How can you help and support your colleagues at work with stress?

Author avatarLiz Makin ·Mar 28, 2023

How can you help and support your colleagues at work with stress?

If you are feeling stressed at work, it is very difficult to ask for help and support from your manager or a colleague. However, you may notice that someone at work seems stressed and you want to help and support them. So how can you provide this help and support? Here are some ideas to try:

Notice how others at work are. It is very easy at work not to notice how others are behaving and what is going on for them. Pay attention to your colleagues and you may notice that someone is struggling to cope and may actually be stressed. There are many different symptoms and signs of stress (which you can explore further if you are not aware of them). These may be physical, behavioural, psychological or emotional. It may not be something specific, but the person just seems to be different to how they normally are.

Try and have a chat. Try and have a chat somewhere private with your colleague who appears stressed. Phrases to try include 'How are you?', 'You don't seem your normal self. Let's have a chat?' or 'You seem very stressed, what can I do to help and support you?' This can be very challenging to do but it may be what your colleague needs. If you don't want to speak to them yourself then just mention what you have noticed to someone who you feel can help them. 

Explain what you have noticed and express your concern. In the chat with them, explain what you have noticed, show your concern and tell them you are worried about them. This will show them that support is available and may help them realise that they are stressed. 

Encourage the conversation. Try to encourage the person to explain what they are experiencing and how they are feeling. They may seem jumbled and confused in their conversation, which is quite normal. You can repeat back what you think they are saying to help them get clearer. Just telling you how they feel can help a stressed person feel a little bit better.

Be patient and really listen. Allow the person to talk and show them you are listening. Be there for them and remind them that there are choices and options.

Understand the potential causes. During the chat, you may identify potential causes of stress. You can also ask questions to help them explore what the causes could be. Again, repeat back what you think you have heard, to help them understand what is really causing the stress.

Encourage action. To start to feel less stressed the person needs to take action on the causes of their stress. Try to encourage them to think through what may help them. To begin with one small action is enough. Don’t try and tell them what to do, just support them to think things through.

Refer them to someone who can help. As you are not an expert on stress, at any stage of the above, or even before, you can suggest that they speak to someone who you feel may be able to help them. This could be their manager, a specialist at work, a medical professional, a therapist or other support.


How to find out more?

If you want to explore supporting others with stress at work further, you can take our online course on Learn Formula and CPD Formula ‘Help & Support others at work to reduce & manage stress’. You may also be interested in our stress management courses on the platforms too.

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