How to Spot the Warning Signs of Stress in Your Team, and What You Can Do to Help

Stress Awareness Month

Victoria April 06, 2021
Reading time: 3 minutes

After such a tumultuous year, millions of people across the UK are experiencing high levels of stress. In fact, research has shown that 74% of UK adults felt so stressed in the last year that they felt unable to cope. 

As it is an employer's duty of care to look out for the welfare of its workforce, it’s imperative that stress is recognised and taken as seriously as physical health issues. Without adequate support, stress can lead to a myriad of physical problems, and will undoubtedly result in decreased engagement, morale and productivity by default.

Learning how to spot the signs of stress in your team is one of the best measures you can take to protect your team (and company, by extension). Read on to discover the four biggest warning signs to look out for in an employee or team member’s mental wellbeing. 

Taking more time off than usual or spending more time away from their desk.

Stress triggers the autonomic nervous system’s fight-or-flight response. And while many people assume this reaction is only applicable to dangerous, high-adrenaline situations, chronic mental stress will have a similar effect. If your team member or employee is asking for a lot of time off, frequently calling in sick, or regularly showing up late to work, chances are their ‘flight’ response has been triggered. 

Allowing your team some flexibility to create balance in their lives may help to alleviate their stress. Research from Owl Labs has found that companies who offer remote working have a 25% lower turnover rate than those who don’t.

Loss of productivity or trouble concentrating.

The incapacitating nature of stress is such that it often gets worse the longer it goes untreated. Chronic stress presents a vicious cycle in which the victim feels unable to cope with what’s on their plate. As a result, their concentration and productivity suffers, leading to even higher levels of stress and worry. 

Never underestimate the power of a conversation when it comes to mental health. Allowing someone to vent their worries to you can help them rationalise their problems and bring around a better sense of calm. 

Abusing alcohol or drugs.

We all need to blow off some steam during our time off. But if your team member is engaging in alcohol use a little too often, or is turning to drugs to cope, it’s a surefire sign that something’s wrong. 

Try inviting them to do recreational activities outside of work that don’t typically involve drugs or alcohol. Exercise is one of the most effective forms of stress relief, and the simple act of moving can help restore balance and clear the mind. 

Negative behaviour towards others / deteriorating work relationships.

Erratic or conflictive behaviour is one of the most common stress signals in the workplace. If it isn’t addressed quickly and effectively, the destructive effects can create an extremely awkward environment for everyone on your team. 

Workplace counsellors are great at helping you support employees who are acting differently under high levels of stress. If you think one of your team members is struggling to cope, it’s important to take action before things get worse. 


At Space HR, we’re helping businesses look after their employees’ wellbeing by fostering a safe, secure and supported working environment, where all their needs are met. Visit our website to find out more about what we do. 

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