Many people who were unable to attend last week's keynote address Show Stress Who's Boss that I delivered to Dubai Knowledge Village Training delegates, wrote to me to ask whether I could cover some of the highlights of that presentation in my column, so here is a synopsis.

Key points

  • Excessive pressure = stress
  • Anti-stress interventions work
  • Resilience is the key to beating stress!


Is stress is good for me?

No! Pressure is good for you but stress is not.


What is the difference between pressure and stress?

Pressure motivates and is within your control and you can usually manage it. Stress is the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressure.


What causes stress?

Fundamentally, it is the way that we think about a situation rather than the situation itself, that causes stress.


What is a stress ‘carrier'?

People who exhibit stress-producing behaviour but are unaware of the impact of their conduct upon others.


What are some of the physical reactions to stress?

Dry mouth, anxiety, rapid breathing, moist palms.


What are some of the symptoms of prolonged stress?

Sleep problems, headaches, anger, indigestion.


What are some of the causes of work place stress?

Long working hours, lack of autonomy, excessive expectations, uncertainty, work under-load / overload


What are some of the effects of work place stress?

Poor performance and productivity, low morale, reduced commitment and increased absenteeism.


What can the organisation do to manage stress?

Introduce Best Practice with primary, secondary and tertiary levels of intervention.


What is the primary level intervention?

The primary level deals with the assessment of risk and its prevention by introducing appropriate interventions, reviewing the needs of the organisation and implementing an anti-stress policy.


I am the CEO of a pharmaceutical company and want to assess the risk of stress in my organisation. How can I do this?

You will need to ensure that: a) Demands upon employees are realistic. b) Change is managed effectively. c) Procedures for dealing with grievances are introduced. d) Teams are allowed some control over their work. e) Role conflict and ambiguity are avoided. f) Published support is available within the organisation.


What is the secondary level intervention?

This includes training, education and implementation.


I am a training director of an IT company. What training initiatives have been proven to work?

There are two training initiatives that will help reduce stress in your organisation: a) Stress awareness and resilience training for all employees. Many organisations cannot eradicate stress but they can strengthen the resilience of their employees to manage it effectively. b) Stress Management training for all Managers. Managers need to recognise the signs and symptoms of stress in both themselves and in others and know how to deal with it quickly and efficiently so that team performance is not impaired.


What is the third level intervention?

Dealing with stress-related problems in the work place by timely interventions and by offering coaching, counselling, mediation and regular staff appraisals.


I am a manager and I assume that you would say that I have a fundamental role in managing stress in my team.

Exactly so. Your role is to manage people and you need to communicate, "walk the talk", be approachable and value individual and team effort by recognition.


What are the benefits of taking action to manage work stress?

The organisation will benefit from reduced absenteeism, improved staff morale and increased productivity.

The author is a BBC guest-broadcaster and motivational speaker. She is CEO of an international stress management consultancy. Her new book, ‘Show Stress Who's Boss!' is available in all good bookshops