Stress at work

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Stress at work 

Many of us like to maintain a positive work life balance with minimal levels of stress, so if you have a client who wants to talk about stress at work, it’s important to first understand what is causing the stress and why they are finding it stressful.

When assessing occupational stress, it can be helpful to focus on two variables:

  • Workload – Job demand that covers the amount of work, effort and difficulty
  • Control – The amount of freedom to prioritize or schedule work

If somebody has a high workload and low control, they do not have a choice over their schedule of work or how they deliver it. They could be moving from over worked to under worked without the ability to regulate or manage what is happening. When these two factors are combined, stress at work will normally be at its maximum.

Their manager can also play a key role in raising or reducing levels of stress at work, because they are the ones who normally have control over what work takes place. So it is important to consider if the manager is supporting their team and if they are generating workplace stress.


Some of the key questions to consider when coaching workplace stress:

  • How is the work being allocated?
  • How clear are the instructions?
  • What other priorities are there now or next?
  • What exactly is expected and by when?
  • If there is a skill gap, what training is available?
  • What resources are available to help get the work delivered?

Other factors to consider as they also cause stress at work, could be the type of role an individual has. Are they a Police officer or frontline health care worker in the Emergency Department, or is the location or environment they work in stressful like an oil rig or in a mine?

On the other hand, if your client has a high sense of control over their work, they will normally be protected from the adverse consequences of stress at work. If they are themselves a manager for example, or somebody who is self-employed, they can certainly have an often-heavy workload. However, as they are also relatively free to manage their priorities and schedules, they will normally feel more in control and less stressed.


Management stress

But being a manager is also not without stress. Managing a large team, making difficult decisions or being responsible for something not being delivered on time will all bring their own type of stress. So it is important to check how this stress is managed too and if any of this stress is being pushed onto the team?

We know all occupations will have some level of stress and it’s normally when we have demands on us, that exceed what we feel we can cope with. So if your client wants to talk about workplace stress, check workload and control to first see if they are in a ‘subordinate’ role. Because having a limited sense of control over what is happening, will cause stress. Especially if they have to submit to orders, they do not always agree with.


Dealing with stress

Stress enables us to describe in a single word, the range of issues and difficulties we face when adapting to changes and challenges within our everyday life. Some people will have a natural ability to manage stress and others may look for help from a professional coach.

With help, they can learn through experience or training to recognize what causes stress and how best to manage it. But many strategies do exist to help all of us deal with stress and understand how we react to it, so we can learn to cope with the modern world.



Further reading:

Support your clients and explore the potential negative impact stress could have on their performance, by checking out our exclusive ebook and workshop kit in the online shop:

  • Coaching stress management – Learn about stress and how it impacts on performance with this step by step guide for coaching Stress Management. It also includes our ideas for how you can manage your own stress levels as a coach.

  • Understanding Stress Workshop – Use this kit to confidently deliver an interactive half-day understanding stress workshop. It supports discussions that will help your clients understand stress and how it impacts on their everyday lives and the people around them.


We have also published a full range of resources specifically aimed at supporting you as a professional coach and constantly add new content to the site, so please check our on-line shop and look at the full range of games, ebooks and kits. Or read some of the other blog posts written by our team of international coaches.




Please note – Our materials can only be copied and distributed, if you include a reference and link to the original source: (cc) – 2023

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