Stress Awareness Month

Spotting the signs of workplace stress this Stress Awareness Month

Did you know that April (2023) is Stress Awareness Month in the UK?

This national event organised by the Stress Management Society has been running for over 30 years and is designed to raise awareness of the causes of stress, as well as remove the stigma surrounding it both at home and at work.

The theme for this year’s campaign is ‘act now’– encouraging people to take action and create meaningful change when it comes to dealing with stress.

In the workplace, this could be as simple as frequently checking in with colleagues and/or employees who are working remotely, to make sure that they are not feeling stressed by the disconnect from office life.

As a leading drug and alcohol testing laboratory working with businesses of all sizes across a vast array of sectors, we know all too well the impact that stress can have on people from all walks of life.

We also know that the effects of stress on a person’s mental wellbeing can be a trigger for substance misuse, with some individuals turning to alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism before, during or after a stressful workday.

This Stress Awareness Month, we’re giving you tips on how to spot the signs of workplace stress, so that you can help support employees and colleagues who may be struggling, while also tackling substance misuse in the workplace.

Stress in the workplace

According to figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) around 13.7 million working days are lost each year in the UK due to work-related stress, anxiety and depression, at a cost of around £28.3 billion per year.

A study published by the CIPD in partnership with Simply Health also found that workplace stress was one of the main causes of absences from work.

Furthermore, nearly four out of five businesses reported stress-related absence in their organisation over a 12-month period, with this figure being even higher in larger organisations with more than 250 employees.

This means it’s vital that businesses do all they can to ensure workplaces and working patterns are as stress-free as possible.

While the rise of remote or hybrid working has meant greater flexibility and work/life balance for some, for others, being absent from an office environment has left them feeling isolated and disconnected from colleagues.

In these circumstances, colleagues experiencing workplace stress can feel left to their own devices, with little support available.

Stress in the workplace can affect every aspect of an organisation, from absenteeism rates to interpersonal relationships, meaning it is vital that employers are able to recognise the signs of stress as early as possible before serious stress-related illness – including dependence on drugs and alcohol – occurs.

There are some clear signs of workplace stress you can look out for in your colleagues, whether your staff are working from home or on-site, including:

  • Extroverts becoming withdrawn
  • Becoming more accident prone
  • Becoming short-tempered / increased conflict with colleagues or line managers
  • A dramatic change in weight
  • Increased sickness absence
  • Low productivity and efficiency

By spotting these signs early, and putting plans in place to support employees, businesses can reduce the risks associated with a stressed-out workforce such as increased sickness absence, reduced productivity and drug or alcohol dependency. 

In addition, businesses that implement effective health and wellbeing programmes, incorporating drug and alcohol awareness training and routine drug and alcohol testing, will find that they benefit from a more open, supportive culture, leading to a better working environment for all.

Workplace drug and alcohol testing you can trust

Whatever the cause, stress has an intense effect on people’s mental and physical health.

One serious consequence is that some people may turn to using drugs and/or alcohol as a coping mechanism.

This is especially concerning in safety critical industries, where using drugs and alcohol at work could lead to a loss of concentration and slowed reaction times, contributing to an increased risk of incidents or accidents.

That’s why it’s essential for businesses to implement drug and alcohol policies that clearly set out the company’s stance on drug and alcohol use and, in turn, protect the business, employees and customers.  

As a leading drug and alcohol testing laboratory, we work with businesses across a range of sectors, providing a range of drug and alcohol testing services and solutions, including random, for cause (post-incident/accident), pre-employment and return-to-work testing, policy creation and review, and drug and alcohol awareness training.

For more information on our Workplace testing services, or to request a quote, call our friendly Workplace team today on 0333 600 1300 or email   

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