Employee stress is a developing issue across the organizations in the modern world. The employees’ well-being gets affected as well as the efficiency of businesses. Stress at work becomes evident in circumstances where workers are given more assignments beyond their capabilities and lack the necessary support to help them through the work (World Health Organization, 2020). Job stress arises from several work-related factors such as heavy workload that must be completed over a short time, shift of duties, working for long hours, insufficient skilled personnel and production resources, conflicts, discrimination, and unfavorable working environment. Employee stress has a negative impact to the organization or business. It increases absenteeism and decreases the morale of workers. The skilled employees and staff may also leave the business as the customers receive poor quality services. Stress lowers the employee performance that greatly affects the organization’s productivity. This paper bases on a critical review of research and theory on several methods that managers can use to control work-related stress to prevent more damage that will limit the business performance and output.

Role Of Managers in Reducing Employee Stress

Line managers can play a crucial role in employee stress management since they deal directly with the employees. The managers delegate duties to employees, organize, and supervise them every day. Research specifies that line managers have an advantage to reduce employee stress by providing them with emotional needs. They can use their management skills to strategize ways to handle a stressed worker. For example, communicating with them effectively will build employees’ confidence to raise the issues that they are facing. Any business cannot operate and achieve its objectives in the absence of workers. Therefore, treating employees well and meeting all of their needs improves their performance, which reflects on the business outcomes.

Although the middle and top managers do not deal directly with most of the employees, their roles help to minimize the employees’ stress level. Research supports that the top managers can empower the line managers and provide them with the required tools to curb stress in their departments. Delegating authority to the operational managers within their working teams helps to reduce stress by encouraging the employees to plan and prioritize their work. Work-related stress is a big problem that cannot be handled with line managers alone. Thus, managers at all levels in an organization are required to step up and work together to reduce employee stress.

Training of the managers is an important aspect that initiates the stress management process. As employees have skills that enable them to specialize on particular jobs, the managers should have the knowledge on stress management in order to help others. For instance, a manager cannot know how to help an employee who is stressed about working without rest if he does not have right method to use. Development of technology has changed the businesses’ operations that lead to new employee stressors. Enrolling in the current stress management training programs will equip the managers with updated skills to prevent the stress from affecting the employees and at large. Training assists managers to identify possible employee stressors, prevent the increase of stressful conditions, and develop concrete solutions for effective management of stress.

How To Reduce Employee Stress

Open Communication

Research links poor communication to operational errors such as machine breakdown that leads to delay in production (Kaiser, 2018). Managers need to have good communication skills to create teamwork at every operational level. Creating a platform, for example, group meetings and one-on-one talk where workers speak about the challenges that they face helps a manager to recognize the stressors and work on them to reduce work-related stress. Additionally, listening skills aid to understanding the employee’ complaints without judging them. The relationship between a manager and an employee determines the reaction of the employees at work. When a manager communicates ineffectively to the employees, then they are prone to make mistakes. Stress emerges when the manager gets angry and punishes the employee responsible for the work.

Good communication builds strong working relationships that enables everyone to talk freely and work as a team to improve on performance. Kaiser (2018) notes that businesses with managers who understand effective communication and trained employees on communication have increased production. The employees are satisfied when they work in a stress-free environment and are able to work harder. A manager should explain the instructions to the workers in a manner that they will not feel pressured; this will help reduce employee stress. It is a manager’s initiative to understand each employee in terms of behavior and performance to communicate to them in unique ways. Face-to-face communication is vital because a manager can assess the physical condition and expressions of an employee to identify any stress element.

Employees are sometimes stressed because of their future career uncertainty in the organization they work in. They tend to lose the zeal to perform at their best since the leaders have not communicated to them. Open communication helps the managers and employees to locate the areas that need clarity and act the things that assure workers of certainty. Being transparent to employees by conducting conversations on career and their performance will make them understand their level of expectations. Employees should clearly understand the effects of their work on individual goals, team objectives, and organizational output. All these cannot be achieved without open communication and can increase work-related stress instead of reducing it.

 Leadership Style

Many organizations are still using the traditional style of leadership that focuses only on achieving the organizational objectives regardless of employee motivation. The traditional theories involve rewarding those employees that perform well and punish the ones with poor performance. Autocratic leadership helps to manage stress but only at a certain extent and becomes risky when employee stress is high. Although the employees follow everything that the manager says, their interests, views, and opinions are valueless.

Managers should not eliminate the traditional leadership style, but can adopt transformational style to encourage employee participation in issues of the organization. Abbasi (2018) reveals that transformational leaders have the passion to help every employee in a team to work well and succeed including their interests. Employees working under transformational leadership style experience less stress since the managers provide them with the needed support. Interactions between managers and employees establishes open communication channels that build friendship and responsible teams. The workers are inspired and motivated to perform better and fulfill both career and organizational goals. 

Researchers have revealed that transformational leadership affects the employee’s well-being in a positive way (Abbasi, 2018). For example, allowing the employees to speak their minds helps to minimize job strain, offering training sessions equips them with skills to handle their own stress, and the respect and trust among the team eliminates discrimination. A manager has to identify the employees’ factors that may influence the stress levels and the adverse effects that may arise. Labor relations organizations have recently made developments on the rights of employees based on their work, which has led to the growth of workers expectations. To avoid struggles between the priorities of the organization and employees, the organization gives rational and fair demands to the employees. Valuing the role of each employee builds confidence that is necessary to produce positive results.

Improving The Working Environment

The World Health Organization (WHO, 2020) states that a good environment is one that promotes the employee’s well-being. A working environment should have healthy conditions that support healthy behaviors. Most organizations schedule short time for break that leads to fatigue, monotony, and anxiety among the employees. Unhealthy working conditions results to stress and poor performance. It is important to promote work-life balance and practice it. For example, working according to the scheduled hours without extension gives the employees time to rest and also focus on their person lives. Work-life balance prevents the accumulation of stress and supports employees to have lifestyles that are healthy.

