Stress in the Workplace

Managing stress is a fine craft and one that doesn’t just simply happen overnight, we must carefully implement coping strategies to address stress inducing tasks in order to avoid burnout and health issues related to the mounting pressures. Alongside this, it’s very important for companies as a whole to consider and address the stresses of their team, which they can do by offering wellbeing advice to help avoid any wider impact on the business.

On average we spend about a 3rd of our lives in a working environment which means we may all experience stress related to work, whether it be hitting that important deadline or managing a big important project. The question is, what tasks at work cause the most stress and what can we do about it? Read on to find out more.


Stress breakdown

Graphic that shows the number of self-reported stress cases between men and women.

When we break down self-reported instances of stress by age, people aged 25 - 34 have the highest reported cases, with 5,110 reported collectivity for both males and females. This could be a reflection of the natural career path at this age with many people moving up the ranks and establishing themselves within their industries.   

When it comes to specific tasks, we are collectively most stressed by handling complaints, multitasking several project deadlines, and back to back meetings. However our survey revealed that males are more stressed when it comes to performance reviews (18.9%) and troubleshooting (16.2%), whereas women rank higher for customer phone calls (19.6%) and presenting (18.3%).


Top 10 most stressful tasks

Table that shows the common causes of workplace stress by task.

Within the top 10 most stressful tasks, there are some typical work related jobs such as email management (15%) and performance reviews (17.6%). We also see tasks such as working with large digital documents (14.3%), which 25-34 year olds find the most stressful of all age groups (15.2%).


Advice on stress management

It is important to establish supportive relationships with employees and provide practical suggestions to manage day to day stresses. We have taken the top three most stressful tasks and offered some advice below.

Dealing with complaints

When dealing with complaints, whether it be internal or external, these situations have potential to escalate due to built up frustrations. The most important point to teach your employees is to put their emotions aside, remain calm and remember not to take it personally. When offering your employees advice, ask them to acknowledge the issue, investigate the problem and focus on what they can do to help (even if the issue does not lie with them).  


Some people are natural multitaskers, however, getting it right can be a fine art. Advise your team to implement planning, get them to use lists, group tasks together and prioritise urgent jobs. Often tasks at work can feel like they’re all urgent, but in perspective there is always a way to give them an order of importance.

Back to back meetings 

Remind your staff to be precious with their time and ask themselves… is this meeting necessary? Is it imperative that I attend? Reiterate that it’s best to be honest with themselves and others in order to preserve their time, so encourage them to push back when needed.


Why it matters…

Reducing aggravating factors related to stress within your employees’ workday is a huge benefit for any organisation. It creates a positive working environment and gets the best out of your employees. The importance of this is reflected in the below graphic.

Graphic that shows the effects of workplace stress amongst employees.

Work related stress stretches beyond the office, as nearly 30% of employees surveyed stated that they had to take medication to deal with stress caused by work, and close to 50% noted that stress affects their home life. Those surveyed said they’d actually felt so overwhelmed with work related stress that they needed time off (35.3%) or even quit (39.8%).

Stress is not entirely unavoidable and there will always be instances where people might feel overwhelmed, however when companies make an active effort to understand their workforce’s everyday stresses, these moments can be managed effectively with practical and structured advice. Find out more about how you can support your employee wellbeing here.



Survey data was conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Sodexo. 1509 respondents were surveyed between 23.04.2021 - 26.04.2021. Censuswide abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society which are based on the ESOMAR principles.