How to deal with stress

Common causes of personal stress


Sometimes people may suffer from stress that isn't caused by work-related issues but instead has an external cause from their personal life.

Common external causes of stress include:

  • relationship difficulties or a divorce
  • serious illness in the family
  • caring for dependants such as children or elderly relatives
  • bereavement
  • moving house
  • debt problems

Remember that personal life causes of stress can also affect you as an owner-manager or self-employed person. See manage your own stress.

How to manage causes of personal stress

Unlike workplace stress, you don't have a legal responsibility to tackle personal causes of stress among employees. However, but you should remember that issues can have a major impact on their performance and affect your whole company. So it's a good idea to adopt a sympathetic and understanding approach.

Offering employees paid time off, or suggesting more flexible working arrangements, can be practical ways to help them deal with their problems. Your approach should be consistently applied. You can develop a written policy if appropriate. See time off for personal commitments and emergencies.

You may want to suggest that an employee seeks professional help from their doctor. You could also point them in the direction of support groups such as Relate or Alcohol Concern.

However, there's a risk you could be seen to be interfering, so it's important to use your judgement to decide whether this is appropriate.

Always respect employees' confidentiality if they tell you about personal problems they are facing.

Stress - whatever its origins - can lead to mental ill health, including anxiety and depression. See supporting employees with mental ill health.