Stress management tips for in the workplace

Most employees occasionally experience stress at work. This is not necessarily negative. In fact, as long as moments of stress are sufficiently interspersed with moments of rest, there is nothing wrong with it at all. How do you help your employees manage stress in a healthy manner? Psychosocial prevention advisors Daisy Buttiens and Kirsten O reveal share all there is to know in their book ‘Riet breekt niet’ (Dutch). They give us a quick rundown.

Why is effective stress management important in the workplace?

Kirsten: "Imagine for a moment that one person suddenly rushes fearfully away in a busy street. Without checking whether there is actual danger, several people will immediately start walking in the same direction. People often unconsciously allow themselves to be led by other people's emotions and feelings." 

Daisy: “This is also true in the workplace. If a few employees are experiencing stress, they can easily pull their colleagues along in that process. If you do not intervene in time, you will end up with a team of employees going outside 'their window of stress'. Employees fall into a survival mode, which is destructive for overall well-being and productivity in the workplace." 


People often unconsciously allow themselves to be led by other people's emotions and feelings." Kirsten O Prevention adviser psychosocial aspects

How do you keep employees within 'their window of stress'?

Daisy: "If a negative atmosphere has fallen over the organisation, it is important to begin by addressing the frustrations and fears. A conversation with the confidential adviser/person of trust or manager can take a lot of the pressure off. A psychosocial risk assessment is also often the first step in getting employees temporarily back in 'their window'. After all, they can then express their negative feelings unfiltered."

Kirsten: "To ensure that employees also remain within 'their window' in the long term, draw up a targeted action plan based on the analysis. The points of development and needs will be different for each team. Several basic ingredients do, however, promote well-being and connectedness in a team in any workplace. That certainly includes psychosocial safety. 

It is therefore important to create a safe environment where employees can identify their difficulties. This can be achieved, for example, by asking how everyone is doing during team meetings and genuinely listening to one another. Coffee breaks, team building and lunches can also boost group dynamics and interconnectedness. This increases employees' resilience and expands their 'window of stress'. Teams can therefore cope better with deadlines, challenging assignments and even setbacks." 


What role do managers play in good stress management?

Kirsten: "Managers play a key role in stress management within a team. If they know how to manage the human stress system, they can also help employees work efficiently within 'their window'. Keep in mind, though, that executives already have a lot on their plate. They also need support as very few managers are equipped to deal with this appropriately. This includes, for example, stress coaching. By offering this to managers, you immediately help an entire team move forward."

Daisy: "It is also important not to forget that the manager is also part of a team. Are employees struggling with deep-rooted challenges that remain unresolved? Or does the manager go 'outside his or her window' every once in a while? Then it may help to seek advice from another manager or prevention adviser. They look at the problem from a neutral perspective and may therefore find it easier to identify the right solution. So, also be sure to support managers."

If a negative atmosphere has fallen over the organisation, it is important to start with addressing frustrations and fears." Daisy Buttiens Prevention adviser psychosocial aspects

Interested in reading this book?

‘Riet Breekt Niet’ (Dutch) is now available. It will also come out in French in 2024 ('Le roseau ne se brise pas').
As of 2024, we also cover the book extensively in the basic confidential adviser training (Dutch and French). Participants each receive a copy and gain even greater insights into how they can positively manage stress in their own personal lives, careers and organisations. 
Check out the Person of trust training course >>