolated, but it’s important to remember that we are surrounded by people who can offer help, support and advice. Building a strong social network at work can give you the opportunity to talk about your concerns and may even provide you with positive solutions.

Make Time for Family and Friends. Talking with people who are not connected to your workplace can be a great way to relieve stress, and they can often offer a new perspective on things. However, it’s also important to know when to switch off and spend time with the people that mean a lot to you.


2)  Take Some Time For Yourself

It’s easy to get stuck tending to a seemingly never-ending list of responsibilities in our on and off hours. Taking some time away from work- even for just a few seconds – can help you come back to your work feeling focused and ready to tackle the task at hand.

Make Time for Break Time. Missing out on break time to continue working often means we deny our brain a much-needed break away from tasks that require a lot of time and focus. Try to make sure you take a break, even if it’s a small one. Go and make a cup of tea, grab a bathroom break or have a quick chat with a colleague – every little helps.

Make a Change of Scenery. Getting up and moving around can often help give our brains a moment to re-calibrate. Give yourself a small goal; go to the kitchen and make yourself a drink or plan a short walk during lunchtime. A change of scenery can often bring about a change of perspective, which can help you find a new way to approach your workload.

Take a Look Around. Looking away from your work, even for a few moments can give your brain a chance to relax and come back a little more focused. Try to focus on something else for about 20 seconds before looking back at your work, and you might find a new solution.  

Take Time Off. To quote a great philosopher “life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it”. Work may play an important role in our lives, but it is equally important to take time away from it. Booking time off in advance helps relieve work related stress by giving you something to look forward to in the future.


3) Change Your Habits

Good habits that worked for us in the past may become less effective over time, and it can become easy to get stuck in a rut without realising it. On the other hand, bad habits can develop in response to stress at work, which can impact the quality of your work. It’s always important to evaluate your routine and see what’s working – and what isn’t.

Acknowledge Your Bad Habits. We all have them, and they can be pretty hard to break, but recognising your bad habits can be the first step to overcome them. Leaving for work late, for example, could end up with you stuck in traffic. Not only will this increase stress levels, but it starts before you even get into the office, making for a poor start to the workday. Identifying your bad habits and taking steps to overcome them can be a good way to avoid unnecessary stress in the workplace.

Watch Out for Procrastination. Taking a break is a good, and even healthy way, to deal with stress at work. There is, however, a fine line between taking a break from work and outright ignoring it. Avoiding tasks might feel like a stress reliever, but it’s only a short term fix. In reality, procrastinating just reduces the amount of time you have to complete them, which can lead to even more stress down the line. Remember that even the most diligent worker can be prone to bouts of procrastination, so be aware of habits that might lead to work becoming neglected.

If You’re Stuck, Ask for Help. It’s inevitable that at some point we hit a wall with our work. Maybe a project isn’t coming together as well as it should, or vague instructions make a task impossible to complete. This can leave us feeling inadequate and isolated, or too proud to admit that we need assistance. It’s important to remember that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness –  in fact, asking for help can even be an enriching experience. It could lead to exciting collaborations or new training opportunities that can help you gain experience.

Know Your Responsibilities. It’s easy to fall into tasks that may not necessarily be in your job description. Talk to others who have the same role as you or request a meeting with your manager to outline what your duties are. You may be spreading yourself too thin trying to complete projects that aren’t yours to focus on.


4) Get Organised.

Sometimes, issues that we encounter at work are often the result of poor or ineffective organisation. Creating an effective day to day routine can bring structure to your workday, which can help you avoid stressful situations.

Assess your Workload. Prioritise your tasks so that you can tackle big projects first. Not only will this knock a large task off your to-do-list, but finishing a high-profile project can produce a sense of accomplishment that carries over to your other tasks. Regularly assess your workload and tailor it to fit your workday.   

Create a Schedule That Works for You. Start your week off by mapping out what you need to do and what your timeframe is for each task. Not only will this allow you to plan your work week effectively, but it can also let you schedule in much-needed break time.

Find a Good Work Life Balance. This is easier said than done, but striking a good work life balance can go a long way to help reduce work stress. While you’re at work, focus on the tasks at hand and try not to get distracted. At home, make sure you know when to switch off at the end of the day – stay away from your work emails, switch off your phone alerts and focus on the things that matter most to you.


5) Put Things in Perspective.

In many cases the simplest way is often the most effective. Changing the way you think about your work can help you gain a new perspective and be the first step to solving potential underlying issues.   

