“If an employee seems down or on edge, you notice that deadlines aren’t being met, or there are a few more sick days than normal, this could be a sign of a stress-related mental health problem. Sometimes, even if you recognise that’s there’s a problem, it can be difficult to start a conversation with them and approach it head-on.

“But if it doesn’t get resolved, stress can become more serious and even harder to resolve. To make the process easier, we remember ALTRUIST as an acronym for the things to remember when you’re talking to an employee about stress – either directly or indirectly.

A | Ask them. Sometimes the most effective way of encouraging a member of your team to open up and talk is to ask them a simple question, like ‘how are you doing?’. If the employee feels like it’s just an informal chat in a relaxed environment, they can be more willing to share their thoughts with you. Discreet is better, rather than surrounded by co-workers.

L | Listen to them. It can be hard to open up if we are feeling stressed or anxious. Make it as easy as possible for them to talk and most importantly, listen and wait a few seconds before saying anything.

T | Trust them. It might take time for them to open up about the trouble they’re having. If you can build a more trusting relationship with your employee, you’re already making it easier for them to express how they are feeling. After all, feelings are personal and we share them more often with people we can trust.

R | Roots. Reasons for them experiencing stress in the workplace can be crystal clear, or there might be something more deeply affecting them. If you can work together to find the root of the problem, then you can work together to solve it.

U | Understand them. Try to address the issue with an open mind and an open heart. Avoid making assumptions, like ‘I know how you feel’, because nobody really knows how anybody else feels!

I | Involve yourself. Make use of all the information there is and find a solution. Educate yourself about identifying stress-related problems, and support people even better in the workplace.

S | Show who you are. By checking your own body language, you can subconsciously appear more welcoming and willing to listen. For example, leaning forward signifies interest, and outing the hands on the desk can signify an engaged mind.

T | Try to help. Pretending there isn’t a problem will harm the health of your employee – who you have responsibility for – and productivity. It might be that the problem lies in their personal life, but that shouldn’t discourage you from trying to be there for help. Try to find a solution with them before the issues gets more serious.


For further information on how to deal with stress in the workplace, you may wish to visit Altruist Enterprise’s website www.altruistuk.com.