How Can a Leader Reduce the Stress of Their Employees?

How can leaders build mental resilience?

How Can a Leader Reduce the Stress of Their Employees?

We are living in a time of polycrisis, the effects of which directly translate into the level of stress that accompanies us. Against this backdrop, an increasing number of companies are recognising the importance of supporting employees in building mental resilience. How can leaders get involved in this process?

Stress in a time of polycrisis

We are living in a time of so-called polycrisis, that is, overlapping crises of a social, economic, geopolitical or climate nature. In our personal and professional lives, we are increasingly accompanied by haste and the need to keep up with fast-changing situations. What are the implications of this? According to the report “Wellbeing of Poles”, prepared by Benefit Systems in cooperation with Natalia Hatalska’s, as many as 21% of Poles feel permanent stress.

It affects each of the six aspects of our wellbeing: physical health, mental health, inner peace, life comfort, relationships with others, and contact with nature. These areas are closely interconnected and influence one another. As a result, stress, which worsens our health and disrupts our inner peace, can take a toll on the quality of work, among other things, where we spend a third of our adult lives. In turn, the stress experienced in our professional lives will negatively affect our private lives.

This state of affairs makes it necessary to take better care of mental health. Regulating stress, as well as maintaining a work-life balance, will not only help take care of this area, but will raise the total level of individual wellbeing.

Implications for the organisation

Stress causes damage to mental and physical health, which can be reflected relatively quickly in a decline in productivity at work, deterioration in the quality of work, a crisis in creativity and unwillingness to take on new tasks. Stress also leads to lower self-esteem [1].

Persistent stress in the workplace can ultimately lead to an increased risk of job burnout, higher absenteeism and increased turnover rates, as well as deterioration in the performance of the company as a whole. Fortunately, organisations are not helpless in such a situation. What is more, leaders already have a whole range of tools that are helpful in reducing stress among employees.

What can a leader do?

It often seems that the solution to all employees’ ills is raises or bonuses. Of course, in some cases this is legitimate, but sometimes it is not enough. The report “Well-being of Poles” shows that among the factors that disrupt wellbeing, everyday stress (40%) is ahead of low income (37%). This means that if employers want to take more comprehensive care of employees’ wellbeing, they should pay attention to more than just financial issues.

The leader, seeking to improve the team’s wellbeing, should pay attention to the atmosphere in the workplace to make the performance of duties as stress-free as possible. First, they should determine how serious the stress is, and in which areas it is most acute. A useful solution is the Wellbeing Score, a tool for measuring wellbeing. It allows to identify the real needs of employees, and then match actions that will lead to improvements in selected areas.

Practical ways to combat stress in the workplace

Equipped with knowledge about the needs of teams, leaders can make efforts to reduce stress. A number of solutions are at their disposal to reduce its level in the workplace.

Open communication

The leader should create such an atmosphere that employees can share their opinions, knowledge and proposals for action without fear. Experts advise using the instant messaging facilities available in the company (e.g. creating separate chat rooms) or holding regular meetings [2]. Importantly, open communication doesn’t have to concern only the tasks performed. Such limitations will make it impossible for the company to use a variety of creative ideas, as no one will simply put them forward.

Clear rules

Experts also emphasise that important to reducing stress are clear rules that the supervisor communicates to everyone on the team. A good example is clear criteria for evaluating performance in specific positions. Communicating such information should not be limited to conversations with employees. You can also effectively use an intranet, where you can post useful content in the form of an article or infographic. In this way, anyone interested will have constant and full access to it.


A useful solution is regular employee surveys (available on the MyBenefit platform, among others), through which the employer can learn the team’s opinion of the company’s activities. Such a solution reinforces a sense of empowerment in employees, which in turn translates into lower stress levels. Sometimes even a short survey with questions about the location of a team-building meeting is enough. Employees can also be valuable beta-testers of the company’s products and services, expressing opinions on their quality or submitting rationalisation proposals.