Focus on What You Can Control. Often when we encounter a problem, we tend to worry about things related to it. Producing a piece of work, for example can bring with it a mountain of additional worries and concerns – Who will read it? What will they think? What if they dislike it? It’s important to remember that we can’t influence things beyond our control – but we can influence things that are. Try to focus on what you can do, rather than what you can’t.

Take a Breath. This might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how little we actually take the time to just stop and have a breather. Taking a few calming breaths can help clear your head and give you a moment to refocus on the task at hand.

Set Realistic Goals. While it may be good to have something to strive towards, trying to live up to unrealistic expectations that we set for ourselves is one of the most common causes of work-related stress. While you may want to proofread a 600-page document by the end of the day, it’s important to ask yourself if you can without making significant sacrifices to your wellbeing and other duties. Setting realistic daily, weekly or even monthly goals for yourself can be an effective way to be productive, reduce stress and measure personal development.


6) Look After Your Health and Wellbeing

Your overall health and wellbeing can affect how you feel throughout the day, both inside and outside of work. Making small changes to your diet and routine can be a simple and effective way to help you deal with stress at work.

Eat Well. What we eat can have a significant impact on the way we feel. Unhealthy food may give you a boost in the short term due to their high sugar content, but eating healthily gives our bodies everything they need to maintain good energy and focus throughout the workday.

Exercise Regularly. Exercise helps the body to produce feel-good endorphins that can help bring down stress levels, sharpen the mind and lift your mood. You don’t need to become a workout fanatic, just find something that works for you – join a running club, take up a sport or commit to walking 30 minutes during your lunch break. Even something small can make a huge difference.

Get Enough Sleep. Things that stress us out can seem 10 times worse when we don’t have the energy to face them. Getting enough sleep can be an effective way to reduce stress at work and help provide the energy you need to tackle your workload.

Treat Yourself. While exercising, eating healthily and following a good routine can have a positive impact on your working life, letting loose every once in a while can sometimes be exactly what you need. Go out for a meal, buy something you’ve wanted for a while, or travel somewhere new – you’d be surprised what a little change can do.



Stress isn’t completely avoidable, and in some cases it can even be useful. It may sound a little counter-intuitive, but some stress can actually be good for us – at least in small doses. It can push us to implement positive changes, help us progress in areas where we need it most, and push us to plan for the future. However, if stress starts to have an impact on your performance at work and your health and wellbeing, its time to take action and make some positive changes.


Looking for effective stress awareness training? Try VinciWorks’ Stress Awareness course for free. 

Disclaimer: This article is purely for informational purposes.  For more information on mental health in the workplace, visit the Health and Safety Executive.

An expansive survey conducted on nearly 44,000 employees revealed startling data regarding mental health in relation to workplace well-being. Almost half of all employees report mental health troubles like anxiety, stress, and mood problems, 84% of those employees report to work anyway and only 42% of them believe their managers would notice that they were suffering from these issues.

Considering the number of people plagued by mental health diagnoses worldwide, it can be assumed that nearly every workplace is impacted, workplace well-being is one of today’s biggest business challenges:

  • 300 million people globally suffer from depression
  • 11 Million working days lost to Stress in the UK
  • 0.5 Million employees suffering Work-Related Stress in the UK
  • 1 in 5 American adults suffers from mental illness and 1 in 25 have a serious mental illness
  • The most common mental illnesses in the United States are anxiety and depression

In addition to these alarming statistics, research shows that even a healthy employee’s work environment can have an impact on their mental health. Things like lack of autonomy, poor communication, unclear organizational objectives, and poor support in their roles can cause changes in mood, symptoms of mental illness, or increased likelihood to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.

Neil Shah; Founder and Director of the Stress Management Society, describes the business case for a well-being programme in an article for The HR Review like this;

“It is estimated that workplace stress is directly responsible for 25% of sickness absence, 70% of visits to the doctor and for 85% of serious illnesses. At an organisational level, it is estimated that the average amount of stress-caused sick days to a company with 1000 employees would cost that company £269,730 annually.

Workplace stress doesn’t just burn money though absenteeism; employee retention is another major financial factor. Over 300,000 employees leave their jobs each year because of stress. When you look at advertising costs, time spent on recruiting, training costs and loss of productivity during the subsequent induction period – according to the CIPD, recruiting a replacement can cost up to six months’ salary.”

Aside from leading employees in a way that promotes workplace well-being and offering adequate mental health coverage, employers can improve mental wellness among staff by providing free access to awareness courses for both staff and managers.

