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Tackling Workplace Stress and Anxiety

Blog 41 Tackling Stress Anxiety at Work

As has been copiously reported on in the press over the last year or so, the facts and figures regarding the dubbed “workplace mental health tsunami” are startling.

Health and Safety Managers, professionals and HSE Consultants have long been aware of workplace mental health issues and factored them into our risk assessments and safe operating practices. We understand employees must be protected from psychological threats, exactly the same as they would physical ones.  Sometimes though we need to reacquaint ourselves with the data surrounding workplace mental health, especially if we are looking for budget to help implement our programmes.

Let’s Look at the Costs

The data in the UAE is not so easy to collect and therefore the problem to quantify, but if we look to the  UK workforce as an example, the cost to employers derived from poor employee mental health is estimated at £45 billion (225 billion AED)  The World Economic Forum further reports that by 2030, the global costs of workplace mental health problems is estimated to total over $6 trillion (22 trillion AED)

This can be drilled down further:

  • £29 billion (150 billion AED) – Cost of presenteeism. Refers to employees who present to work, but their mental health symptoms impact their productivity. Examples include employees with depression who may have problems with time management, concentration, physical tasks, attention to detail and communication.
  • £7 billion (35 billion AED) – Cost of employee absences due to mental health issues. This figure is most likely far higher though due to employees reporting absence as being for other reasons and not admitting to mental health issues
  • £9 billion (45 billion AED) – Cost of staff turnover due to mental health issues

Then of course there are all the other factors associated with high company turnover which are impossible to calculate. They include damage to a company’s reputation making it harder to attract top talent. Resentment, burnout and lost productivity as current employees wonder if they should jump ship too – all exponentially worsening the problem.

There are further unknown but correlating costs to be factored in due to the fact that mental health disorders are further associated with certain types of chronic illnesses; such as diabetes and heart disease.  Leading to the potential for co-occurring disorders and aggressive costs to a company.

So how can Employers work to improve Employees Mental Health ?

Ignoring the issue and hoping it will not effect you or your company is not the answer ! In the past employees were keeping quiet on the subject of workplace stress and anxiety, no surprise when previously a shocking 9% of those who disclosed a mental health issue stated that they were demoted, dismissed or disciplined as a result.

So how can employers learn from the mistakes of the part and set themselves on a positive path for the future. One that will benefit both themselves and their employees ?

Some suggestions from the Corporate OHS Health and Safety Consultants are below:

  • Take a company wide mental health check survey, ask your employees:
    • How safe do they feel about sharing their mental health issues with management ?
    • Are there any changes to their workload or work environment that would help relieve feelings of workplace stress and anxiety in their day-to-day ?
    • Is there anything else they would like support with ?
  • Raise awareness about workplace mental health and associated issues
  • Leaders must be given solid understanding as regards workplace stress and anxiety to enable them to support their teams. Look at top down communication, Managers must lead by example to facilitate workplace positive change and look to build an open company culture
  • Put in place further support for Managers to enable them to drive positive change. Examples include training on how to spot mental health symptoms in others and enhancing personal skills such as listening and empathy
  • Encourage open communication between employees and the company. Give employees opportunities to participate in decisions and actions affecting their jobs and career development
  • Ensure that the workload given is in line with employees capabilities and resources
  • Clearly define employees roles and responsibilities and establish work schedules that are compatible with the role and staff level
  • Encourage employees to use their paid time off to relax away from the workplace
  • Encourage employees to take short breaks to stay energized and productive throughout the day
  • Encourage team bonding and provide opportunities for social interaction among employees
  • Look at flexible work schedules and hybrid working models such as part time working from home
  • Provide wellness strategies to effectively support employees struggling with workplace stress and anxiety
  • Ask for feedback and implement change based on it. Be sure to measure the results of your efforts to show your employees you care about their mental health. Taking the time to collect employee feedback through in-person meetings and anonymous surveys is vital for tackling workplace stress and anxiety. It also shows commitment to achieving positive change through the company


Corporate OHS is a UAE based Health and Safety Consultancy whose HSE Consultants offer expert resources and superior performance to give you greater results.

We specialize in creating cost effective, user friendly solutions aligned to your business activities, operations and budget.

Our range of health and safety consultancy services includes;

  • Flexible monthly support retainers giving access to HSE services without the burden of a permanent cost
  • Risk assessments
  • Hazard identification and control measure implementation
  • Gap Analysis and audits
  • HSE management system development, implementation and improvement including locally compliant systems such as Abu Dhabi OSHAD and/or accredited systems such as ISO 45001, ISO 14001, ISO 9001 and ISO 50001
  • HSE legal compliance reviews and assistance
  • Accident investigations
  • Business continuity and crisis management
  • Long term or project based HSE outsourcing

To find out more about our services, please visit our website or send an email to

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