Recognising employees

Stress results in, among other things, lower self-esteem, but a leader can counteract this by appreciating an employee for specific actions. It is not necessary to wait for spectacular successes, sometimes it is worth praising a subordinate if only for preparing materials on time, when there has been a flurry of duties in the company. Praise can be expressed via e-mail, at team meetings, or through intranet and platforms such as MyBenefit with the option to provide so-called kudos, visible to the entire organisation.

Tailored benefits

The right benefits will not only reduce the level of stress, but also remove some of its causes. Examples? The iconic MultiSport card supports regular physical activity for employees, and the MultiLife platform provides contact with specialists, such as a psychologist, and access to numerous courses. What does this mean for employees? Exercise translates into reduced stress and improved physical health (which also prevents the onset of disease-related stressors). As many as 95% of employees say that physical activity helps relieve work-related stress [4]. In turn, self-development helps avoid some of the stressful situations – for example, if employees learn to resolve conflicts, it will improve the atmosphere in the company.

A friendly office

Higher comfort means lower stress levels. It is worth keeping this relationship in mind when planning office space. What should you bear in mind? For example, the fact that contact with nature – even such as office greenery – has an anti-stress effect. If possible, it is also a good idea to quiet your work space, for example by placing desks away from noisy traffic routes. Being in a noisy environment (even at low intensity) for many hours increases feelings of stress. It is also a good idea to provide employees with a place where they can eat quietly, and encourage them to take active breaks during which they can do short stretching exercises, for example.

The right work mode

The report “Well-being of Poles” shows that among hybrid workers, as many as 52% report having a high (40%) or very high (12%) level of wellbeing. The figure is 44% for working from home and 39% for working from the office. In contrast, where hybrid mode is not an option, the leader should increase the flexibility of working hours. This will also translate into reduced stress and increased wellbeing.

How? Some companies set possible starting times “from eight to ten o’clock” – in this way employees co-determine their schedule. They can decide for themselves whether to start work earlier in the morning and, after work, for example, pick up their children from the kindergarten sooner, or run private errands in the morning and leave the office a little later. Such an arrangement requires some discipline in organising meetings or teamwork, but in many cases it works perfectly.

Promoting rest

It is worth encouraging employees to take regular holiday leave (whereby the leader should not forget about themselves either, and should even set a good example). Also important for stress reduction is proper management of workload and attention to work-life balance [5]. It is worth remembering that one of the most stressful factors is time pressure, and an excess of tasks combined with unrealistic deadlines increases the risk of talent loss [6].

The fight against stress as a strategic challenge

All of the solutions mentioned have one thing in common – they cannot be used on a one-off and ad hoc basis. Combating stress and building wellbeing require a process-based approach, a proper strategy and regular monitoring. Of course, in this case, leaders have useful tools at hand, such as the Wellbeing Score, which allows them to base actions on hard data from the organisation.

Fighting stress within the team is a huge strategic challenge. But these days, taking it up is becoming a necessity if an employer wants to expect efficiency in operations and retention of talent in the company.

Expert commentary

Joanna Gutral, PhD: Organisational Factors Help Reduce Employee Stress

To reduce employee stress, organisational factors in the company are crucial, such as clearly defined communication paths, a clear structure of the organisation, transparent rules for promotions, and good atmosphere, so that there is trust within the team, and an employee who, for example, has problems in their personal life, knows that they can turn to their superior for support.

Organisational factors create a sense of security for the employee, which lowers the level of uncertainty and stress. This is an aspect based on the basic psychological needs of humans, namely the need for competence, relationships and autonomy. When these needs are met within the organisational structure, team members feel noticed, appreciated and taken care of.

An employee who feels empowered will perform better even in a stressful situation.Keep in mind that every employee should be treated by the supervisor as a living organism, which has its own private life, its own health situation and functions under certain social circumstances.





[4] „Zmęczeni, obojętni, niezaangażowani. Postpandemiczne potrzeby pracowników”, Raport Benefit Systems z badania Kantar i Minds&Roses, 2022.