The mental health training for staff developed by VinciWorks has these key objectives:

  • To help employees identify and either eliminate or manage potential sources of stress in their work environment
  • To teach employees to identify the difference between healthy stress and unhealthy stress
  • To give employees the tools and resources they need to manage stress and get further help when needed
  • To empower employees to talk to their managers about how they’re feeling at work

Managers have a key role in any Workplace Well-Being Programme

Stress awareness training for managers needs to take a slightly different approach. Managers need to be empowered with the skills they need to talk about stress and mental health with their team members, create meaningful and rewarding jobs, identify the warning signs of stress and mental illness among their teams, and provide the tools and support their employees need to achieve and maintain optimal mental health. Managers who are armed with information and resources are more likely to succeed in providing employees with the support they need to overcome stress and other mental health challenges.

Many companies have found that their investment in both the physical and mental well-being of their employees has improved their company culture, decreased healthcare costs, and improved productivity, along with simply feeling like the right thing to do.

Looking for in-depth and engaging mental health and wellbeing? Explore our comprehensive eLearning library and try any of our courses for free. 

9.9 million working days were lost in the UK in 2014/15 due to one thing: work-related stress. This means that – for one year – stress in the workplace cost the UK economy nearly £5.5 billion. Is your organisation doing enough to tackle the problem?

What causes work-related stress?

Work-related stress develops when an employee is unable to cope with the pressures being placed on them at work. There are a number of key ‘triggers’ which have been found to be common across all types of work, including a workload that is too large; lack of flexibility in work patterns; a hostile working environment, including workplace bullying and violence; lack of control over the work an employee undertakes; lack of support; too much, or too little, responsibility; difficult relationships; lack of employee understanding of their role within the organisation; and organisational change, large or small. Taking control of these across your organisation will help to tackle the negative impacts of work-related stress.

How much of an issue is work-related stress?

In 2014/15, stress accounted for 35% of all work-related illnesses and 43% of working days lost due to ill health. The incidence rate was 1380 per 100,000 workers, with a total of 440,000 cases, including 234,000 new cases. The overall number of lost working days was 9.9 million, equating to 243 days lost per case. Stress has been found to be more prevalent in the public sector. And, despite increasing awareness of the negative effects of stress, the numbers of cases have stayed constant for the last decade.

Not only does stress cause high levels of sickness absence and staff turnover, the broader impacts of stress oemployee health are also staggering. Stress can cause heart palpitations, headaches, and other aches and pains. Behind musculoskeletal problems, it is the second biggest health complaint in the workforce. It can drive unhealthy behaviours – such as smoking and heavy drinking – which, in turn, can lead to increased risk of heart disease. Recent studies suggest that there are links to type 2 diabetes. And there have been cases of suicides linked to work-related stress and anxiety. 

What are your responsibilities and what should you do about it?

As an employer, you have responsibilities to provide a healthy and safe working environment, in line with the statutory requirements set out in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. The duty covers carrying out and monitoring a risk assessment on your workplace, including the prevalence of stress.

As well as your legal duties, you also have a social responsibility to provide a healthy workplace. This will not only benefit your employees. You’re also likely to see increased motivation and productivity, a more effective work-life balance, reduced absence, fewer risks of long-term illnesses and staff who recover more quickly when they do fall ill. All this means significant improvements in staff morale – and substantial cost savings.

The first step is to evaluate the extent of stress within your organisation. This should involve a risk assessment and an analysis of your absence data, as well as a staff survey. You should involve staff as you develop a policy, which should set out the responsibilities of different groups of staff, as well as all employees, on the steps your organisation will take to mitigate stress. You should develop an action plan to implement any changes that are required. You should know what good practice looks like; seek out examples and set a yardstick for your business.

If your organisation relies heavily on email as a way of communicating, you might want to think specifically about including guidelines for email use out of office hours. This will make it easier for your employees to feel more comfortable stepping away from their smartphones and enjoying some real time away from the job. There might also be other specific activities – including any kind of organisational change – where work-related stress demands particular attention.

Your line managers are perhaps the most critical part of creating a supportive culture. They are best placed to identify which members of their team might be suffering from stress. They are also employees whose behaviour can have the most significant impact on others. Make sure your line managers know what is expected of them, what management styles should be adopted and what the impacts of work-related stress are on your organisation.

Training can help to set the tone for all your employees, including your line managers. Our new Stress Awareness Training course has been designed to encourage employees to work positively. The course identifies the causes of stress and offers solutions to manage it more effectively. It can be tailored to deliver your organisation’s stress management policy.

Looking for in-depth and engaging Mental Health and Wellbeing training? Explore our comprehensive eLearning library and try any of our courses for free.