Signs and Symptoms of Stress

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Potential Signs of Employee Stress Overload

Stress is the body’s response to any change in its inner or outer environment and it is as much a part of life as eating and breathing. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from stressful events and adapt well to change. As leaders, identifying individuals who are less resilient and providing resources to them may contribute to an individual’s ability to bounce back from the impact of stressful events. The following information may be useful in identifying those who are having difficulty adapting or managing stress.


  • Multiple instances of unapproved leave
  • Excessive use of sick time/days

High Accident Rate

  • Accidents on the job
  • Accidents off the job that impact attendance and productivity

Confusion and Difficulty with Concentration

  • Tasks take more time and require more effort (despite skill and experience)
  • Difficulty in recalling instructions and/or details
  • Difficulty in recalling own mistakes
  • Declining problem solving/creative ability
  • Difficulty in making decisions

Behavioral Instability

  • Wide mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Judgmental toward others (intolerant, demanding)
  • Over-reaction to real or imagined criticism
  • Noticeable change in physical appearance and/or demeanor
  • Complaints from others about attitude/demeanor
  • Uncooperative with supervisors and/or co-workers
  • Mistakes due to poor judgment

Productivity Decline

  • Sporadic work patterns; inconsistent productivity
  • Poor quality of work
  • Missed deadlines
  • Mistakes (despite skill/experience)
  • Lacks usual initiative, attention to detail
  • Tasks must be reworked due to substandard outcome
  • Complaints from others about productivity

Tips for Discussing Observations with an Employee

  • Be direct and timely
  • Conversation should be one-to-one, face to face
  • Express empathy and understanding
  • Identify observations and expectations
  • Don’t discuss employee’s personal issues
  • Don’t try to diagnose
  • Be supportive
  • Provide EAP resources and remind employee that EAP is available 24/7, confidential and free. Provide employee with a brochure or wallet card.
  • If employee behaviors or performance continue to negatively impact the workplace, contact PAS at 800-356-0845 to make a formal supervisor referral to assist.

Additional Tips for Leaders

  • Recognize your own responses to stress
  • Model resilience
  • Increase self care
  • Seek assistance from leadership
  • Contact EAP for additional assistance and support

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