“Stress can place immense demands on employees’ physical and mental health and well-being, impacting their behaviour, performance and relationships with colleagues“ says a recent report[1] by the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) .The report, based on the results of a survey of some 1, 078 professionals, presents as alarming picture of the current workplace:

  • Nearly 37% of UK businesses have seen an increase in stress-related absence over the last year.
  • The key reasons were heavy workloads (62% of respondents) and poor management style (43%).
  • 83%of respondents have observed ‘presenteeism’ (going to work when ill) in their organisation and almost 63% have observed ‘leaveism’ (using holiday leave to work). More than half say their organisation has failed to take steps to address the issue.

It seems as though we simply refuse to shut down. According to the Chartered Institute of Management our “always on” culture, means we work 44 extra days each year and the Daily Telegraph tells us we also give up 18 days a year by working through our lunch break.

And now we’re also working through our holidays?

To be honest the CIPD findings don’t surprise me at all. I recently had a client come to me complaining about her heavy workload. She was in a state of panic. All she kept thinking about was all the things she needed to do and the amount of time she needed to do them in. This just made her feel more and more anxious and panic stricken.  Our session helped her to see that the issue was her own mindset around her expectations of herself and her reluctance to set boundaries in her workplace. 

Managers pile on the work and the pressure with no thought for how this might impact the person. We’re afraid to push back in case it adversely impacts our career opportunities.  If we had the courage to tell them they might be shocked by what they hear and start to make changes. The CIPD study found that just 50% of managers have undergone training to support their staff to better manage stress. However, the great news is that this is slowly changing..

As those of you who have been following me for a while will know – I’m on a mission to change the way organisations push their employees and ignore signs of stress and burnout. I help people to set boundaries, change their mindset and take steps to de-stress and avoid burnout. But In time this can lead to organisations functioning in a way that doesn’t cause stress in the first place, where employees can switch off when they leave for home in the evening and enjoy their well earned vacation time.

Of course there are, and always will be, times when our workload is legitimately high. When we need to get something done in a short amount of time. When we have tight deadlines.  It is possible to manage how you respond to these situations.

Here are 4 super simple tips to help you manage a heavy workload with less stress

  1. See a positive outcome. Visualize the task and see it already successfully completed. You’ll be surprised how this reduces your feeling of anxiety.
  2. Be grateful for what you have completed and resist focusing on what you still have to do.
  3. Communicate – talk to your manager
  4. Breathe – slowly and deeply.

Will you join me is my mission to give people their lives back whilst enabling them to perform in a productive and effective way at work? Come on one of my courses; read my book Softer Success, talk to your HR department about my inhouse programmes.


[1] Health and Well-Being at Work Survey Report, November 2018.