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External causes of stress | Human Resources Information

External causes of stress

Sometimes people may suffer from stress that isn’t caused by work-related issues but instead has an external cause.


Common external causes of stress include:

  • relationship difficulties or a divorce
  • serious illness in the family
  • caring for dependents such as children or elderly relatives
  • bereavement
  • moving house
  • debt problems


Remember that such external causes of stress can also affect you as an owner-manager or self-employed person. See the page in this guide on dealing with your own stress.


Though you have no legal responsibility to tackle such causes of stress among employees, you should remember that they can have a significant impact on their performance. So it’s a good idea to adopt a sympathetic and understanding approach.


Offering employees paid time off, or suggesting more flexible working arrangements, can be practical ways to help employees deal with their problems.


You may want to suggest an employee seeks professional help from their doctor or point them in the direction of support groups such as Relate or Alcohol Concern.


However, there’s a risk you could be seen to be interfering, so it’s important to use your judgement to decide whether this is appropriate.


Always respect employees’ confidentiality if they tell you about personal problems they face.