Researchers imply that employees are seeking for flexibility at their jobs. Since the organization had confidence in them during recruitment, they should not be closely monitored provided that they meet the set deadlines. For instance, allowing the workers with children at school to arrive early and leave at the specified time. The employees will concentrate on work without thinking about the children. The managers can also encourage remote working where the employees can work from home once in a while to change the environment as a mechanism to reduce employee stress. The freedom builds trust and confidence, hence increasing employee performance.

Stress is linked to the resources that employees use to produce goods or services. Workers may be unhappy due to inadequate or inefficient equipment because they make it difficult for them to work faster. Thus, low productivity that results from lack of motivation. The managers can be active in finding the reasons behind decreased employee performance and act on them immediately to avoid employee stress. Foe example, providing the employees with the right equipment and materials of work based on the workload given to them. They can also check on how the workers cope with the demand of work to ensure that they are satisfied with it.


 According to Ogbonnaya (2019), teamwork may be the cause of stress or a stress management tool based on leadership design and implementation procedures chosen by the managers. Teamwork can increase stress if managers do not monitor the contribution of each team member because some people depend on others and get fake credit for the work done. Increased workload delegated to teamwork creates job anxiety between the employees and compels them to work for long hours due to tension. Effective communication with individual employees helps to prevent conflicts among the team members and promote equal share of responsibility to increase the level of team productivity. Managers have a role to play in building effective teams that considers the needs of each member in the group. They should be aware of the structural methods that teams adopt and the effects that they bring to each employee for the workers’ well-being.

On the other hand, teamwork becomes an effective method of reducing work-related stress by encouraging team members to identify and develop themselves. The employees acquire knowledge from each other every time they meet and feel more confident. Ogbonnaya (2019) states that confident workers do not experience more stress compared to shy employees. A team that is committed to the organization works hard towards the same goal to improve organizational performance. The managers need to determine if teamwork is beneficial to the employees and recognize the employees’ skills to work on the assigned job. They should educate the employees and set real targets to reduce the level of stress in teamwork. Teams that have a variety of skills and make decisions that are independent of top management are successful in managing stress potential stress.

Employee Recognition

Researchers have directly associated employee stress with low reward and recognition of workers as a psychosocial hazard. Individual recognition has positive effects to the performance and commitment of the employee to an organization. Workers feel valued about themselves and are confident of their skills and abilities when recognized and rewarded. Managers encourage and appreciate the employees with positive comments because they see that the employees have done a good job or reached a particular milestone. Simple gestures of recognition such as thanking a team for completing work effectively before the deadline boosts their morale to levels that help to reduce stress. WHO advocates that employee appreciation improves their well-being in terms of mental health, which is important for workers to maintain focus in their work.

Organizations that acknowledge the role of employees rewards them in other ways apart from the bonus schemes and employee benefits. Creativity as one of the managers’ role can help to identify appropriate ways to reward the employees such organizing for team competitions where the prizes may include celebrations or leaving work early for the weekend. Employees are appreciated when their supervisors or managers: provide daily response on performance, handle workers’ drawbacks as an opportunity for improvement, praise those that have done well, listen to their concerns by acknowledging them, and commend their general effort.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

Literature argues that for leaders to successfully organize teams, cooperate with employees, manage employees stress, and deliver positive feedback, they need to have emotional intelligence skills. Managers who can control their emotional problems well are in a better position to help others by identifying and addressing them at an early stage. Emotional intelligence is a crucial management competence in modern organizations for managers. A manager with that ability can understand the sensitive behaviors and the emotional needs of workers and permit them to talk about the issues willingly by offering them with support. Relationships that are formed based on emotions tend to be strong and genuine compared to transactional relationships. It improves the managers’ ability to detect the triggers of stress that help in pre-empting the stress emergence in places of work. Therefore, managers can focus on developing emotional intelligence to handle employee stress properly.

Holland (2019) theory states that having skills such as empathy, mindset for growth, patience, flexibility, and confidence is important to build positive character, resilience, and improve mental health with performance. Emotional intelligence encourages communication and ensures the conflicts that arise are solved based on neutral standing leaving everyone satisfied. Employees can be trained on how to manage their emotions in the workplace for them to practice when they feel stressed. Studies explain that the skills of emotional intelligence reduce pressure a work and enables employees to appreciate their strengths and understand that no one is perfect. The challenges that people face can be seen as opportunities to improve on their performance rather than dwelling in emotions. EQ can be raised by recognizing one’s emotions and the stressors so that actions are not directed by the emotions. Managers with high emotional intelligence are able to prevent other types of employee stress with minimal effort.


Some research show that stress can be effectively managed using different techniques and styles to ensure improved employee performance and increase job satisfaction in organizations. Line managers should be trained on stress management to protect themselves before handling stress issues of employees. Adopting transformational leadership style and supporting employees’ interests will help reduce stress and promote work-life balance. Communication transparency, improving work conditions, recognizing individual employees, and encouraging teamwork are vital to reduce employee stress. Emotional intelligence remains the most essential managerial skill that helps to fight stress in the workplace by boosting relationships that impacts to the business performance. Click here to Place Your Order.


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Kaiser Fawad. (2018). Understanding stress in communication management: How it limits the effectiveness at personal and organizational level. DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.76527. Retrieved from

Ogbonnaya Chidiebere. (2019). When teamwork is good for employees-and when it isn’t. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from

World Health Organization. (2020). Occupational stress: Stress at the workplace. Retrieved from