Workplace Stress

Causes of workplace stress 
The predominant cause of work related stress from a UK Labour Force Survey was workload (tight deadlines, too much work/pressure/responsibility).
Other factors identified included a lack of managerial support, organisational changes at work, violence and
role uncertainty (lack of clarity about job/uncertain what meant to do.)

The UK HSE Report that the main causes of workplace related stress are:-

  1. Workload
  2. Role Uncertainty
  3. Lack of control
  4. Lack of support
  5. Changes at work
  6. Violence and other factors.

The trend seems to be mainly workplace pressures along with interpersonal relationships and changes at work.


Stress accounts for 35% of work related ill health and 43% of days lost (UK Hse)  these are significant figures…..

Workload is the main cited reason, with long hours and overtime as well as lack of management support and organisational changes. The costs to the Building and construction companies in terms of lost man hours, program time and budget are affected but can be reduced and even stopped by proper management of all grades of workers from site management to general labour.

Using the HSE list some preventive steps can be taken.


Determine the labour requirements prior to any works commencing, ensure sufficient workers are engaged to carry out the work and ensure that the works program is achievable, set up some contingency plans where if some area of the work is delayed other areas can be worked.

Role Uncertainty

For management, supervisors and all staff a clear job description and role must be established and understood, choose the right person for each role in accordance with training and experience.

On site a daily briefing should be carried out with work required discussed, who will do the work and are there sufficient tools and materials available.

Lack of Control

This could be interference, managerial accountability and performance, for example demanding that poor and tight work programs are adhered to regardless of the  effect on staff.

Lack of Support 

All levels of staff on site should have support from supervisors and management, Those in charge should have full knowledge of the works and be on hand to mentor those that need it, there should be  open dialog with workers and management.

Changes at Work

Management should be aware of the impact of any changes in the work or work types on staff, this could be transferring workers to unfamiliar roles on other sites without discussion, new management on existing sites can cause stress with sudden changes, this would mainly be management styles, for example a new manager shouting and making demands that the workers are not used to etc.


Although most companies will have a anti violence policy with instant dismissal or prosecution of those committing violence in the workplace this does continue especially where foreign workers are used, substance abuse and where bullying tactics are used by supervisors or by workers against supervisors.

A clear zero tolerance policy should be compiled and made part of the site induction as well as a part of every worker’s contract.