2024 - Employer, Heal Thyself: Managing Employer Stress

As an Employer, you know that you are responsible for the health, safety and well-being of your Employees. However, when you are busy running day-to-day operations and ensuring your Employees have all they need to be effective, it can be easy to forget about, and even neglect your own well-being.

Excessive pressures and demands in the workplace can potentially lead to stress for some, with tell-tale signs ranging from fatigue and low moods, to burnout, anxiety and depression.

Running a business and employing individuals can bring great benefits, but also a variety of challenges, so it is important for Employers to proactively equip themselves to be in the best possible position for handling both sides of the coin.

This month, we look at how Employers and Managers can prioritise their own well-being, alongside that of their Employees, to cope effectively with the inevitable pressures of running a business.

Intentional Rest

The Working Time Regulations govern work hours in the UK, and stipulate rules for breaks and rest times, but it’s important to look beyond the legal requirements and focus on the importance of rest for sustaining a business and the people within it.

Running a business comes with inevitable pressures that need to be effectively managed. Many agree that a certain degree of pressure at work is good, because it can foster a good work ethic, motivate individuals, and maintain a sharp focus on the end goal. However, prolonged levels of pressure without consistent breaks or rest can trigger a stress response. Even a person who loves what they do can shift into the realm of stress when the pressure is too much, and for too long.

When an Employer or Manager is overseeing a team of Employees, handling deadlines, customer requirements and logistical factors, it can be very easy to forget to take a break, or even choose not to take a break, especially if they are the go-to person for all decision-making and problem-solving. However, nothing and no one can sustain a consistently high level of performance without downtime, not even machines. It is vital to build in recovery time in order to remain effective and avoid the risk of burning out or suffering from stress.

One of the best ways to ensure and maintain a routine of intentional breaks and recovery time, and for others to be respectful of that routine, is to build it into the organisational culture. Demonstrate to Employees that rest is vital for optimal performance, and that taking their breaks and rest periods is expected and encouraged. When this perspective is universally understood, Employers and Employees will likely find that they are far more respectful of each other’s pressures and subsequent needs. A great byproduct of this for Employers is that it makes it far harder for you to break your own rules!

Flatten The Structure

As an Employer, it is important to lead by example. If Employees are struggling to problem-solve in their roles and are subsequently overwhelmed by stress, this can have a negative impact on the Employer’s own wellbeing, as well as the business’s effectiveness. An Employer should take a proactive stance by investing in their own resilience and stress management, while also ensuring Employees have the tools they need to work optimally.

Again, it’s helpful to work this into the organisational culture. The traditional top-down organisational structure encourages Employees to stay in their assigned box, reporting upwards or requesting assistance from higher up, whenever a task is ‘considered’ to be above their station. Formulating a more horizontal organisational structure, and providing additional training for Employees, can allow said Employees, Employers and Managers to work in tandem, stepping in, stepping up and stepping aside for and on behalf of each other, to suit the immediate needs of the business. This also provides Employees with the confidence needed to navigate challenges independently, before escalating them to Managers/Employers. An Employer/Manager is of course responsible for supporting their teams through demanding situations, but in creating a more horizontal organisational structure, they can ease the levels of pressure and the stress of trying to manage everything themselves, reserving their time and expertise for dealing with any bigger problems that may crop up.

Delegate To Internal Experts

Taking on full responsibility for decision making can be a very stressful and overwhelming task for Employers and Managers, particularly if they are the go-to person. Rather than try to manage it all, they should look for gaps in their skills and see if they can identify an individual within the business who possesses those missing skills. They may just be the ideal person to delegate some tasks to, and therefore help relieve any excessive stress.

Many of us can come up with excellent ideas of where we want to go, but we may not necessarily be skilled in formulating precise plans for how to get there. If an Employer or Manager is brilliant at formulating grand visions for the direction of a business, and staff numbers allow for it, it may be worthwhile for them to delegate the planning and execution to someone else in the business who is more skilled in the tactical side of running a business.

It’s always great to capitalise on our strengths, but we don’t always have to indulge in our weaknesses.

Invite In External Help

When a Manager is recruited to their role, they may be considerably qualified in terms of skill, knowledge and technical expertise, but they may not necessarily be as well-equipped when it comes to the psychological issues relating to that role, such as coping with the stress of excessive demands and pressures.

If stress management is an issue, it may be beneficial to invite in external support from a qualified individual.

Business advisors, management consultants, coaches, and mentors, for example, have the advantage of being ‘on the outside’ of a business and therefore better able to identify issues that need addressing. An Employer or Manager may be too swept up in day-to-day operations, or too close to the business to be able to step back and see clearly for themselves.

When an Employer or Manager is caught up in the middle of a highly demanding situation or is feeling significant stress over a specific matter, they may struggle to see the best way forward. Having an external advisor can really help identify immediate steps and assist in creating a plan for the future.

Leading can also be a lonely job. An Employer or Manager may feel the pressure to support their Employees and be at the top of their game when it comes to problem-solving and decision-making, so some can find it isolating when they don’t feel like they can speak to anyone in-house about the stresses and demands of their role. Having an external sounding board and a safe space for discussing and processing issues can be extremely beneficial, and lead to excellent results.


It’s often said that a business is only as successful as the people within it. Therefore, to be able to navigate the various demands and challenges that a business can experience, Employers, Leaders and Managers must prioritise their own well-being, alongside that of their Employees. Stress can bring down an individual quickly, and it can have significant ramifications for the entire business, particularly if that individual is in a senior decision-making position. From taking intentional rest to delegating appropriately, Employers and Managers may find it much easier to cope with stress in any type of demanding work situation.

Do you need support or advice in managing stress within your workplace? We are here to help. Please do not hesitate to give us a call.