The Effects of Stress on Productivity

How to Work With Workplace Stress Challenges

It has been universally acknowledged that stress plays a key role in productivity. But is it always a negative role? Research has shown that employees suffering from high stress levels have lower levels of engagement, are less productive and have higher absence rates.

But what if the right levels of stress and pressure can actually increase productivity?

Are there acceptable levels of stress?

This might seem like a little bit of a left field concept, but a stress-free environment can be just as counterproductive as a highly stressed one. Without certain levels of pressure and challenge, employees can become complacent and less motivated. In the same breath, unnecessary stress and pressure will also have an adverse affect on your ability to work effectively.

Manage your workload effectively

Managing your workload and setting yourself goals is the key to using stress and pressure to your advantage. Be realistic about what you can achieve and how you’re going to achieve it. And always communicate; it’s important to let those around you, fellow employees, clients and customers, know how you’re getting on. Keep them informed to any barriers that may change the outcome of your task and/or any delays.

Your work should be challenging but not overwhelming. If you are finding it too much, ask yourself why and what can be done to change it? Do you need more assistance, resources, time? Don’t be afraid to ask for the tools you need to do a great job.

Create a productive environment

More and more employers are coming round to the realisation that a well-curated workplace will improve employee experience and in-turn improve employee performance. As an employer, ask yourself, are your employee’s work spaces well lit, positioned and equipped for example? Is the environment hospitable and welcoming? As an employee ask yourself the same questions and be prepared to offer up suggestions in team meetings and appraisals.

Finding a balance and being honest

This may all too often feel like one of those ‘easier said than done’ situations. But the fact of the matter is, no one benefits from stressed, unhappy employees. In today’s ‘always on’ culture, it might feel like you’re joined at the hip to your emails and technology. Because of this though, it’s never more important to set clear boundaries between your ‘on and off’ time. Discipline is key.

  • Take adequate breaks – stop making excuses and take that lunch hour. Take time away from your screen. You only have yourself to blame.


  • Turn your phone off when it counts. Family time, rest time and special occasions.


  • Know yourself. If you feel like you’re flagging, take some time out. Stand outside for five minutes. Make a cup of tea. Go and do that photocopying you’ve been meaning to do. Distract yourself and get your head together. It’s absolutely your right to do this.


  • Talk to a friend or colleague. Don’t be afraid to let people know how you feel. Chances are they have experienced the same at some point.


It’s clear that the modern work environment is changing and it’s important more so than ever to make allowances for this and find better ways to work. This includes finding better ways to not work too. From the newest employee to the director of the company it’s everyone’s responsibility to contribute to a more harmonious and productive work environment.